“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.”
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.
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.