The Rev. John Thomas, the former General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, is now a professor and administrator Chicago Theological Seminary. His wonderful blog post for this Christmas is about the importance of quality public school teachers: All I Want for Christmas.
“While the old holiday song suggests that children might want two front teeth for Christmas, this year I’d like to suggest an alternative: “All I want for Christmas is a teacher.” Sunday’s New York Times reported the stark impact of the recent recession on schools, namely, the massive loss of public school teachers since 2008. According to Labor Department statistics, public schools across the country employ 250,000 fewer people today than they did prior to the recession. Meanwhile, pupil enrollment has grown by 800,000 students. To maintain pre-recession staffing ratios, public schools nation-wide would have had to add 132,000 jobs.
“What does this look like in the classroom? In Coatesville, Pennsylvania, a declining steel town forty miles outside of Philadelphia, the professional workforce of 600 prior to the recession has been cut by twenty percent. This means that some of the thirty students in one fourth grade class sit halfway into a coat closet. In a middle school social studies class one teacher handles twenty-five students, ten with special education needs, four who know little or no English, and several others who need advanced work to stay engaged. He used to have two aides to help; not any more.”
Thomas concludes by sharing the story of the public school music teacher who composed the song, “All I Want for Christmas.” Read Rev. Thomas’s blog post here.
Good wishes for the season to all readers of this blog!