In March of 2007 the Alabama legislature lambasted Alabama voters. It seems that on the very first year of their four year term, on the second day of the regular session the majority Democrats managed to introduce and push through a little piece of legislation called HJR 29. This tiny, not spoken of piece of work was not very important. It was not even hardly important enough to talk about on the election trails. Nope, it was just an insignificant little item that raised their pay by a whopping 62% effective at the beginning of the session. Governor Riley did the gentlemanly thing and vetoed the pay raise, but on to no avail. It was put into effect with a veto override on March 20th. Now, I don’t know about you….but never in my life have I ever received a 62% pay raise. I have never even received a 10% pay raise. I am in public education. The biggest one I remember was 7 and it was divided over two years. The circumstances surrounding the 62% pay raise made it clear that the legislators were no dummies and this had been being set up for a long time. I find it ironic that not one single legislator mentioned the pay raise on the campaign trail. Not one. It is also interesting that it was the very first item to pass that session. Kind of makes you wonder what the agenda was. Personally I think they were trying to put as much time between the scandalous pay raise and the next elections as possible. Four years is a long time to do wonderful things…and have your constituents forget you voted for the raise. I am shocked, although I shouldn’t be at just how well orchestrated this action was. I cannot believe how quickly it “snuck” through without hardly anyone noticing. My conclusion on this is that they knew it was wrong and would be unpopular and ever single legislator who voted for it ought to be ashamed of themselves. And the saddest part yet was that even after the veto and overwhelming groundswell of public outcry they voted to put the raise into effect anyway. But I am not going to talk about the 62% pay raise today….I just needed it as a spring board for my real topic. I am probably not going to be popular today….but you all know…I am a teacher. Earlier this month because the state tax revenues earmarked for education have continued to decline due to recession, Governor Bob Riley increased the level of proration in the Education Trust Fund to 11 percent for the 2009 fiscal year, which ends September 30. This is the year we are in right now. That means…that funding we thought we had and budgeted for….in order for the school year to begin….and the fiscal year to end (and those are two separate items)….has to be cut AGAIN another 2% for a total of 11%. Sooooo….school systems who don’t have the extra 2% laying around are just out of luck. When the 9% proration went into effect in December our school system cut our Teacher Allocation Money….(this year there will be none), field trips were eliminated using school buses, if you had a refrigerator or microwave in your room it would cost you, personally, $35.00 a semester to keep it. I became the sole Spanish teacher at my school, which meant huge classes, some coaching supplements were cut, and at one point some non-self-supporting athletic programs were cut. Some of you may not be aware of proration….but in the life of an educator it is a word that makes us shake with fear. For education it means that teachers are cut, class sizes increase, and all the fluff is trimmed. The Dictionary definition of proration is the process of cutting appropriations when revenues fall short of projections. It is sad times…The economy stinks, people are out of work and cannot find jobs, education is prorated 11%, and with all the hard times….our legislators….they get a 62% pay raise. The Federal Education program lovingly(NOT) known as No Child Left Behind on paper looked so good…..but in functional reality….stunk! Highly Qualified teachers were needed….not let me go there…I have a Master’s Degree AND additional coursework from a Nationally Accredited State University….actually two of them….and IF it had not been for the very first round of teacher tests that were given back in the late 80’s and then abolished I would have not been highly qualified….but someone with no education coursework, no experience in education….just because they were degreed in a subject….would be. DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE? I went to school, did countless observations/internships in classrooms. I studied what makes adolescents tick….and have 20+ years experience. What is wrong with this picture? No other field has this issue. When you graduate and do your residency as a doctor….you are ….a doctor. When you finish your nursing degree….you are a nurse….after you pass the state boards. I don’t think the test issue is a problem. I took tests…in every field I can teach….I paid for and took….a test in English, Spanish, Secondary Education….and Sociology. I am one Highly Qualified Teacher! But, I think the nation has made education a non-essential line item. For every great general….there was a teacher in his/her past. For every legislator….there was a teacher in the past, for ever doctor, nurse, architect, landscaper, writer, reader, you name it….there was a teacher lurking in the past. Yet, education in our nation has fallen as a casualty of war. We can bail out car companies, we can bail out banks, but….we can’t invest in the education systems of our nation. But you know….we are like the phoenix and we will rise from these ashes too. When we are given lemons…we make lemonade….we may not have money to add sugar….but we make it anyway…..and learn to like it that way. You can’t get us down….we may never get a 62% pay raise….and you may suck us dry with governmental programs that have to be complied with….but you know what….we will continue to educate the children….when we have no parental support, no money, no respect from the students we teach,….we will trudge along….because we do what we do….we teach.
I am a woman who wears many hats and loves them all. I am a singer - I sing with the group Still Magnolias. I was part of the original First United Methodist Church Arbor Praise Team until we moved. After 24+ years of teaching English 11 and Spanish I - II at Benjamin Russell High School I decided to take a job closer to home. I now teach Spanish I & 2 at Randolph Co. High School and Wadley. I thought I was getting close to retirement and looking forward to it, but decided to move my cheese and try something different. I am a preacher's wife and a preacher myself. My husband Frank is the pastor at Rock Mills United Methodist Church and I am the pastor at Midway (Wedowee). It has made our conversations interesting, to say the least.