“I’d like to introduce Mrs. Smith–but you need to know she will probably be cut due to the school merger.”
“I’d like to introduce Mr. Brown–but you need to know he will probably be cut due to the school merger.”
“I’d like to introduce Mrs. Paul–but you need to know she will probably be cut due to the school merger.”
That’s how Open House went a few days ago when my family visited the public middle school my son will be attending next school year. With hundreds of incoming sixth graders and their parents gathered in the school cafeteria, the principal introduced the sixth grade teachers. And three of those introduced were on the cutting block because of financial cuts mandated by the school merger (names have been changed). One of the cuts meant the elimination of an entire program at the school, since the teacher being cut was the only teacher running that program. With each announcement there was an audible gasp from the parents. Teachers were teary-eyed at the sight of their colleagues whom they wouldn’t see next school year.
Surely we can do better than this.
I know it’s a complex issue. I know there are things I don’t know. But I do know this: we can do better than this.
A principal shouldn’t have to welcome incoming students and parents with news of three cuts. Soon-to-be sixth graders shouldn’t have to get by with an already-strained faculty now stretched thinner. Popular and skilled teachers shouldn’t be dismissed because the political climate has created a financial crisis for the schools.
I’m not sure who’s benefiting from the merger. But it’s none of the hundreds of kids in that Open House that night.