The latest missive from second-grade teacher Angie Sullivan, who works in the underfunded public schools of Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas) and teaches children who are mostly poor and ELL.

 

Listen to teachers. This is why the Southern Caucus needs to work together instead of bicker about politics.

 

Yesterday I got my computer printer fixed – sort of. There is a band inside that is stretched and broken. So the paper bunches up and jams. We have a new computer specialist from the private sector who told me he was going to try to get me a new printer. Like I said – he is new. There is a reason I have the world’s oldest printer in the first place. He reported to me that he was going to try to find an illusive printer in a closet someone heard of one time because my printer is officially too expensive to repair.

 

Why is my printer important?

 

I have no access to actual reading or math workbooks. I have six reading workbooks and 10 math workbooks. This is not helpful when I have 17 kids. I can go on-line and print a class set of the pages I need if my printer works.

 

I can go to the computer lab which is way across campus if it is not being used. Unfortunately it is stuffed most of the day with a tight schedule because all our equipment is older and kids are mandated to do a certain amount of time on the computers to meet grant requirements etc. All the students are crammed in there on every computer that is working with our antiquated wifi trying to meet requirements.

 

I can copy the workbook pages on the copier if that is working. But you guessed it – the copier is worn out because all the teachers are making their own materials. I’m not the only one without supplies. The one copier has something wrong in its memory and the pages go sideways in the middle of the copy run cutting off the important information. The other copier jams. And the two “extras” are older copiers which everyone tries to avoid using because they are worse than the two other ones I have described. The copiers make all teachers crazy.

 

My routine is to buy a case of paper from Costco with my own $27. Drive to the school on Sunday – using my own time off-contract to work on making materials. I can go to the empty computer lab to run my pages. Sometimes the copiers work better on the weekend because the machines have cooled off enough to operate. Sometimes.

 

I spend my own money and my own time to get the basics for my kids. And I’m not alone. Most every great educator in Vegas is probably doing the same.

 

I do this because I’m trying to give my students the basics – a reading workbook page and a math workbook page.

 

Then as a hobby and for free – I lobby for my at-risk language learning students in the middle of the night. Frankly, no one else cares enough to spend the time I do to try to bring a voice from the classroom to people in power. I tell the truth because you need to know. I tell the truth because I love my kids.

 

When I read about the political posturing over vouchers, achievement school district, funding etc. These games are political meat but terrible for progress.

 

I get furious.

 

Listen up crazytown. And I’m talking to everyone.

 

Real kids do not have a workbook page.

 

You want to know why we are last in education. It is basic.

 

It is not because I have love for the Governor, respect for Roberson, or bordering hate for Ford. All of which is true because I follow politics that affect my classroom closely.

 

Policy makers did not listen to teachers.

 

School boards did not listen to teachers.

 

No one listens to the women who teach kids to read.

 

Men in charge did not listen to teachers.

 

School boards went crazy not listening to teachers.

 

Administrators run around trying to implement unfunded mandates non-stop by whipping labor who have zero supplies because they do not listen to teacher.

 

Playing politics is destroying Vegas public schools because you did not listen to teachers.

 

You blame the only people who are actually trying to get the job done because you did not listen to teachers.

 

While you are busy trying to win an election, make a name for yourselves, or get to where you are going – kids do not have the basics.

 

I will always love the Governor for putting the money back he took in the first place. It doesn’t escape my notice – he took it in the first place. A billion dollars heals many wounds.

 

I will always love the bold moves of Roberson. Even as I fight for Vegas schools to not be forced into privatization by unfair and unbalanced Achievement School District. My hate for ASD which attacks the civil rights of my community does not mar my respect for someone who is trying to make bold effective change. I get to vote at my school and I owe that to Gardner and Roberson. ASD is still junk. Still love Roberson.

 

I try to get over the abuse Ford has heaped on teachers in his immaturity and poor leadership. It doesn’t escape my notice that the neoliberal democrats have been significantly more damaging to my situation than the conservative right. I’m trying to forgive so that we can move forward. Hard to do as Ford screams at me and tells me to remove him from a list I do not have.

 

Frankly the men in charge are oblivious as they posture and politic. They really have no idea what needs to happen for improvement. I’m trying to tell them.

 

I really need some basic things for my kids. I can only keep trying to tell them. Like paper and books.

 

Paper.

 

Books.

 

And every child needs a real teacher.

 

I need the leadership in Southern Nevada to make a political football out of something else. The horse trading instead of intentional measured well thought planning is killing public schools. Midnight deals to please people screaming loudly from rich white neighborhoods cannot drive policy in a community which serves more poor children than any other large district. We serve the poor. We serve the language learner. We serve the needy and the broken. That is who is failing and those should be our focus is we are to improve. It is the south who needs to advocate for kids.

 

Please do not horse trade and manipulate public schools. The Southern Caucus has a unified voice if you work together. Unified as a Southern Caucus – you can do whatever you decide you want to do. You have enough votes if you are not divided.

 

There are real things that have to be done with Vegas public schools. The Southern Caucus needs to work together instead of battle about large “reform”. Surely you can put aside the things that are divisive and get things for your community.

 

The inequity in funding has to get fixed. The Nevada Plan costs us all. The Southern Caucus needs to find the things they can agree on to work together.

 

There is an inherent unfairness in the Nevada Plan. I need the Southern Caucus to make things better.

 

Kids in poor neighborhoods in Vegas do not have a workbook or a teacher. These kids will fail because they do not have the basics.

 

Everyone is wondering what is wrong.

 

I just told you.

 

Is anyone listening?

 

It is basic

 

So basic it doesn’t make for great politics.

 

Books

 

Paper.

 

Teachers.

 

The Southern Caucus needs to keep our own money until every child has a real teacher and supplies. The money needs to get to those who need the basics.
O God hear the words of my mouth, hold the poor and disenfranchised children in your hand. Help those in power to affect positive change for kids. Do not allow powerful men to trample on kids to get ahead. Please help teachers to speak out for children. Hold us in Your Hand.

 

All I can do is weep.