I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.
Of course I had my childhood dalliances with the idea of being an astronaut or a cowboy, but once I had to seriously start considering my career, I knew teaching was for me. I wanted to help people the same way that I had been helped by so many of my teachers. I’m proud to say that this will be my fifth year in this wonderful career, and my third in the Battle Ground School District.
I knew going into this career that I would not be making a lot of money, and I accepted that. What I was not prepared for was the sacrifices I would need to make. Teachers are expected to sacrifice things daily. We sacrifice our time when we plan lessons and grade work over the weekend. We sacrifice money out of our own pockets when we buy materials for our classrooms that the district doesn’t provide. We sacrifice small pieces of ourselves every time we help a student with a tough background, and we know there is a chance there may not be dinner at home when the day is done.
Teachers have been conditioned to accept these sacrifices as part of the job, and I’ve seen several teachers leave the profession because the sacrifices expected were too great. On top of that, plenty of newer teachers such as myself are facing the reality of egregious student debt and high housing costs.
What I’d really like to address is some of the public opinion regarding this strike. There is no teacher striking now who would not rather be in their classroom with their students. We chose to dedicate our lives to the career of teaching, and it’s what we’re most passionate about. Being out of our classrooms brings us no joy at all. I mention this because when a group dedicated to their profession so completely decides to strike, it is worth listening to what they have to say. What it comes down to is this: the state of Washington sent more money to the school district, which was earmarked specifically for teacher salaries. As of this writing, the district is refusing to give that allotted amount to teacher salaries.
We love teaching. We want nothing more than to be back in our classrooms. But this sacrifice is too much to expect of teachers. We cannot let ourselves be taken advantage of like this, as it would set a dangerous precedent. We are incredibly thankful for the community support, and if you find yourself skeptical about what we’re doing, I encourage you to speak to a teacher. Don’t simply go by what you may have heard secondhand or on social media. You may be surprised at what you learn.
Our job is to support the children of this community, but we can only do that when we are supported by the community itself.