Monday, February 14, 2011

"Taking It On the Chin"

I try not to get too vested in any institution in the South because of its innate “good ol’boy” atmosphere; however, an article regarding cutting needed programs in schools for struggling students in South Carolina struck a chord. I am for effective, equitable, and fair education for every child, and equitable work environments for their teachers.

A couple of years ago, Jim Rex, former SC Superintendent of Education, stated he was asking the State’s teachers to “take it on the chin” because they would not get any raises due to the State’s budget, and they did as they have been doing for years. In some past news article, a couple of principals in South Carolina are quoted as stating “teachers need to be more enthusiastic”, “they will just have to do more with less, and that “teachers will have to pick up the slack”. Newsflash!!! Teachers have been doing the above for years to help students, and that’s pretty hard to do when, even to be a mediocre teacher, it requires that you have to spend at least $500 of your own money to properly equip your classroom for instruction. If you’re not in a district like Fort Mill (#1 District in SC), don’t count on parents being able to supply you with copy paper, etc., or volunteer hours. Teachers spend $500 of a salary that has been cut due to mandatory furlough days, no step raises (consistent), and, for many, competing student loan payments for their education. Teachers have been managing the impending financial crisis of their families due to the above cuts, and have been managing to teach our children with less money, less district support, and more demands and criticism from all angles.

“Teachers have to be more enthusiastic? Really? The principals quoted have long forgotten the drawbacks of the trade. Teachers get no maternity/paternity leave like the rest of the “modern world” to start their families. If they don’t have enough sick days banked, they don’t get paid. There is no tuition reimbursement for their education. They have no Union interrupting their salary cuts and step raising. Enthusiastic about what, even more work for less pay?

Not once did either principal quoted state, as recorded by the paper, that “we” need to be more enthusiastic, and that “we” all need to do more with less. It was all about what teachers needed to do. How is an overworked underpaid teacher going to be effective at helping any students when he or she is burnt out and shown no appreciation for the miracles (something from nothing) they perform year after year? Who will stand for the noblest among us, the teacher? If school districts were not so “top heavy”, there would be more money available for needed programs like the ones being cut. There are four Superintendents of Education in many SC counties, and not a plan exists between them to address the needs of “every” student. Maybe they should listen to the principals quoted in the article? They seem to have the answer, pile it all on the teachers! What convenient scapegoats for leadership that lacks vision and too inept to devise a plan. The train is leaving the station in South Carolina, and look, they just left 100 children behind, and without the weight, making good time!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Unleavened Bread"

Lately, I've been stressed out about so many things. From my professional path to the future of my children, many aspects of my life have vexed my spirit because I have no control over them. My difficulty, however, truly comes from balancing my faith and my own abilities to affect change in my life regarding those areas. I wonder if I'm in the right business; am I doing the right thing, and doing right by all those I come in contact with?

Deep seeded and interwoven into my soul, there's a constant tug towards greatness in something. For the past three months, I've had this peace in the mist of my rocky climb. I've been given an oasis of clear thought and expression in the desert of my journey to realize my greatness. I have a need to help people, and educate people to help them change their positions in life. It is what I truly believe I am meant to do; however, how do I align my passion, a perceived calling, financial obligations, family, and ministry?

Now, I know what you must be thinking. And yes, the above is a handful to reconcile. However, I truly believe my greatness in paired with this reconciliation. How I'm going to accomplish it, I don't know. I do know that as I continue to strive for answers and mediate my internal strife, I will continue to draw closer to the power source of life and the expectancy that it holds. I will continue to raise the bar on what's acceptable in my life. The more I am able to remove those things that make my life rise with pseudo conflicts, obstacles, and pitfalls, I will be able to see all things with a very flat and static sight which lends itself to dynamic interpretation. Like unleavened bread, life should be free of any agents giving rise to air pockets, or false priorities that may distort, or give a false sense of sustenance because of the appearance of fullness.

Life is a beautiful stroll on a rainy day filled with puddles that seek to intimidate our walk, and heavy showers that seek to cloud of vision. But the human spirit aligned with a higher power infused with the love of God is resilient. It provides shelter for our thoughts, and gives us spiritual depth perception so that we are able to step in puddles that are deep in appearance only. It allows us to continue walking without breaking our stride because of a down pour fore we know that storms break and give way to sunshine "after while".