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    Posted March 2, 2013 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Teachers: Worried about forced spending cuts?

    Putting Children First Is Priceless


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     LearnIt is a teacher in Ohio, and she says for months she has seen a loss of morale amongst her colleagues. Forced spending cuts for her means more budget cuts directly impacting the classroom. She says her kindergarten class has already doubled in size because of previous spending cuts, and last year she spent more than one thousand dollars on school supplies for her students, not including the additional clothes and food she purchased for some of her students who are facing financial hardships. She says one of her biggest fears besides being replaced by a younger teacher who is willing to work for less is the affects forced spending cuts will have on schools and children, 'and the crucial support needed for my students to not only survive, but thrive,' she said.
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    I have taught kindergarten for 17 years. For all of those years I have dipped into my savings to pay for classroom supplies, winter coats for cold students, snacks for hungry students, even dental and vision care for some of my students. I have not had a cost of living increase or any kind of raise for the last 4 years although I did just put myself through school to get my master's degree in order to stay employed during the last round of lay offs. I have seen my health insurance costs increase four times in the last two years. Despite what many believe, I don't have my summers off. My district and the state teacher's licensure system require me to take coursework and attend professional development meetings during most of the summer. After working at school for eight hours I prepare lesson plans, reply to parent emails, study the new CORE standards and create positive incentive notes and activities for my students for at least 2 additional hours each evening. You can find me in my classroom most Sunday afternoons setting up centers, making copies of the next week's test packets (yuck!) and learning about how to put the newest technology into the hands of the youngest learners.
    So why do I continue to teach? It isn't the money or long vacations. It's simple: I believe that I am making a positive difference in the lives of my students. I KNOW my students are making me a better person. I am blessed to have the opportunity to witness the incredible learning that goes on as young children just begin to open the door to all that awaits them when given the gift of knowledge. I care deeply for each and every child that enters my classroom and I celebrate their accomplishments. Yet, I fear that the time is coming for me to find another profession. The legislatures who make laws regarding education don't know the challenges students and teachers face. New teacher evaluations and tying test scores to teacher pay make it almost impossible for meaningful instruction to happen. Our elected officials just see dollar signs and test results. Those of us that became teachers to help children realize their full potential as learners are not just frustrated, we are heartbroken. In my heart I will always be a teacher, but will I always be able to follow my heart?
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