California Superintendent Larry Powell gets it, but it’s very sad he has to.

Every time you turn on the news you hear about how some other school district is in trouble. Can’t pay teachers can’t buy books, it seems like schools are black holes when it comes to money. California Superintendent Larry Powell is trying to stop that.Powell has decided to donate the majority of his salary and benefits back to the school district in order to keep it running at the same level it has been. In the end he will be making 31,000 a year which is less than a starting teacher in the district with no benefits. On one hand it’s beyond commendable that someone in this day and age can care so much they’re willing to sacrifice their own well being to help out others. It is a true rarity to find someone so willing to give and give. Personally I can think of a few officials who should be taking a page out of Mr. Powell’s book and actually work towards the salary they are given. So many politicians talk about educators being compensated based on performance when they should be as well. If you’re not working you shouldn’t get paid.

Coupled with my profund respect for the sacrifice Mr. Powell is making, I am also deeply saddened that our education system in this country has falled to the point where the employees are the ones forced to foot the bills.As a former public school teacher I can’t even begin to imagine how much money I personally spent in order to keep my choral program going. One year the band director “accidentally” spend the music budget. How else was I supposed to buy music and repair the piano? The next year there was no money for dresses for the female singers in my select choir. Fund raising was generally “frowned upon” and by the time I had that set up the concert would have come and gone. Did I mind paying for it? Absolutely not, it was more important for my students to have a good experience than for me to not eat raman noodles for dinner for a few years. And I am certainly not alone in this. There is no teacher I know that doesn’t shell out their own money for supplies simply because that money does not exist. Now with the economy as it is once again teachers will be made as a form of a scapegoat. “Well you get a huge summer vacation!” is the usual complaint. Yes we get that time off, but WE DON’T GET PAID FOR IT!!! How do you think summer vacation spots get employees. Most of them are teachers.

Why does the education system always seem to be the first thing to go when it comes to budgets? Moreover why does there seem to be very little interest in seeing where the money the schools do get goes? Why are we not funneling money into the school budgets instead of administrative salaries? How much money do we waste on technology for technology’s sake?

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