Well, it has been an interesting few weeks around here. Actually, I don't think interesting is the right word. I'm not sure what the right word is for how I feel. I don't want to say "difficult". As far as day-to-day affairs we've been doing pretty well. We're both healthy, Brandon survived his recital, my students seem to be learning, and we only have 4 more days until Spring Break. Emotionally though, I feel like we're teetering on the edge of a scary unknown and a lot of it has to do with the budget crisis our state is currently in.
This seems strange for me to write about, because I don't normally speak up about politics or budgets or the like. I'm a responsible citizen - I educate myself on issues and I vote (when I can), but having a conversation about those things does not appeal to me in the least. In fact, I have written and rewritten this post over and over this last week, because this is such a hard topic. Unfortunately, this budget crisis is beginning to hit home. It's personal, and to say it has shaken me is an understatement - I really need to get this off my chest. Feel free to take this as your warning and read no further (I can't say that I would blame you!).
Just in the last week I have had three good friends who have been told they will no longer be teaching music or, in one case, will not even have a job with her district after this school year. (FYI - these are excellent, hard working, caring, loving, experienced and successful teachers!) And there are many many more teachers across this state (and country!) in similar situations. Add to that the constant bickering and, as one friend put it, "villifying" of teachers that is going on in the media. I've literally been sick to my stomach for a good week (and no, I'm not preggo)!
Even my own district is looking at some very serious and very scary cuts between now and the official last day to give contracts/notices (April 18 for certified teachers in McKinney). Somehow Fine Arts is miraculously not on the list of departments that are being looked at for reduction and/or elimination. I don't know how we dodged that bullet when so many others did not. Unfortunately, my "specials" team (myself, our sweet art teacher, our amazing and award-winning P.E. coach, and her wonderful assistant) will still be majorly impacted this year. Fine Arts is not on the list, but our elementary P.E. programs are (plus our library aide, other aide positions, and our school nurse)! It scares me to think of who will or will not be back after this year. To top it off, it seems to be common knowledge that this is not even the worst of the budget crisis. They are predicting that the budget cuts this time next year will be even more drastic! Yikes!!
So, where does this leave the Stewarts' Little Family? Well, for now we are saddened and sickened by the losses and changes our friends are dealing with. We are trying to be proactive and planning, both financially and career-wise, for the possibility of me needing to find a new job after the 2011-2012 school year. And we are prayerfully trusting that somehow this is all in God's bigger plan. We don't know what will happen, and the unknown is a scary place to be. My biggest prayer for now (aside for comfort and guidance for my friends who are facing this sudden career/life change) is that when and if the time comes for me, I will handle it with grace, faith, and hope. I want to say, like Heather Williams, "On my knees here I fall in spite of it all, Hallelujah! And though it seems hard, I'm still trusting you Lord. Hallelujah!"