Fall River, MA
I love my work as a public high school English teacher in Fall River, a deindustrialized mill town on the southeastern coast. My students are brilliant, sly, sweet and resilient.
I know this not from the results of a standardized test but through deep, authentic learning. We work our butts off together as they prepare for college, careers, and citizenship.
Every two weeks, I cart home a heavy box full of notebooks. These books are filled with stories and observations written by my students as they grapple with the complexities of their young lives, working through, among other things: an addicted mother who yells too much; the sweat and tears that flowed while working behind a fast-food counter; the beauty of a first same-sex kiss.
My students deserve so much more in terms of resources compared to what we are able to provide them. In fact, last year, I had to pour myself into my union local’s campaign to beat back budget cuts. At my high school, the district ended up cutting some of my colleagues and a program run in collaboration with the local community college for students at risk of dropping out.
This budget crisis grew in part out of insufficient state funding for public education.
The Fair Share Amendment promises a necessary infusion of state money into Massachusetts public schools, and stands to help cash-poor cities such as Fall River that barely meet the legally required minimum level of education funding.
I have seen how rising costs for health care and special education have taken resources out of academic and extracurricular programs, and this is not acceptable. I have seen the social and emotional needs of my students go unmet because we do not have enough social workers and therapists available. This, too, is not acceptable.
Fall River students, families, and teachers need the Fair Share Amendment in order to have the public schools we all deserve.