by Cesar Aguirre
Now-a-days a teacher’s job is tougher than ever. Between preparing students for new tests, new standards and the so called accountability of “high stakes” testing, larger classes and fewer resources for struggling students, funding cuts at the state level and the day to day struggle of making sure their students have everything they need, (many times paying for materials and basic needs like paper towels and tissue out of their own pocket, which probably contains more money that jingles than folds considering their meager salaries) one might wonder why anyone would choose this profession.
I believe the reasons are based in love and passion. Love for teaching, for our youth, our future and a democratic society. A passion for opening minds and creating critical thinkers to make our world a better place. I don’t think teachers go into education thinking, I hope one day my students create the next atomic bomb. Instead, it’s probably more along the lines of, I hope one day my students are able to prevent another world war and spread world peace. It’s the same love and passion that drive teachers like Jessica Mejia, a Culturally Relevant Curriculum (CRC) History teacher at Pueblo High School.
As if Jessica didn’t have enough on her plate our state’s bullies are at it again, attacking the Tucson Unified School District and the CRC. Jessica teaches history from a Mexican-American perspective. Though the state has not yet deemed the classes illegal like they did in 2011, which led to the dismantling of the extremely successful program in 2012 which was helping to close the achievement gap between Mexican-American and Anglo students, they are watching it closely.
Not only has the state dropped in to check on the CRC classes, they are also requiring the teachers of the classes to submit all curriculum, lesson plans, and assignments for the school year. Jessica spent 15 hours working during spring break in order to comply with the state’s demands. She has even had to have a substitute fill in for her in class so that she can submit the material on time. You can read more at (https://www.azpm.org/p/top-news/2015/4/1/60350-states-required-monitoring-of-ethnic-studies-puts-stress-on-tusd-teacher/). It is criminal that our state leaders demand so much from our teachers without funding and supporting them in their work.
I think today more than ever teachers are undervalued and definitely underpaid. We as parents must get involved, support our public schools and teachers, and fight for a better educational system. This is the only way to give teachers what they deserve while creating a better world for our kids. Meanwhile the educational revolution begins to build momentum I would like to recognize and thank all our hard working teachers across the district that go above and beyond to insure our children are getting the education they deserve. Thank you for all the little things you do that many times go unnoticed. You are not alone, we’ve got your back!