A Mother’s Letter to the Teachers in Crisis

“What are they gonna do, fire me?” This statement has been said thousands of times by countless people who are leaving their jobs, whether by their choice or because they were asked to go.

I know the sentiment. I understand the motivation behind saying it. When you are parting ways from a job that you hate or that hates you, you want some kind of control or outlet for your frustration and anger. I’ve said it myself a couple of times but that’s not important. What is the important thing is where and when you say it.

And that place is NOT in a school and NOT in front of students.

Our schools here in Conrad, MT are in a budget crisis. Money that should have been there in a flex fund is not available anymore and so the school district is trying to find ways to cut costs. This includes closing one of the buildings and combining the middle and high school, unfortunately it also includes staff cuts.

No one wants to lose their job and I believe that a teacher losing their job due to money is a crime against our civilization as a whole. For what will become of our society if our children get bargain basement educations. But it is not up to me and it is not up to our teachers. Budgets must be made and cuts will happen. What is important is how these cuts are handled. Unfortunately they are not being handled with dignity in many cases.

Some of the teachers whose contracts have not been renewed have stopped teaching. They come to class and tell the kids to do whatever they want. Projects go unfinished and grades no longer matter. Others are becoming irreverent and going off topic in class to the confusion and astonishment of the students. When they are called out on it by a student the response has become, “What are they gonna do, fire me?”

I understand their feelings. I have been in jobs where downsizing laid of many of the workers or the regime change in management made me lose my job. However, I still worked. I still did the best I could to accomplish my tasks until the very end. It has been all for the good. Yes it stressed me out but I maintained my work ethic and my reputation as a good and reliable worker allowing me to get other jobs in the future.

Their future employment possibilities aside, what about the example they are showing to the students? Instead of continuing to teach with dignity and grace and being the living breathing example of how to handle a bad situation, these teachers are showing the students that an F-U attitude is the way to go. Like little parrots the kids are going home and repeating, “What are they gonna do, fire me?”  Pretty soon they will be at work and when they have a rough time of it they will start doing a half-assed job and their response will be, “What are they gonna do, fire me?” And they will lose their jobs.

Most of the younger generation already doesn’t know how to handle adversity, now they are getting an up-close and personal view of how not to handle job loss with dignity. This could be a great teaching moment when the teacher says, “Yes, I’m losing my job and it sucks! But this happens sometimes in the real world and this is how you should handle it.” We could be really teaching our children one of life’s most important lessons right now, HOW TO PICK YOURSELF UP, DUST YOURSELF OFF AND KEEP GOING WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN.

Kids look up to teachers. They are some of the most influential people in their lives. We live the rest of our lives by what our teachers showed us when we were children. How many times have you looked back and thought about a teacher from your past and how that person changed your life. This is the moment that will change these students’ lives forever.

Please, I beg you, think of the lives you are influencing with your behavior right now.

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