It hasn't rained much in Northern California this winter and that's a problem. By the middle of January, we'd had no rain this month and trace amounts in December. It had been cold, freezing temperatures every night for a couple of weeks.
People who live in the Midwest and East think we're whiners, but this no rain thing is a serious threat. Every kid I come in contact with has a runny nose. I sound like a broken record: "Blow your nose! Quit wiping it with your sleeve!"
I buy boxes of tissue every year. When the district's budget crunch first hit, we decided that buying pencils was a better idea than tissue. My classroom is filthy. Since custodians were laid off first, about three to four years ago, no one cleans counter tops or desk tops anymore, and the floor gets vacuumed once a week.
I walked in on a colleague the other day vacuuming her room during her prep. She had a substitute teacher the day before and the floor was covered in little pieces of paper. One hundred and sixty students roll through her room every day, and she was disgusted by the mess.
Another colleague who teaches science cleans with anti-bacterial soap every week. She is determined not to get sick.
I hate living in California right now; I used to love it. I loved talking about how everything was so progressive, so innovative. No more. The Governor has a few good ideas and if the legislature can agree, maybe we can turn things around. But man, living in this nightmare of no funding really is horrible.
I hate teaching in the Elk Grove Unified School District right now. Yeah, I said it. I used to be so proud of our schools, the way I was treated as a teacher. Now, it just stinks. I sat at the school board meeting last week and listened while two approaches to budgeting were presented. Fagan, the money guy for EGUSD, contrasted with Schidmor and Chatten, money guys for the Elk Grove Education Association, which represents teachers.
It boils down to the district adding money to their reserves while the employees make sacrifices and programs are cut. EGUSD has a $63 million reserve fund and your kids have fewer school days. I have less time to teach what I need to, I buy my own kleenexes, my classroom is dirty, and EGUSD has a reserve fund about six times larger than it needs to be.
See the problem?? No rain, no money.
Then education expert Diane Ravitch came to town! Ironically, the day she spoke to Sacramento-area teachers, it poured. It rained in buckets. I was uplifted! She gave us hope by providing us with ammunition for those who would seek to destroy the great American tradition of public education.
Maybe things will get better? I can only hope.