Sometimes My Rants Do Serve a Purpose- Education Budgets, Career Paths, and Following Your Heart

My sixteen your old niece piped up with her opinion about online rants this week:

“Sorry to inform you no one cares.”

She wasn’t speaking to me directly, and she’s most likely right.  But I can’t stop myself from ranting.  I’m a natural born soap boxer.

I’ve posted recently about cuts to Arizona school budgets.  This past Monday, I went to a meeting at my son’s school to discuss how we are going to face this crisis.  I say “we” because that is the feeling I walked away with- that parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators are working on this problem together.  It is not a bad feeling to have.  Who doesn’t want allies by your side when you are facing a tough time?

I’m the mom of a Kindergartener, so a lot of this stuff is new to me.  I assumed all schools in our district were having similar meetings, but it turns out that is not the case.  The feedback I am receiving is that at many schools, including parents in the budget process is not the norm.  That might be an easier approach.  But as a parent, I appreciate the transparency, and the understanding that my input is valuable.

Our principal laid out the line items that we could consider reducing to meet our budget.  We were told that she provided the same list to her staff, and asked them to prioritize where to spend and save.  She asked us to do the same.  Of course she worded things carefully, and we could have used with a little more data, but we worked together to come up with a plan.

We are lucky to live in a school district where the PTO is active, financially sound, and eager to help.  Of course, providing the help can get confusing.  There are rules as to what sorts of things they can and can not pay for.  There is a worry that if they start supplementing funds, our budget will never be restored.

I had anticipated seeing the room packed with parents.  There were about fifty people in attendance, and I am told that is a good number.  PTO officers were quick to point out that they have nowhere near that many parents attending regular meetings.  I’m sure it is frustrating to try to help and to feel like you are doing all the work yourself.  But there was some talk of how to get parents involved in new ways- webinars and school incentives for attending meetings.

One thing I appreciated was that after the meeting, the PTO sent out a list of government officials you could contact to voice your opinion of the budget.  I’ve put that contact list at the end of this post if you would like to make your voice heard.  There is also a protest at the Capitol for education funding scheduled for March 5 at 4:15pm.

https://www.facebook.com/events/444323762387359

Engaging in the process has been very emotional for me, not only as a parent with school-aged children, but as a student of education.  I am not sure I am up to the task of being a teacher- the hours, the stress, the minuscule pay.  I was feeling pretty defeated, and was once again ranting via FB.

A parent and friend wrote a beautiful response to my negativity.  I wish I could find it so I could quote it accurately, but it has disappeared into a facebook blackhole.  She said something along the lines of when people utilize their talents to the best of their abilities, they feed off of challenges that could have defeated them.

That really made me think.  What is my talent?  What about teaching makes me really excited?  I went into elementary education because I thought it was a safer career choice, but it’s not where my heart is.

I LOVE working with small children.  I want to get messy.  Play-doh and fingerpaint and slime are my favorite mediums for teaching.  I like sensory play.  I enjoy every task having a song associated with it.  I love the fresh thinking of preschoolers.  Their ideas aren’t tainted with preconceived expectations.  Anything is possible.

If I’m going to be overworked and underpaid, I’m going to devote my time to a  job I love.  I admit it.  I want to be a preschool teacher.  I know, NO ONE WANTS to be a preschool teacher.  But I do.  I think I’d be good at it.

So I’m applying to switch over to earn my BAS in Early Childhood and Family Studies.  I used to think why would you pay money for such a worthless degree? You are never going to get a good job with that.   But I like learning.  I enjoy taking classes.  If nothing else, the education will be the reward.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that following the path of my heart will lead to a job that can sustain me both financially and emotionally.

When I made this choice, I felt instantly like I was doing the right thing.  We’ll see if it pans out that way, but right now I feel good.

I’m receiving signs that I’m on the right path- not from the universe, but from people that know me.  Ok, I’m reading into the signs, but I’ll take positive vibes where I can get them.

I decided to move forward with researching a child-centered business.  A friend and I discussed the business a few months ago, and then left it sitting.  I figured as long as I was trying to make my dreams come true, I might as well look into it and start developing the idea more seriously.  The day I decided to talk with her about it, before I said anything, she brought me this sign.

P1170405

I bought a pack of die cut letters from the dollar store.  Kellen loves letters, and I thought he might enjoy posting messages around the house.  This is what he wrote.

P1170406

Liam had to get in on the action.  In case you can’t make it out, the note is supposed to read “1 2 3 Rock!”

P1170407

Alright, let’s do this.  1 2 3 ROCK!

See, Kaile, sometimes ranting pays off in ways you never expected.  But yes, most of the time, no one really cares.

Contact list for education budget concerns:

Gov. Doug Ducey

engage@az.gov

Phone (602) 542-4331

Debra Davenport

Auditor General

ddavenport@azauditor.gov

Phone (602) 553-0333

Supt. Diane Douglas

adeinbox@azed.gov

Phone (602) 542-5460

Sen. Jeff Dial

jdial@azleg.gov

Phone (602) 926-5550 Fax (602) 417-3120 

Rep. Jill Norgaard

jnorgaard@azleg.gov

Phone (602) 926-3140 Fax (602) 417-3265

Rep. Bob Robson

brobson@azleg.gov

Phone (602) 926-5549 Fax (602) 417-3157

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