by Cheryl Suliteanu
American Reporter Reader
Jan. 9, 2003
MAMA SHAQ'S $65,000 DRESS
CARLSBAD, Calif., Jan. 8, 2003 -- I make a difference in the lives of children. I teach kindergarten, for most children the first experience of school. I build the foundation for all future learning my students will experience. Everyday I get at least twenty hugs from little people who depend on me to provide a safe, caring, and stimulating environment for them to learn to read, to count, and to be a caring, compassionate person. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a child, and knowing that my students love me and can't wait to come to school everyday to be with me, to sing with me, to talk to me, and to play with me is a dream come true.
I have a Master's Degree in Education, and I am a National Board Certified Teacher. So what does it say to you that I am considering leaving the teaching profession?
What it says to me is that not enough people in positions to make a difference in children's lives are supporting me, and education in general. Right now, our government is making budget cuts that are going to result in the loss of vital support programs, which will negatively impact student achievement. Contrary to any and all research in best practices, some school districts are raising class sizes and cutting support programs. The accountability of teachers and student achievement is at its highest level ever, but the support to meet the high standards is being withdrawn. So what does it say to you that in this week's People magazine, Shaquile O'Neal's bride is shown wearing a $65,000 wedding dress?
If one person, who can afford to wear a $65,000 wedding dress (which is more than my annual salary), donated 1 percent of the cost of her dress to one school district, that money could be used to improve student achievement. We have professional football, baseball, and basketball players who make enough money to support all the school districts in the entire state, not just San Diego county, by giving us only a fraction of their annual salary. Why does our society think that people who play their favorite sport for a living should live in such extravagance while our children's education, their whole future, is being jeopardized due to budget cuts? Not to mention the plethora of teachers in their first and second years of teaching who will be the first to be laid off - what about their families they support? Their children who need to be taken care of?
Is our society so short-sited that cutting money for education is a priority while our professional ball-players get paid millions of dollars a year? When are those people with excessive amounts of money going to share it with children who are the future of our world? My students need that money to be here, in the classroom, where it belongs. They need it now, not tomorrow, not next year, but today.