Something stinks in this country, and it is our politicians and the games they play.
I grew up in a medium-sized, blue collar city in the Midwest. My family was middle-class, with my dad working two jobs and my mom staying at home with us kids (3 of us) until we were older. Then she too got a job. I grew up with a strong work ethic, and as I got older I began to believe in equal opportunities for all and in helping out those less fortunate. I also believed in the power of one person to make a difference. All of those are reasons I became a teacher.
Unfortunately, I think I've become jaded. You see, I've always believed that politicians ran for office to represent their constituents. But more and more often, I see that they are only out for themselves and their own personal glory. Money and party ties have become more meaningful to our representatives than the wishes of the citizens. When did this happen?
It happens at all levels--federal, state, and local. Most recently in my own life I have become involved in a fight to fully fund my county's school district. At first, I took the fight to the state level. My state representatives kept telling me and others that the state is broke. So, I took the fight to the county level. I found out that my county made $54 million in a lump sum for the lease of some land to Carolina Healthcare System. In addition to that one time lump payment, the county will also receive money (I think it is 6 million dollars but I cannot be certain) from CHS every year for the next 50 years. (How in the world a healthcare system has 54 million dollars to spend at one time for one small piece of land is a mystery to me? But that is a topic someone else is going to have to investigate because I just don't have the energy.) Okay, I thought. The county has the money to fully fund the school system's budget. They only need about 10 million more dollars to balance it. Silly me! Of COURSE it is more complicated than that, well at least according to the county commissioners. I found out that the Board of Education needs to request that money from the county first.
Well, I'll start pressuring the BOE members to ask the county for the money. Maybe they think county citizens won't support them if they ask for that much, or maybe they are unaware of all that money that is just sitting in the bank. Interestingly enough, I soon found out that some Board of Education members aren't willing to ask for that much money from the county. I ask you--WHY THE HELL NOT? Something just isn't adding up . . .
I just don't know what to do anymore. The politicians at all levels are pointing fingers at each other. In the meantime, our school system still has a 9.6 million dollar shortfall for the next school year. At the time of this writing, ALL teacher assistants have been told they will not have jobs next year, as well as 50 interim teaching positions. (An interesting side note here is that one of those interim positions is held by the Teacher of the Year at one of our elementary schools. Seriously--the county is willing to dump a TEACHER OF THE YEAR?) What do all of these politicians think is going to happen to the economy with all of these newly unemployed people? Not to mention, the children and their education will suffer without proper staffing at schools.
I guess the people in charge just don't care about the average citizen anymore. But rest assured-I (and many other people I know) will continue to fight for what we know is right until our throats are raw and our voices are hoarse and our hands are tired from writing letters. We will not give up. This is our country, and the children are the future.