Public Plea for Education: Austinites, Please Read

This was written by my very good friend, Laurie, who is a wonderful high school English teacher here in Austin.  I asked her if I could post this to my blog because we need to spread the word immediately.  There is an impending crisis in AISD and as citizens of this city, we can do something to stop it.  Please read below to find out more about what is happening and how you can help!

The Austin ISD public schools are projecting a $35 million shortfall during this coming year. In less than a month, School Board members will be meeting to vote on ways in which to accommodate this deficit.

One of the proposals on the table would be, in my opinion, hugely detrimental to the Austin public schools. The members will be voting on whether or not to take away one planning period from middle and high school teachers. Logistically, this would mean that our planning time would be cut in half. For those that don’t know, that time is when we meet with colleagues to create and refine curriculum, collaborate to better serve students that are struggling, and occasionally have time to actually prep for class and grade papers. In order to be effective in the classroom, teachers need some time to prepare and meet with our coworkers, just as in any other profession.

Cutting this time in half will insure a substantial decline in the education Austin students receive. It WILL be detrimental and damaging to our youth, let alone the quality of life and work conditions for teachers.

In terms of staffing, this move will also mean 1 in 8 teachers at the middle and high school levels will be laid off. 1 in 8. In a district with nearly 40 middle and high schools, this transfers to 600 people. Roughly 600 teachers will lose their jobs.

Let me say that again: 600 PEOPLE in the CITY OF AUSTIN ALONE will lose their jobs. AND THEY DON’T HAVE TO. AND IT WILL HURT AUSTIN’S KIDS.

In order to compensate for the $35 million shortfall, teachers have presented several options to that would allow us to both keep our planning periods and allow those 600 teachers to keep their jobs and maintain the level of quality of our schools. Furthermore, the district has a “rainy day fund” that holds $120 million dollars. I’d say this counts as a rainy day. The board has options and cutting teachers is only one of them.

These cuts are not necessary. We can save our schools.

So what can you do? On Monday evening at 6:30, there will be a school board meeting at 1111 West 6th Street, Room B-100, Austin, Texas. Please be present if possible. If anything, show up in solidarity with teachers. Please. Our school board members, who gain their position by votes, need to see that their voters are not okay with a move that will, without question, hurt Austin children’s education. If you can’t be at the meeting, contact your school board representative. Flood their voicemail. Flood their inbox. Send them letters. If you don’t know who your representative is, a list can be found here:

http://austinisd.org/inside/board/members.phtml

Many of you have have supported me in my efforts as a teacher. I know that you value education and the role it plays in children’s futures. Please, if you live in Austin, take this seriously and speak out. We teachers need you.

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