15 August 2015

First day of school jitters

"Hi, I am David's mother.  What's your name?  Do you have a plan?"
That was my introduction to the teacher standing in my son's 2nd grade classroom on the first day of school.  The teacher with the guest badge hanging around his neck who was obviously confused as to what the day was going to hold.  Who didn't know he was supposed to meet the class on the playground because no one knew the drill yet.  Not the most exciting way to leave your eager 7 year old on the first day.

Regardless of my mommy panic, Munchkin was still very excited.  I bottled up the concern I'm certain was written all over my face in order to send him off in good spirits and spoke to several parents outside the classroom. We all agreed we were going to speak with the administration because they owed us an explanation.

I called and left the principal a voicemail on my drive to work.  I learned later in the day that his assigned teacher had been on maternity leave since April.  So why on August 13th did we not have this figured out?  Why on the first day of school was a substitute guest teacher who had just been called in that morning there to greet my son?  I don't send my second grader to daycare and for a warm body to man the room. I send him there to learn.
Albuquerque Public Schools is facing a teacher shortage.  The state of New Mexico is facing a teacher shortage.  Many of my teacher friends assert it is because of the failed policies of the current administration.  When does policy take precedent over learning? How could our schools have reached such a crisis state that our kids are being greeted in the classroom on one of the most important days of their lives by an unprepared substitute? A warm body.
The principal called me around 5:45 and informed me the long-term substitute would be there tomorrow and reassured me they had a plan.  I met the substitute the next day and she told me the administration had given her a start date that was still two weeks away.  I made sure she knew I'm here to offer support in any way she needs it.
Public school advocacy is not an area of my expertise but I'm ready to rally around whatever needs to be done to improve our schools. I'm a believer in public education. I'm also a single mom who doesn't believe I should have to pay property taxes and private school tuition.  This is Albuquerque for goodness sake. If I wanted to do that I would move back to Baltimore (no shade).
So what is the answer? I need someone to lead me.  The voices I hear on one end seem to be filled with so much opposition to the current administration that their message doesn't get heard. The school board that tried to take a stand ended up caving.  Who is leading the conversation?  Who is offering solutions?    Who can teach me?

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