Dear Mr. President,

I have received your daily emails and phone calls – please take me off your lists.

I gave you some money in May, even though I didn’t want to – your phone volunteers are very persuasive!

I voted for you in 2008, and I will again in November.

What choice do I have? The alternative isn’t better, and probably worse overall. Though, I will vote for you reluctantly as I know your policies, and those of your Secretary of Education, like those of your predecessor, are destroying the profession I love and harming the students I teach.

I will instead be using my “$14 or more” to help fight childhood poverty. I will give one of my students a grocery gift card. I wish I had enough money to provide each of my students a healthy dinner at home with their families.

i will do this instead of donating to your campaign as you and many in the Democratic party will not acknowledge the devastating effects of poverty on children’s lives, and then blame teachers and schools.

Our schools need to improve, incompetent teachers need to be fired – as it is in EVERY other profession (including corporations and the financial industry – how is accountability working out there?)

But do not destroy public education because you will not tackle the real problems that face communities – violence, hunger, illness, homelessness…and hopelessness.

I know dealing with these issues is not as easy as a test score, and carrots and sticks. It would probably cost more money. Making education about winners and losers does not have a home in my classroom, and it is not good for our schools.

If our school had a library full of books (or digital readers), access to a full and holistic core curriculum, ability to enjoy art and PE every day, had adequate health care (and didn’t have to miss school for the free clinic), had a clean (and warm) place to live, were able to have a healthy meal, and were able to go home not worrying about having their basic needs met…it would go a long way toward improving student academic performance.

I had “hope,” I believed in “change,” now I’m a pragmatist when dealing with my elected political leaders.

It’s a Sunday night. I’ll go back to grading papers, giving my students formative feedback, and preparing lessons for tomorrow… trying to find one of my students a place to live in since she and her daughter were kicked out of a low income apartment (her income is too high now because of a new job), and secure childcare for another student so he can access an after school arts program. I will be organizing volunteers for a faith based organization trying to solve the issue of homelessness in our community, and will need to figure out which day I can volunteer for our Optimist club’s Christmas tree lot – all proceeds going back to our youth organizations.

I teach at an alternative school that keeps at-risk students and teen parents from dropping out. I see the effect of poverty each day. It’s tough for a teen mom who has been up all night with her own child to perform well on a one-time assessment, let alone graduate on time with the skills necessary to be successful.

As a parent, I am appalled by the 8 days of testing my 6 year old son will endure this year. I have excused him of all testing and data collection that does nothing but line the pockets of Pearson and ETS – The same folks who will be making a LOT of money off of the new Common Core Standards and ancillary products that will be peddled to our schools. Yes, I’ll sign him out of the new Common Core testing too.

If you’d like to talk some time, ring me up. I have many stories to share and ideas about how things could change for the better. Though, teachers are never asked what they think. Politicians and corporate donors get the most airtime – even though most of them have never spent a day in a classroom. I suppose it is because they have deep pockets. Money “talks” right?

Maybe if I had donated 10K or 100K to your Super PAC I could meet you and share my ideas. Perhaps if I started a non-profit that solicits money from corporate donors, then works to privatize schools you would listen to me. But I don’t have the money, and my ethics keep me from using public schools for profit…

Please consider the professional experience of your teachers in the trenches. It’s hard work helping our students achieve their dreams. We are willing to do it even after the bell rings at the end of the day. We teach because we believe in our students, our schools, and America.

I’ll be expecting the requisite form letter…so thank you in advance for listening.

Your constituent,