Living with cuts, a group of teachers works to connect

Now that school is back in session, Wisconsin educators are again focused tightly on the kids in their classrooms. But being back amid the chalk dust has made the state’s cuts to schools even more real for teachers, administrators, parents and students.

So, a group of teachers in the Monona Grove School District, south of Madison, is working to get colleagues across the state together.

“We need to figure out ways to get teachers around the state better connected and communicating,” says Monona Grove High School teacher Kelly Sullivan. “Especially in terms of how we can support one another.”

One of the ideas that came to Sullivan and her fellow educators was to encourage teachers to send postcards to state legislators explaining how the state budget is specifically affecting their classrooms.

“A group of teachers started discussing it at lunch one day,” writes Sullivan in an email.

“We’re hoping that we can talk to other teachers around the state  to get more teachers on board. Most of the members of my staff understand the big picture is the destruction of public education and we’re the only thing standing in the way, so we need to make sure people know what’s really happening in schools.”

So, the teachers are contacting other teachers, including via email, to ask them to take part.

“We hope to once a week get together and send out postcards with notes briefly explaining how our classrooms are impacted,” says Sullivan, who notes that the $2.2 million in cuts equals about 40 of the district’s roughly 250 teachers.

“Each department in our school is making lists this week of the way the budget has impacted our schools, which will help us. We’re also working in trying to connect parents to begin helping us.”

A message seeking support notes that teachers in the classroom can see better than almost anyone how the cuts manifest themselves on a daily basis. They’re hoping to communicate what they see to get wider support from parents and the community.

“We teachers play an important part because parents don’t live with the situation every day (in the classroom),” reads the message. “They really don’t know how this affects the activities and learning experiences their children have unless we document for them.

“We need to say something, and hopefully, school boards and community members will be just as concerned.”

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