Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This is a teacher

This is a story about a teacher, one of 5045 educators that received a layoff notice from the LAUSD. I wish I could write about the other 5044, too, but I'll be busy telling my elected officials what a horrible decision they've made in a series of angry letters I'm planning to write. With lots of exclamation points. And swear words.

Last Saturday Kira was auditioning for a competition put on the by the local Rotary Club. The auditions happened to be taking place at her high school, and while we were waiting for her turn I sat outside and talked to her choir teacher, Mr. Sacks, who was there to play the piano accompaniment for one of Kira's classmates who was also auditioning. What else did this teacher do on a Saturday? Picked up all of the costumes from the dry cleaners that the kids used in their last performance (a fantastic Moulin Rouge, I might add) and delivered them back to the studio that lent them to the school. Then no doubt he spent most of the rest of the weekend preparing for the kids' next big show. (Luckily he didn't ask about my plans for the weekend, a carefully laid-out schedule of naps and coffee breaks.)

While we were talking, I asked him about Moulin Rouge, because it was the first time it was ever performed on stage and I knew that he had done the arranging himself. He told me a crazy story about what he went through trying to get the rights to use the sheet music from the movie and after he jumped through a bunch of hoops they still turned him down. So, he said matter-of-factly, he put on a pair of headphones, sat down at the piano and re-wrote all of the music himself, working eight hours a day all the way through every day of winter break, even on Christmas day. And his birthday. (Are you listening, school board members?)

(Seriously, I was so enthralled by his story I forgot to wish Kira good luck when she went in, but she seemed almost grateful to escape my usual hug and awkward fist-bump.)

Mr. Sacks is the reason Kira is going to the school she's attending, the reason we make the forty-minute drive every morning into Hollywood. The school was one of the last ones we had toured after an exhaustive few weeks of checking out every performing arts campus in the city. Kira had a mediocre response to all of them up to that point, and just as Rigel and I were about to pull out the, 'It's our choice, not yours, young lady' card, we were invited to a series of workshops at the school. We sat in on one of Mr. Sacks' classes and the rapport that he has with the kids is so evident, and by the end of a rousing rendition of "Aint No Mountain High Enough", Kira was convinced. She turned to me and said, "I love this place. THIS IS IT." She's was ecstatic that she had found a home, and I was happy we didn't have to tour those other schools left on our list.

And here's where I shake my fist at those who have decided to cut funding to education – Mr. Sacks is one of the teachers that has gotten a layoff notice from the school district. I'm sure I speak for a lot of the kids and the parents when I say that the department and the school will suffer greatly if he leaves. Kira is dreading the thought of him not being around, and she and her classmates are wondering what will become of their musical education there without him at the helm. Have you ever witnessed the rare phenomenon of a child actually wanting to go to school? I have, and it's usually on days she knows she has an after-school rehearsal.

There are many teachers that have gotten layoff notices in the past few weeks and this is just one story. I wish the people making these insane decisions could get to know every one of the teachers they're planning on letting go. More importantly, I wish they could hear the stories of every one of the kids whose lives these teachers have touched, and hear about the negative impact these layoffs will have on them.

If you have a story to tell about a teacher, please send me a link and I'll post it here. I'd love to send it to our elected officials so they could put some faces to even a few of those 5045 pink slips.

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10 comments:

Mom101 said...

Raising a fist in solidarity for Mr. Sacks, and good teachers everywhere who are bearing the brunt of these horrendous political decisions.

How about we cut back a few corporate subsidies and preserve all the good things that work about public education.

Gah.

Thanks for speaking up Marsha. We need you.

sweatpantsmom said...

Thanks, Liz. Things are looking dismal here. Wondering if our reps are going to grow spines in time to turn things around.

Gah is right.

Shelly said...

Yes, because firing teachers is the way to solve our education woes.

I'm with you and Liz - GAH. Where do we go from here?

LimitlessLiving said...

Unbelievable!!! and yet sadly believable at the same time. No wonder the world is going to hell in a hand cart.

Lin said...

This is sickening, Marsha, and beautifully written. It's not just I who can make you cry...or is it me who can make you cry...I'm forwarding this to a pink-slipped friend at Topanga Elementary.

xoxo

Justine said...

Great post Marsha, and such a tragedy. Kira must be devastated too..

Jess Riley said...

Heartbreaking...and maddening! I work in public education and could go on & on about this. Kudos to you for this post.

best price twin outlast blanket said...

Well I just want to say that your story is very good and interesting I really enjoyed to read this.
Thank you for sharing with us.

planetnomad said...

we're preparing for the future all right! who needs education?

SIGH. Stuff like this makes me so mad. Our priorities, as a society, just seem so messed up.

travel for women said...

By the way I also didn't know about "Moulin Rouge" but now i know. Your Post is Informatics as well as Interesting.:)
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