Those old fat cats in Salem are feeling the heat and maybe a little burn. Last week, Gov. Ted Kulongoski announced that teachers need to work for free if schools are to stay open. He offered to lead the way, volunteering to work for four days for free (note, his salary is around $98,000 per year while the average teacher's salary is around $40,000). Meanwhile, if "rainy day funds" aren't tapped into, districts are looking at closing school for 4-20 days, depending on final budget assessments, union demands (such as closing schools in a manner that makes us teachers eligible for unemployment), and the needs of the particular district.

But now, the legislators are working to spend some of the nearly $400 million set aside in a "stability fund" for education, though Kulongoski said he will veto any plan that spends that now. "He insists it be saved to weather darker economic times in 2010 and 2011," says The Oregonian.

Last week's rally and now some legislatures are saying no to closing schools early and breaking teachers' contracts. Tapping into these funds now would potentially cut the aprox. $17 million that my district needs to cut by JUNE to only $4 million.

Of course, when it comes to money, I'm as dumb as they come. So maybe it's hopeful naivete on my part, and I've seen enough to know the answer to this question, but I'll throw it out there anyway: Can things really get worse than finding out you have three months to save $17 million and may need to close down your school in one of the best districts in one of the most progressive states in the country?

I hope not, not just for the sake of my own bank account, job security, etc. and not for the students being short changed on their education, but for what that means for my friends out there who are already eating shit because of this economy: inability to find jobs, inability to get promoted to better jobs, not getting enough hours to make do. It sucks.



What is a rumor?

A story that is spread orally, akin to gossip, a cousin of a lie. A rumor has a life of its own, it grows new appendages and personality traits with each new telling. But aren't rumors sometimes based in truth? Aren't rumors sometimes, occasionally, fairly accurate?

Not according to our school principal. According to him, a rumor is a narrative that lacks any basis for discussion. When a teacher asked today if it was possible that 20 days could be cut from the end of the school year, his response was, "That is a RUMOR. Nothing will be decided until after Feb. 20th, and all decisions will be made by the board."

One might wonder why he didn't address the possible validity of this rumor: that yes or no, there is or isn't a chance that the school board will buy teachers out of their contracts for a fraction of the pay and will or will not end school 20 days early. Sounds like evasiveness rather than being up-front, which is his supposed goal. If he really wants to be honest, he could address all of the rumors, discussing which ones may happen and which ones won't and which ones truly are just fictions.



Today, my department chair came into my classroom, sat down, and rapped with me for a while about lesson plans, books, job security; we briefly mentioned the economy and the massive budget cuts our school district is facing: $17 million.

He said, "The Chinese have a saying: 'May you live in interesting times.' I think that we're living in interesting times."

Turns out, that Chinese saying is actually a curse. It's the first of three:
May you live in interesting times.
May you come to the attention of those in authority.
May you find what you are looking for.

That's what I want this blog to be about: interesting times in the recession, in the days of President Obama, in the world of education. My classes are already close to 35 students in 10th and 12th grade lit. classes, and yet, I face a hiring freeze. Several teachers are going on maternity leave, not to be replaced, and my position, as a temporary teacher, will probably be cut. With a moment of joy and then a catch of breath, my new dream job could be gone.

May we live in interesting times.