Under our new superintendent, part of our new vision is to make Lake County Public Schools a destination district.
That sounds great in theory, but in practice, it is an uphill climb.
We’ve had a series of superintendents & board members make poor decisions financially. This, coupled with a statehouse that has no idea what it means to write legislation that actually supports teachers has made teaching in Florida a weighty task, to be sure.
Florida is a right to work state and there is just not the type of momentum here that you see in other right to work states.
Our union is trying, but frankly, I think most teachers here just see the same battles being fought with each new grouping of leadership that they are not taking time off of their second and third jobs to come to a board meeting and fuss about things the board should already be working on.
Yesterday’s board meeting was different.
Last week was teacher appreciation week.
Our superintendent’s message was as follows:
“May the week ahead be filled with the gratitude you deserve and the hope that you inspire. Thanks for all you do.”
Each of the subsequent days we were treated to a witty poem that offered us something.
Day 1’s offering was sweet tea in the cafeteria for free. (We’ve been paying per cup for years.)
Day 2’s submission was the new ’employee spotlight’. The social media platforms will be highlighting teachers routinely now.
Day 3’s gift was three days of free after-school care. (Keep in mind, you’d still have to do the application process which is $24. So it’s almost a wash.)
Day 4’s token was that the high school game admission price will be waived for all Lake County Employees from now on. If you are a teacher with multiple jobs, were you going to those games anyway?
Day 5’s gift was getting to leave early on the last day…BUUUUUUT…we were also introduced to the fact that we have to complete active shooter training. So…our free half day is actually reserved for that.
Folks, we are not a destination district.
You can not pay a mortgage on free sweet tea.
If we are mandated to come to five after-school events a year….for free…and you only offer teachers with kids three days of child care, you are taking from what we already don’t have.
If Lake County is going to be a destination district, it’s not going to be by expecting everything and giving us next to nothing.
You can’t pay rookie teachers MORE than you pay teachers with years and YEARS of experience.
How about some training on working with students experiencing trauma?
How about some training on reducing inequity and combating bias in our schools?
How about not asking us to work for free before and after school?
How about reducing the amount of testing?
How about actually working on a contract with our union reps who are really trying to be our voice?
I know there are some things that are out of the school board’s control, but at a certain point, does it even matter any more?
Langston Hughes’ poem Democracy is one of my favorites.
His line ‘I do not need my freedom when I’m dead, I can not live on tomorrow’s bread’ is appropriate here.
We have lived on promises for far too long.
When you finally do throw us a few pennies, pray that the best and the brightest are still here to receive them.