Commentary | Budget cuts add insult to injury

It’s almost impossible to understand how much weight is put on a classroom teacher. We hold the secrets of our students who have crushes or heartbreaks, we hold space for student tears of anxiety and frustration, we hold onto the dreams of our students as they are confided to us in their work. Over the years of educational reform, teachers have been asked to hold more and more each year with increases of state testing, DEIB training and curriculum revision, SEL protocols and mental health education, RTI implementation and so much more. On top of this, we hold the typical everyday weight of teaching from grading, planning, and direct instruction. We’ve adapted in ways to keep up with these tasks and “asks,” mostly on our personal time. 

And now as PUSD is finally at a doom-filled confrontation, it seems the weight of blame is put on us, too. Throughout the school board meeting on February 14th, several board members alluded to the idea that their hands were tied and they could not accept the dire negotiations of APT without the proposed program cuts. 

As if our “ask” to be able to pay our rents on time, to be able to afford groceries, to be able to grow our families, to be able to have reasonable health insurance would only ever happen if Art, Dance, SPED, Nurse Services, or Counseling were decreased. As if teachers are not asked enough from this district, we now are asked to accept that our need to survive in the Bay Area is equivalent to these cuts. 

The perceived burden of intellectual and creative thinking put on us as educators to solve this problem should not come as a shock; this is a national practice that has often resulted in total depletion of art programs, literacy programs, and continued loss of student enrollment. How can a district that sees so fully the need to recruit new families, and keep established families in Piedmont, think that cutting enriched programs such as VAPA and Counseling would raise higher interest in our district?  

I know that we teachers want to help find creative solutions to these large problems, but many of the budget workshops have been during school hours, when we are not able to attend. Have any board members reached out to us personally? Has Dr. Hawn come to PHS since the Fall? I would like to see an increase in effort to reach out and find time to work with more interested parties, and see firsthand the work already being done. The students see your priorities and they are watching.

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *