Recently this article was published by The Atlantic entitled Can Schools Be Fixed?, all of this shows some inidividuals feelings of despair and feelings of hope. Fellow #oklaed blogger, Rob Miller, from View From the Edge issued a blogging challenging to all the #oklaed bloggers to create our own reason for despair and reason for hope. I might have broken the rules and included more than one reason for hope, because you know unicorns. Thank you Rob for this challenge, I'm looking forward to seeing what this year will hold for all of us!!
Reason for Despair
My reason for despair is a number. 49. That is currently where Oklahoma ranks in education spending per student and in teacher pay. That number has lead to a whole hosts of other issues. The biggest being the largest teacher shortage crisis that the state has ever faced. Why does this number bring me so much despair? Because of the sheer amount of people that are okay with this number, those that are okay with being ranked so close to dead last. It is not okay. It will never be okay. If you have been paying attention to the news recently you will hear and see stories surrounding the mid year budget failure, more money and more resources being cut from public education. The victims of this number 49. Every single one of us. Every single citizen of Oklahoma. How did this happen? How did we let this happen? What are we doing to fix it? What is our legislature doing to fix it? This number. This piece of information just makes me sad.
Reasons for Hope
I wouldn't be the unicorns and rainbows blogger that I am if I didn't believe in hope. I have hope and lots of it! I still believe and firmly believe that education can change the world!
My first and biggest reason for hope is another number. 140. That is the number of students that walk into my classroom everyday. They are not data points on a chart, but they are some of the brightest young musicians on the face of the earth. They make me a better person. Each day I have the greatest privilege in the world of waking up and teaching them. More than that I get to teach how to sing. Singing and making music is how I cope with this messed up world. I get to do this. I get to share what I love with middle school students. I tell my students everyday, that they have a song to sing, and it is my job to help make their song better. The world deserves to hear their song. No matter what, I'm impacting their lives. When I look at my students I see hope. I see a group of young teenagers poised to change the world. I firmly believe that when we teach students to see the beauty in the world and ultimately how they can make the world beautiful. We win. Everyone wins.
My second reason for hope, I work with some of the most amazing educators on the planet. The team of teachers, administration, counselors, and support staff assembled at my school work day in and day out to do what is best for kids. I am constantly amazed by the things that go on in the classrooms of my co-workers. When I hear students say they love their teachers and they love their school, it gives me hope. Some of my closest and most meaningful friendships I have right now in my life are my colleagues. Their love and care over my life is overwhelmly beautiful. They give me hope. I work with the most caring, compassionate, loving, bold, generous, and out of the box thinkers out there.
My third reason for hope. Educators in Oklahoma. Over the past four to five years I have been blown away by caliber of teachers that I have met in this state. Each Sunday night I am challenged through the #oklaed Twitter chats, I am encouraged by these educators, and I am deeply grateful for their love and devotion to the students that they serve. They are brave, They are bold, They fight every single day to make things better for their students and for teachers across the state. As a music educator, I am a part of two organizations that have connected me with other music educators. We do not get to see each other all the time, but when we do we are able to share, grow, and make each other better. We are in this together.
My fourth reason for hope. Donuts. That's all.
There are uphill battles ahead. They will be hard. They will stretch us. I will admit that there are reasons for us to have despair. There are reasons for us to be concerned, worried, outraged, and even a little scared. But...there is hope. There is always hope. There are always unicorns and rainbows. If you are involved in education, share your story. Tell the world. You have a song of hope to sing, and the world deserves to hear it.