Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Weeds






According to Dictionary.com, Weed is defined as follows:

weed
1[weed]
–noun
1. a valueless plant growing wild, esp. one that grows on cultivated ground to the exclusion or injury of the desired crop.
2. any undesirable or troublesome plant, esp. one that grows profusely where it is not wanted.

For those of you who do not know, I'm teaching in a district where the teachers do not have a contract. We have been negotiating to come up with an equitable contract that is best for the district, teachers and the students. I'm not going to get into the logistics of the negotiating process, but I do want to comment on what one School Board member was overheard saying. One board member, who has been screaming for pay cuts up to 22% for some teachers, was heard saying that Teachers are the weeds of the district. Now, he claims that the comment was taken out of context. I'm not sure what context being called a weed is ok, but many of us were very hurt by this comment.

According to the definition, a weed is a valueless plant. Statements like that make me feel valueless. I'm up and at school by 6:50am to get ready for school that starts at 8:00am. I chaperon dances, advise student clubs, tutor outside of school hours, mentor at-risk students, run a tech blog for the district and a host of many other things that have significant value to my school and the lives of students. I do not have to do any of those things. I do them because I know that students need the support of their teachers to be successful in school. What role do you, Mr. School Board Member, actually play in their education? How many times have you been in my building? Have you even been to all of the buildings in the district. A little bird has told me no. If you pull us out of the district, what is going to grow in it's place?

Mr. School Board Member, we are not the weeds of the district garden. We are the gardener. We work hard to cultivate the minds and bodies of your children to ensure they will grow just right. We plant the seeds of success in our students. The seeds of knowledge, the seeds of integrity, the seeds of hope, the seeds of inspiration, the seeds of dreams, the seeds love and so many more. If you remove the gardeners, what do you have? Are you going to plant the seeds? Do you know how to plant?

We were hired to do a tough, back breaking job. Every year, the state gives us less support and fewer tools, but we are expected to produce an even better crop than the year before. For years, we have produced some of the best students in the state and I'm proud to be a part of that. There is only so much you can take away from teachers before it does impact the students in the classroom. You hired some of the best gardeners in the state, why turn your back on us now? Have you thought about what your garden is going to look like when you get rid of all of the master gardeners?

While I was at the board meeting last night, I was almost moved to tears at the supportive Tweets from my PLN when I passed on the "weeds" comment. I know that what I do every day matters because there are people around the world that do the same thing and I know they matter. I have value because I see the kids smile when the realize they learn something. I have value because students run to me to let me know they got into their first choice of college. I have value because graduates come back and thank me for project that taught them Mood and Tone. I have value because without me, who is going to teach these children? Is it you Mr. School Board Member?