That's what some people are saying. We are a dying district. I don't buy it.
Are we depressed? Definitely.
But as I pack up my office and book rooms, preparing for the move that will turn us from a district of 4 schools into a district of 2, I refuse to believe we are dying.
Although we will cram 6th through 8th grade into the second floor of our high school; although we will leave behind our colleagues in the 5th grade; although we say goodbye to (and do not replace) 9 teachers taking a retirement incentive; we continue to look for the things about this that will benefit kids.
Our middle school staff is a vibrant and creative one. Just 10 years ago we were 35 members strong. We become a staff of 14 next year. To an extent we feel beaten. We feel worn down. We feel grateful to have jobs in the economy of our state. And it makes me angry at the legislators who seem to be rooting for our death. Who want to turn public education into a business. Who want to turn our wonderful, complex, exasperating, and exhilarating students into numbers, test scores.
But our kids aren't numbers. They aren't products. And our teachers don't see themselves as assembly workers, punching cut-out kids, boxing them up, and forgetting about them once they leave us. Our teachers are committed to the same job we've always been about: creating learners, questioners, dreamers who will take on the world to make it a better place.
And we may have to close our doors one day, as the state continues to cut funding and to support unfair, inequitable funding practices. They seem to fail to see that education is THE way to turn around the sad economic affairs in our state. But until that day, we will live, teach, and learn joyfully.