My kid is not in school today.
No, she's not sick (actually, she's finally over the most recent cold...)
No, its not another blizzard (actually, our yard is melting apace...)
My kid is not in school today because the district canceled all classes due to staff shortages. Teachers are protesting.
They are upset.
The new governor plans to cut collective bargaining rights of state workers to help correct budget shortfalls.
In an automated phone message on my voice mail this morning, the school district superintendent stated his apologies for inconveniencing our families with the closure.
I wanted to call him back.
I wanted to tell him I don't mind.
I wanted to tell him I hope my child's teacher is protesting today. I hope she is standing up for her benefits. And I hope her voice is loud.
Because her voice is the one my child hears all day. Her voice is the one my child trusts. Her voice is the one we should value and reward.
We were standing at the bus stop when Girl-one startled me: Mama, I think I'm being bullied.
She quickly told me about some teasing words. How sad she felt. I quickly explained that these were hurtful words, but not really bullying. We could talk about it more after school.
I emailed Mrs. K to let her know how Girl-one was feeling. What actually happened. Bullying is red-hot word and I didn't want the teacher to think something larger was going on.
She didn't respond right away. I figured she was busy.
The next day, I received a very long email from Mrs. K. She talked about how this issue always hurts her heart. How she wishes sweet, sensitive Girl-one did not have to hear such words. How she thinks about her students as her children and has zero tolerance for teasing in the classroom.
She told me that in class on Friday, she read a book and sang a song with the children about teasing. They talked about words that hurt and trying to ignore teasing. They talked about why a child might tease another child. They talked about real situations. Mrs. K told them about a time she was teased and how she handled it. She made sure they understood they could always talk to her about teasing and about their feelings.
All of this was in response to my email. In response to my child.
The email came at 10pm on a Friday night. On Mrs K's own time. After she had put her own three children to bed.
I've always worried that sending my sensitive girl to school was the same as throwing her to the wolves. But knowing that she is under Mrs. K's kind, expansive wing reassures me. Girl-one is safe. She spends her days with a gifted and generous heart.
I want to give Mrs. K an award. For this. For everything.
But my state is planning to reduce her benefits. I don't care if she has access to a pension and I don't. I don't care if she pays less into her benefits than I do. I don't care if we have a budget deficit. There has to be another solution. Taking something away from teachers doesn't say we value you. Taking something away from teachers does nothing to invest in our children. In our future.
I usually stay out of political discussions. I am usually the political apathetic.
But when I think about this issue, this protest, all I can see is people. Families. Mrs. K.
They're afraid of changes in their financial security. They're upset about what's being taken away. They're worried.
I'm worried, too.
This just isn't right.