Did you know that President Obama is attempting to eradicate holidays and birthdays from the curriculum? No? That’s probably because it’s possibly the most ridiculous and untrue statement ever repeated to me while playing my monthly Bunco game.
At the time of this writing, results from the 2012 election were not in, and, frankly, I don’t care. Before you stop reading, this isn’t about our presidential election. It’s about some Utah parents’ complete lack of interest in the school system — apathy about what takes place less than a mile from their homes. Instead, their minds are hundreds of miles away, fighting a battle it takes billions to win.
Forget holidays and birthdays, we should be concerned about massive class sizes, the low cost spent on each student, and the sad fact that curriculum is dictated by state lawmakers, not teachers. Many parents fret over delusions like Obama giving two shakes about birthdays and holidays during an election year and an economy that’s in the toilet.
Now, before I start on my rant, I’ll participate in full disclosure, unlike our favorite politicians: My mother is a teacher.
She spends her days with many, many sweaty bodies filling her classroom, bodies that wiggle, make noise, and somehow keep her enjoying this job for more than 20 years. I wouldn’t have made it through the first hour of my first year as a teacher without a complete mental breakdown wherein I eat paste and slam my head repeatedly on my desk.
It should be known that teaching is not a church calling, but an actual job. Utah has the highest student-to-teacher ratio in the nation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Many of you parents out there read this startling sentence, and didn’t care. Scary.
In a couple of years, Scarlett will be prancing down the halls in one of Weber County’s fine establishments, but will she be one of 35 faceless students? When Brian and I went house hunting four years ago, we worried about class size … kinda. I didn’t realize how important class size was until I had my own kid. Now I want her to experience one-on-one attention from her teacher, giving her a better chance to learn to read, count and succeed before she slips through the cracks and decides she hates school.
After quizzing friends around other states, I learned our classrooms are especially full. It makes sense to a degree; we have lots of babies. I myself am ready to have more, to not only replenish but plenish the state. Utah is a baby capital, so naturally space disappears. But what can we as parents do to pare down the student per teacher ratio, without getting our tubes tied?
First, we can start caring about how many bodies take up space. Some parents send their kid off to school without meeting the teacher or principal, or taking the time to see where Junior spends most of his/her time.
I have a feeling that if Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa spent 30 minutes in a full classroom, they’d be banging down the doors at Utah’s Office of Education, demanding class sizes be cut in half.
Second, we need to realize that one parent doesn’t make a difference in making change; you need an army of parents. The school bureaucracy is layer upon layer of confusion, and one voice gets swallowed by silence. During my time working in the Davis School District, I learned it took a flood of calls not only to administrators but also to lawmakers if we needed funding.
Third, teachers are not your enemy. As with any car, house and job, you can find a lemon, but more often than not, teachers feel the same way parents do. Shoot, they don’t make much money, so teachers usually stand in front of that classroom despite the paycheck and because of the students.
Last, realize we will have to pay for our kids. It costs to hire teachers in order to keep sizes down to low twenties, even teens. Compared to the rest of our country, we have fewer people paying into the system, with more elderly and youth. We need to make it a priority in our budget, hold our lawmakers’ feet to the fire after spewing campaign promise after promise to send the money where it needs to go.
SB 31 was a perfect example of how to get sizes down, but unfortunately, it was voted down. Some lawmakers worried this bill, which would lower sizes or the teacher/student ratio for kids in kindergarten to third grade, would force schools to take money from other areas. What’s more important than making sure our students get one-on-one attention?
Right now, my life is a barrage of diapers, bottles, potty training, and a preschooler learning basics like washing her hands after flushing.
Soon, my primary concern will be reading, writing, and arithmetic. I’ll need to focus on Scarlett, Benson, and Three surviving a school system that is clearly broken.
You can disagree with the way I see things. You can hate your kid’s teacher, wishing he/she would burn at the stake, but you can’t disagree that more than 30 to a classroom is a problem.
If you have an idea on how to fix it, throw it out there because I need it fixed ASAP — or at least in the next three years before my kids hit the books.