As a middle school science teacher, I have seen my work load and class size increase at the same time as my supply budget has become almost non-existent. The only aging equipment that can be replaced with the “latest and newest” are overhead projectors and computers, and that’s because of the mandate to replace technology with new equipment.
Teachers are some of the lowest paid professionals in the state. Thanks to budget cuts, many are making less today than they did three years ago. Some have to take a second job just to pay their bills. Yet many teachers still dip into their own pockets and spend hundreds of dollars every year just to provide the basics in their overcrowded classrooms — like pens and paper– because Idaho’s schools have been shortchanged by Luna and the legislature.
Proposition 1 takes away teachers’ freedom to speak up on behalf of Idaho’s students. It makes it illegal for our teachers to discuss classroom funding issues with their own school administrators and it bans them from talking about overcrowding in their classrooms or school safety issues during contract negotiations.
You don’t choose a career in teaching to become rich — especially in Idaho. You do it because you care. Teachers are more than just educators. They’re advocates and mentors for our children. They know what our kids need to succeed. Proposition 2 forces teachers to teach to the test instead of allowing them to inspire more creative thinking in our children.
Each child is unique. It takes a dedicated, caring and highly-trained teacher to reach them. We don’t want to treat students like widgets on an assembly line. We want to make sure our kids are good critical thinkers, not just good test takers.
Prop 3 imposes a largely unfunded mandate that takes away local control and dictates how and what we teach our kids. Forcing local schools to buy expensive technology and to pay for replacement parts will be much more costly than the backers of the laws claim. Kids are kids. Hardware will break. Taxpayers will be left to foot the bill.
Using computers to teach students is good, and already occurs in every school in Idaho. But we shouldn’t have to lay off teachers to buy laptops. We need teachers in the classroom to help our kids learn how to make the most of technology. One of the major providers of online courses in Idaho sent students’ English essays to be reviewed in India. The last thing we should be doing is outsourcing teaching jobs and our students’ education overseas.