Must education be held like a prisoner and educators be fed to the alligators, with our children staring in dismay because of how funding has muscled through the inner fabric of their classrooms and intellectual development? Funding; monetary transactions that are tied to learning like a piece of cheese neatly laid on a mouse trap. Yes funding; everywhere I turned and every conversation I had with administrators and principals on programs and activities had a way of leading back to funding. As one principal stated recently, “we don’t have the funds allocated to hire additional teachers to assist students who did poorly last year on the FCAT”. Funding has spoken and those students who did poorly on the FCAT last year are clearly out of luck for any improvement on the FCAT this year so the cycle continues.
The core foundation of an education is to translate obstacles into possibilities and opportunities, yet our children on a daily basis in the public school system are being fed the education of scarcity. Cay Jay raised his hand, “Mrs. Mcknight may I use the computer?” Mrs McKnight answered “Sure you may use the computer after Sue, John, Malik, Sandra, Mary, Omar, Mao, Taj, Clarice and Beth”. By the time the bell rang, Cay Jay two days in a row had missed the opportunity to use the computer because funding has dictated that the school can only have three computers in the media room to be shared by 35 students. Funding, the mysterious term being tossed in the midst of a mismanaged budget and in some schools no budget except for the results of state standardized test scores which will determine how much money, if any, the school will receive. Funding; the game that’s being played and the contestants are fully unaware of its future implications on the lives of our future leaders.
Funding is a term that has divided communities, legislators and educators. In certain communities FUNDING has translated itself with great pride by congratulating the beneficiaries with adequate support that promotes learning, technological implementation and facility planning. For legislators the term funding means productivity in producing the desired scores and learning outcomes or whatever the state mandates as the new teaching standards. For educators the term funding is divided into three parts; educators as the improvise machine, the bridge, and the artificial flower in the corner, because teaching is the business of the State and not of teachers; it’s like taking every parent’s parental rights and giving it to a corporate entity to manage. As the improvise machine, teachers must find ways to inspire students to learn while indirectly agreeing to the teach to test method that is now a performance base pay, it’s like being caught in Alcatraz with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide and nothing left to do but comply.
This is a community wide misconception found in almost every community where teachers are viewed as the bridge between administration and parental involvement, learning and motivation, classroom management, mannerism and etiquette, and test scores, grades and learning outcomes. Some teachers, if not all, have played the artificial flower role at some point in their teaching careers. Some teachers might remember it as “Do as you’re told”, and give us 120 percent while you are at it. Some teachers moan and groan because of the constant shift of learning and the stagnation of an educational system that refuses to move beyond barriers, and become that promise which they sought after in teachers as motivators and the torch bearer of great hope; yet all the three parts mentioned above must be fully functional on a daily basis to keep administrators and principals at bay, and to stay in compliance with the state teaching standards. All of the functional parts must be rehearsed daily in order to convince parents and the public that teachers are in control of their classrooms when in reality test scores and the State determine which school receives funding that will promote learning, technological implementation and facility planning. All of the functional parts must be rehearsed daily in order to convince parents and the public that teachers are being compensated adequately for the lifetime of inspiration instilled in our children daily when in reality, in some public school districts, teachers have not seen a raise for the past five years, no teacher training i.e. due to funding.
Ask not what FUNDING can do for you; ask how many qualified, passionate educators are leaving the teaching profession because of a shift in teaching and the rise of education as a business. Ask not what FUNDING can do for you, ask how many students are graduating as functional illiterates due to lack of funding, and teachers teaching from outdated textbooks. Ask not what FUNDING can do for you when lack of funding has most educators in the public school system in a choke hold gasping for air. Funding is the real bridge between learning and educational standards.