As a 4th grade teacher, Monica McCauley has a bird’s-eye view of how Michiganâ€™s state budget crisis is hurting kids and why we need to support a jobs bill that would keep our state and our kids from falling behind.
â€œIn Oakland County we continue to struggle with job loss, home foreclosures and for the first time in our history, the huge loss of our industrial base,â€ says McCauley. â€œDespite these struggles, Rochester Schools has still maintained a reputation for excellence.â€
But maybe not for long.
â€œUnfortunately, the economic crisis is not only knocking on the door of our schools but itâ€™s threatening to knock entire schools down,â€ she says. â€œTeachers and support staff are being laid off by the hundreds of thousands all across the country. In Rochester alone, 60 positions in our district have been eliminated, and more lay-offs are being considered. â€œ
In addition to laying off educators, Rochester Schools District is considering cutting teachersâ€™ salaries, adding to the long list of families who continue to struggle as their pay decreases and the cost of living rises.
â€œTeachers on my staff who are the sole breadwinners of their households are already working second jobs to support their families,â€ explains McCauley. â€œOne of my fellow staff members bartends on the weekends. Many teach summer school and several tutor after school and throughout the summer to help supplement their incomes. If teachers continue to experience cut backs, many good teachers may choose to leave the teaching profession in an effort to find more security and higher paying jobs.â€
Fortunately, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) I sponsoring a bill in Congress called the Keep Our Educators Working Act. It would create a $23 billion fund to keep teachers, media center personnel, psychologists, social workers, principals and paraprofessionals in all states working. The bill would provide nearly $745 million to Michigan for 6,200 teachers.
Right now would be a good time to let Michiganâ€™s Senators Levin and Stabenow know you support Harkinâ€™s bill by going to http://progressmichigan.org/page/s/saveschools. Rochesterâ€™s students could definitely use the money.
â€œOur Special Education staff is shrinking but the need for resource support continues to grow,â€ she says. â€œIn my classroom, over 50% of my students benefit from pull-out programs that target teach to their needs in small groups. Once a ‘small group’ exceeds a ratio of 5 students to one teacher, the effectiveness of small group teaching diminishes exponentially. I see first -hand Special Education teachers who regularly service groups of 14 students, and that is before the cutbacks that will take place for the 2010-2011 school year.”
â€œOur Technology experts in the Media Center have already been cut. Media Assistant positions have been eliminated and our Media Technology person is expected to travel next year to service more than one school. While she is gone our computer lab will be locked.â€
Thanks to Progress Michigan for this article, a copy of which appears on their website.