Little Pawns in the Big School Budget Battle

“Our teacher is going out of business!”

Those were the words that came from an 8 year old child at Golden Hill Elementary on March 13th as the names of freshly pink-slipped teachers were posted on a special sandwich board in front of the school. Balloons and pink hearts marked the classrooms of teachers who were on the list. The children pondered aloud “Who’s going to play the guitar?” One distressed child finally announced “I’m packing up and going to where Mr. D goes. I’m running away.”

Pink hearts let the children know which teachers were given pink slips.
Pink hearts at Golden Hill Elementary let the children know which teachers were given pink slips.

While some Fullerton elementary schools protect their children from the politics of school funding, the faculty and PTA at Golden Hill Elementary decided to stage their own on-campus rally, dramatically putting their students on notice that unfortunate changes were ahead.

I understand the frustration and worry that teachers have about the district budget, but it is not right to flaunt a budget battle to an impressionable and captive audience on school grounds. Children deserve to know when something is going to change, but it needs to be presented in an encouraging way to ensure that each child can cope with the potential loss that may be ahead.

Child development experts express the importance of being sensitive when explaining job loss to young children. The most critical items on the list are: Be positive about the situation; leave out the gory details; don’t disrupt your child’s routine and keep everything as normal as possible. Since our teachers are required to take child development classes, most of them should know this, and yet all of this advice was ignored at the expense of our children on Pink Slip Day.

Young children were used
A young child holds up a sign at the pink slip protest in Downtown Fullerton on March 12th, 2009.

As teachers and parents continue to fight the noble political battle to keep our classrooms funded, they should be careful to hold our children’s emotional wellbeing above the fray.

9 Replies to “Little Pawns in the Big School Budget Battle”

  1. Excellent article. Even if you want to protect education funding it is possible to see the downside of using little kids to further your agenda.

  2. I’d like to know who put this protest together, the teachers or the PTA? Obviously the school let it happen, so they must accept some of the blame. If I had a child at that school, I would be pretty vocal at the next PTA meeting too.

    1. Word on the playground is that the PTA was behind all of this, but the teachers are fully supporting it.

  3. the teachers’ antics that harm their students sends the clear message that the bar for teacher quality must be raised. where are their ethics?

  4. From my understanding, if the teachers have tenure they can’t be tossed into the streets. They can however, be moved to another school. But given the ranking of California schools, looking for a job in another state might not be a bad idea anyway.

    Whether it was a bunch of irate parents or the teachers who put this together, I think that this is a far more complicated issue than the kids need to know about.It involves politics, unions and budgets. While it’s inevitable that they are going to hear something about it, it isn’t necessary to use such tactics to put them into a Chicken Little tailspin.

  5. Kanani, another clear-headed comment. Thanks.

    The issues are way too complex for little kids to be bothered with. Their indoctrination in the political aspects in all of this is, frankly, contempitble.

    Also contemptible is the Fullerton Observer’s (and like mided cohorts) willingness to go along with the exploitation. Can you imagine their outrage if the kids of conservative parents were used to demonstrate against higher taxes? Oh the outrage! Oh, the humanity!

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