Some Thoughts On Teacher Appreciation
At the beginning of May we celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Week. The reality is, many teachers face anything but appreciation in the classroom. Teachers are forced to deal with the results of state budget cuts while at the same time, expected to perform to perfection with limited resources in order to meet state mandates.
In Fiscal Year 2013, Ohio’s schools are facing a budget deficit of over $1.13 billion. The financial outlook becomes bleaker in Fiscal Year 2014, when the combined budget deficit reaches over $1.78 billion. These unprecedented cuts have led to teacher and staff layoffs and potential reductions in curriculum across the state.
School districts have taken massive hits on Governor Kasich’s watch. Lakewood City Schools’ projections for the next two fiscal years are short by about $13-15 million. If we want to just get by, the money will have to come from somewhere. Lawmakers can’t keep crying wolf about our schools, saying we have to de-fund them to “fix them.” Not only does doing so work against students, families and teachers, but it builds a narrative that public education is so askew that we should settle on privatizing tax dollars for education without acknowledging the excellence that also exists in many of our public schools.
I want to state here that I support Mayor Jackson’s plan as presented to the Legislature through HB 525. I participated in many of the planning meetings in a process nothing short of amazing. A group of concerned leaders from the Mayor, school superintendent, business and philanthropy made room at the table to include teachers and legislators to refine a plan in hopes of reinventing the CMSD. I support the legislation as introduced because sometimes exercising leadership requires taking a risk, and this plan gives hope to our children and their future beyond partisan rhetoric.
In this challenging climate other casualties emerge that give me pause. Women are disproportionately affected by education budget cuts as they make up the majority of teachers in our state. According to the Cleveland Teachers Union, 63% of those who will lose their jobs with the Cleveland City Schools are women. The Department of Education states that 85,045 of the total 113,123 teachers in Ohio are women. De-funding education certainly will have a negative impact on women and their families. Not much appreciation felt here.
Today, as we continue to face economic challenges, budget deficits, and competing requests for funds such as quality education for all, the public may begin to place blame and point to quick fixes. But in the spirit of National Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s remember that our teachers are actually investing in Ohio and our children. Maybe the state should think about doing the same.
State Representative Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) is honored to be serving her first term in the Ohio House of Representatives. House District 13 covers the city of Lakewood in its entirety and parts of Cleveland’s West Side including the Detroit Shore way (Gordon Square), the Stockyards, West Boulevard, Cuddell, and a section of Ohio City. Representative Antonio is a civic minded humanitarian who is concerned with the quality of life of those around her. She is a founding member of the Community Relations Advisory Commission made up of residents that broadly represent social, economic and culturally diverse interests of Lakewood, Ohio. She currently serves on the Health and Aging Committee, Education Committee and Commerce and Labor Committee. These committees are of special interest to Representative Antonio. She will be able to stand up for working families, education, and health and human services. Daughters Ariel and Stacey, both Lakewood High School graduates, have made Nickie and partner Jean Kosmac very proud as the girls engage in their post-secondary pursuits