This I Believe

Kathleen - Sandy Hook, Connecticut
Entered on May 30, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

“I believe it will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber,” is what the poster on the wall of my mother’s classroom read. The principal warned her that if anyone complained, it was to come down immediately.

It seems like every year it takes more votes for my town’s budget to pass. Meanwhile, I’m reading from a 30 year old history text, my Spanish book is sans front and back covers, and we are running out of easy solutions to overcrowding. Four new classrooms won’t seat an incoming freshman class of nearly 500.

But the students aren’t the only ones lacking.

My mother has raised four children as a single-parent on a teacher’s salary. Don’t get me wrong, there has always been clothing on our backs, food on our table, and a roof over our heads, but sometimes those necessities came with the sacrifice of something less vital. Some days we went to school dirty because our hot water had been shut off. Some nights we did our homework in the dark because of unpaid electricity bills. Most often, my mother was unable to call the water or electric companies to inform them that checks were on the way because the phone company had done away with our phone connection until we were able to pay that bill, as well.

We were probably living in luxury compared to other single-parent families on teachers’ salaries. My mother did not have to worry about paying rent or mortgage because the church where my father used to preach provided our home free of charge. We were lucky when it came to meals and clothing, as well. That was paid for, almost in full, with monthly social security checks.

So why is it that my mother exhausted herself everyday in order to provide us with the basics? Why is it that teachers devote their lives to molding children into the kind of adults that will ultimately earn a great deal more than themselves? And why are they doing so on such a small budget?

Schools and teachers continue to scrape by as they shape the great minds of the next generation. I guess we’re just more interested in shaping the next generation of soldiers.