The Prichard Blog features two teachers talking about the importance of a legislative commitment to education funding.
First up is Kim Delaney, a first grade teacher in Boone County.
Here is the central portion of her argument:
First grade has changed a lot since you and I were in a classroom. The days of Dick and Jane basal readers have passed. I have the responsibility to teach 24 students, and sometimes more, to read. First grade students are required to read 67 words per minute in fiction as well as non-fiction texts by the end of first grade. We expect our children to be equipped and prepared to be college- and career-ready to compete in a global society. Despite the responsibility I have for those 24 students, I am given 11 reading textbooks to use with them. This is a tragedy. Children learn to read by holding a book in their hands, tracking print, looking at pictures and more. My children must have the tools they need to read in order to learn to think critically and to become accomplished readers and writers.
Standards require my students to be able to research and utilize technology, yet I have three desktop computers for 24 students to share.
We can accept no further cuts to education for our children and grandchildren.
Next, Michelle Rynbrandt-Hendricks, currently a 4th grade teacher in Bullitt County, offers her thoughts. She talks about what it’s like being a high school special education teacher, a job she previously held.
Here’s what she has to say:
The reality is that teachers will do what it takes to make things happen for kids. Teachers will buy Kyle a new pair of shoes when his are so full of holes and won’t stay on his feet, they will pitch in to pay a plumber to fix the toilet for the family who can’t flush theirs, they will beg for someone to give Andy a haircut; get the heat turned on where Morgan lives and make sure Jamie and her 3-year-old little brother have presents from Santa.
Teachers always have been and always will be givers. They are fiercely protective of their charges. Just because teachers and other school employees will move mountains in order to get what their kids need, doesn’t mean they should have to move mountains.
Fully funding education means that the above situations don’t have to be so common. Safe and functional spaces for kids to learn, fair compensation and a protected retirement for teachers, adequate support for professional development and training so that teachers can be prepared for the subjects they teach–these things should not be the exception. Fully funding education should be the rule.
Kentucky teachers are speaking out about the needs of their students — and their own very real needs. Teachers, as Michelle notes, deserve professional compensation and a secure retirement. Students deserve safe spaces to learn and adequate learning materials (textbooks, technology, classroom supplies).
Kentucky is in danger of falling behind after years of making great gains. As these teachers note, Kentucky students deserve better — and they can’t wait for the legislature to put it off until a more comfortable budget year. Leadership requires tough choices. The question is: Will Kentucky’s legislators lead, or will they allow Kentucky to fall behind?
For more on Kentucky education politics and policy, follow @KYEdReport