Get it Together Oregon Legislature: Education Matters

To whom it may concern,

I am a middle school teacher in the Reynolds School District and I love my job. This is my first year working for this district and my seventh overall year as a teacher. I was saddened to hear today that school budgets are on the chopping block again. Over seven years of teaching I have been through at least seven years of budget cuts, have been laid off twice, and closed two schools. I have not been laid off because I wasn’t doing my job or because of lack of performance: I was laid off because of budget cuts. This is the job I had hoped would be the job I’d have for the rest of my career. I’m not sure how to tell you how saying goodbye to schools is one of the hardest things a teacher ever has to do, not just because I have to find a new job, but because I’ve made connections and formed special relationships with the students, staff, and community. It’s not just my job that is on the line, but also 60 other educators in my district should you choose to cap funding at $7.2 billion this year.

I love my job despite teaching in an overcrowded, high poverty school. I love my job even when it means cramming 37 students into a room with only 36 desks and enough real space for less than 30 people. I love my job even when I have to share my classroom with two other teachers for half the day and then travel to two separate classrooms on a cart for the other half, interrupting those teachers’ prep times. I love my job even though I do not have the computers required for what the Common Core Standards ask us to teach. I love my job.

I love my job, and I give it my all for my students. These 7th and 8th graders are kind, bright, caring, giving, and generous. They overcome tremendous adversity just to walk in the building. I teach in a school with 75% free and reduced lunch, students who come from various cultures and ethnicities, from homes who speak 30 different languages, some with every advantage, many more without a stable home-life. These students need every advantage they can get; cutting funding would be devastating to them. They might not see it at first, until they realize that class sizes are going up, electives are being cut, computers are outdated or nonexistent, breakfasts and lunches are getting smaller, textbooks are irrelevant, and their teachers are stressed to a breaking point. My course, in particular, helps give students who are close to passing the state test in reading a fighting chance. My course also gives students who are academically gifted a chance to progress further than what their Language Arts course, alone, can give them. But my course could be cut with an inadequate school budget.

I urge you again to consider the people behind your budget numbers. People like my students, my fellow teachers, and people like me: a teacher who loves her job.

Sincerely

Jennifer Hamilton

About The Author: Jay Scott

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