Help! I Am Being Robbed! · 9 February 2011

I am being robbed, and there is not much I can do about it. I have been robbed before by the same group and even now, they are planning on taking more from me. I do not really have a choice in the matter because of who the people doing the robbing are, but at least I can give a cry for help. For myself and those just like me who are also being robbed.

If I was being robbed because of where I live, I could move. If I was being robbed at the store where I shop, I could change stores. But I am being robbed because of my profession, and even though I could find a different career, I am not ready to do that yet. I love what I do and I love the people I work with. Therein lies the rub.

When the gang that robbed me before did so, they figured that they could pull off the heist in plain sight. They figured that nobody would care if they did it. And they figure the same thing will happen this time. Nobody will say anything, because they run this place. After all, they are the government.

When the legislature took away money that their constituents promised to teachers, they stole from all of us. Not just teachers, everybody. Now, they are threatening to steal more money from a group of teachers. They want to take the extra pay from those who are recognized as National Board Certified Teachers.

Personally, I did not become nationally certified for the money. I did it because I figured I was as good of a teacher as those around me who had become certified. The only thing that I cared about when it came to the money was that I got back the amount I paid into the process. Like many accomplishments in my life, I became nationally certified just to say I did it.

There are others like me who teach because they love what they do and they love the kids. Many others. We have gone through heavy-handed school reform. We have gone through countless hours of training and retraining, sometimes on subjects which are merely to cover somebody’s backside. We have gone through periods of harsh criticism and intense scrutiny. We have gone through budget cuts and broken promises, sometimes to the point where we wonder if anybody values what we do. And through it all, we still teach.

Contrary to what most of us reply when asked, we do not teach either general or specific subject matter. Rather, we teach children and young adults. We teach them how to read and write and do arithmetic. We teach them how to learn. We teach them how to follow and how to lead. We teach them how to be responsible citizens of our country and of our world.

When the legislature steals the money due to educators, they really are stealing from everybody. They are taking away opportunities from the students to have more individual class time with teachers because class sizes increase. They are taking potential teachers away from the pool of committed individuals who might choose education as a profession except for the broken promises and uncertain funding. They are taking trust from the taxpayers who believe that the schools are just not using their money wisely. And they are taking qualified applicants away from employers who wonder why it seems kids do not want to work anymore.

It is interesting to me that in many industries, money is thrown at problems which might or might not go away with the spending. But in educational funding, no penny is sacred. Even if it was put into law. Back in the early 1970s, a billboard in Seattle read, “Will the last person leaving SEATTLE – Turn out the lights.” With the legislature proposing to steal from not just teachers, but all of education, I wonder if somebody might post a billboard that says, “Will the last person leaving the schools, please turn out the lights?” Then again, who would there be who could read it?

If the legislature is poised to steal from me, teachers, and indeed all of education, who are they poised to steal from next?

© 2011 Michael T. Miyoshi

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