LETTER: Greedy for a better educational system

All students will have questions, even typical ones

Yes, I am greedy. I am greedy for time. Time to spend with each of my students, checking in with them, ensuring they have a grasp of concepts we are studying. Time to answer their questions, time to ask how things are going. Time to help. Time to encourage. Time to praise. Time to listen. I am hungry for time.

I am greedy for resources. I want textbooks for each of my students. Textbooks that have covers attached! Textbooks where I don’t see my name inside the front cover, or the names of my classmates from when we were students more than 20 years ago. I want shop equipment that is up to date. A cooking unit for every group in a home ec class. PE equipment that is safe and functional. Technology that works, and enough to go around. Yes, I am greedy.

I am greedy for adequate specialist staffing to meet my students’ needs. I want a full-time teacher librarian. I want the school library to be open all day, every day. I want the counsellors to be available for students in need, because I am not formally trained in counselling, and I can’t be in two places at once. Or 10. I try, but I just can’t do it. I want a school prevention worker who is on site more than one half day/week so my highest-risk students are supported when they make healthy choices or when they’re scared they won’t. I want my students to be assessed by a school psychologist in the same year they are referred. I want educational assistants in my classes to help the most vulnerable students, the ones who are falling through the cracks. Or even the typical ones – they have questions too. Yes, I am greedy.

I am greedy for services. I want social workers to be less overwhelmed so they can support the students we share. I want more foster families so my kids in care don’t have to leave the community. I want affordable housing so their parents don’t face eviction when they can’t make ends meet. I want full cupboards, so I know my students are getting more than the meals I give them at school. I want my student who attempted to take her own life twice this year to have access to mental health services right now, not in three to six months when it may be too late. I want my students who cut themselves to see a counsellor when they need to see a counsellor, not in 9-12 months because they are not high priority. I want a system that actually does put families first.

I am greedy for my own children, just beginning their journey in public education. My two bright, fiery stars, full of questions and ideas and big plans. My two little people who do their best to follow the rules. Who don’t make a lot of noise. Who don’t act out. Whose raised hands get passed over because their teachers just can’t get to everyone, and their needs are not the greatest in the class. My excited, motivated children, with their deeply rooted love of learning, whose questions don’t get answered. Who are learning to stop asking questions. Whose fire will stop burning if we don’t do something soon? I am greedy.

I am greedy for a better system. One where everyone’s needs are appreciated. One where students are supported. Where resources are available. Where programs are available. I am greedy for something better. Is that such a bad thing?

Melanie Harris