The start of summer is always a time that I welcome with anticipation. Many of you know that I’m a teacher. The last few weeks of school are crazy hectic: end-of-year events, report cards and other paperwork, and cleaning up my room from a successful school year. By the time it’s all done I’m so ready to jump right in to long days spent at the beach or pool. Those lazy mornings at home with my kids aren’t too bad either! But this summer has a different feel to it. Yes, I am on vacation for 6 glorious weeks. But this summer there is a looming cloud of unknown that hangs over all the fun things we have planned.
Here’s the whole story.
Due to recent changes in California law, my charter school had to petition for the local district to sponsor us. In order for us to continue serving kids and families, our director wrote a whole new charter. I am told that it is so detailed, it filled 16 1-inch binders! Well, everything was moving forward just fine when she took our petition to the big district board meeting. Then, out of the blue, a group of school officials and their slew of attorneys came forward with some intense opposition. They accused our school of acting in a shady manner and disobeying educational laws. Of course, these were all lies. But it made us look really bad. The big district decided they needed some time to consider the opposition, and pushed the vote back. We’ve been waiting on pins and needles ever since. Then, just days before the rescheduled meeting, they pushed it back another week.
If they don’t sponsor us as a charter, our academies will close. I’ll be out of a job. Ask your teacher friends how easy it is to find a job during the summer (hint: it’s not easy). Schools do their hiring in the spring so they can plan for August staff developments. This is not to say that teachers don’t get hired right before school starts, because they do. But those positions are few and far between.
I wish the big mean school officials would consider the children.If we close, the student population that our charter has served for over 17 years won’t have a school to come to next fall. Our kiddos come to us because, for whatever reason, they struggled in traditional public schools. Our academy is small and the students are always saying that it feels like home to them. And here, they are thriving.
I hate to think what will happen to these sweet, sheltered kids in a big public school. Many of them will fall through the cracks and become faceless names on a page of data and test results. I know how data-driven and impersonal schools are because I worked in traditional public schools for 8 years before finding my love of teaching in this charter school.
We wrote letters, emailed board members, rallied families to share their voice. And now we wait.
It was emotionally draining to close up my room. I carefully packed and tidied centers, filed my favorite units in their respective places, and made lists of things I need to order for next year. The whole while, in the back of my mind was that whisper of doubt, “If we’re even here next year.”
This is who I am. I’m a teacher. I’ve found my home with this school and I have no intention of looking for another job until the end is final.
A summer of waiting.
I’m trying to fill my time with cleaning and organizing our little home, and trying not to think about how we will afford rent if I’m out of a job. We’re planning family day outings, focusing on things that are free in case even a tank of gas is outside our budget. I know it sounds depressing and dramatic, but this is our reality for now.
I wonder what the kids and families of our school are doing? Are they also holding their breath, not knowing where they’ll be in the fall? That’s go to be such a disappointment for them.
So… deep breaths. Focusing on blessings even during this time of unknown. Finding words of encouragement for my fellow teachers, even when I want to break down and cry. And above all, faith and trust that God has a plan for me, the students, and for this school.
If you feel led, you may find the contact info for board members here. This is public information, and anyone may email them and share their thoughts on the importance of charter schools, either in favor of or against.
Please pray for us and for our student population. We don’t live in a world where things are “fair”, but it would be nice if the big guy didn’t always win.