School starts tomorrow at the public schools here in Texas, and I am not buying Office Depot pocket folders or Staples' eraser packs for a penny apiece today. I'm not even driving from one Target to another so I can pay a nickel per spiral and buy 30 or 40 in a day. (Yes, I do that.)
School starts tomorrow and I didn't spend my weekend setting up a classroom or an office.
For the first time since 1988, school starts tomorrow and I won't be there.
Instead, I have an afternoon appointment at the Texas Workforce Commission's orientation for the unemployed.
Irony of Ironies.
I am not alone though. According to the Texas Tribune,
The Associated Press reported that up to 100,000 of the state's 330,000 teachers might lose their positions. Officials at the Texas State Teachers Association estimate that about 12,000 teachers have lost their jobs so far, and they warn more teachers could be laid off in the second year of budget cuts.
Back in 1988, I accepted a Title VII fellowship from the federal government that paid for my teacher certification program in exchange for an agreement that I would teach ESL or bilingual education in a "high needs area" for three years. The government got its money's worth from me as I extended those three years into 21 years and never left. Until now.
Some years I spent more of my time tutoring small groups, testing, mentoring new teachers, evaluating high school transcripts from 45 countries, acting as a counselor and administering a newcomer program, but mostly I've been in the classroom. Since arriving in Texas in 1998, I've become something of a specialist in teaching SIFE: Students with Interrupted Formal Education, kids with a five year (or more) gap in their education. That is to say, I have become very good at working with war refugees and students so poor that their families couldn't pay for their textbooks or uniforms beyond third grade. I've developed curriculum to help make up for four or five years of middle grades math in a year or two, while integrating English, life skills and US culture. In the past few years, I added English-keyboarding and computer skills to the mix.
But this year, the State of Texas decided that education is not important enough to fund, and my services are no longer required by my district.
What does this mean for the state and for the students?