May 2, 2024

Lena Angel: ‘My Job, Like the Anaconda in My Dream, Is Consuming Me.’

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Lena Angel, a Texas teacher, has dreams about being crushed and consumed.

I teach in Texas where it seems like every day brings a new nightmare. The challenges teachers face are coming from a variety of forces from campus expectations to school district mandates to state legislature — and they’re coming from all parties, including parents, students, administrators, politicians and society at large.

These facets are all converging together against us, slowly pressing down against our will.

When I try to talk to people about the state of education, my thoughts become muddled as I try to briefly summarize complex funding models and complicated political strategies into a brief elevator pitch.

I imagine it’s similar to telling a story with an anaconda wrapped around your body. Since I’m snake free, I’ll do my best to describe it. Being a teacher in Texas in 2024 is finding out that your friends lost their jobs — leaving school districts without librarians when reading scores are declining.

It’s being afraid that your counselor friends are next — at a time when student mental health issues are increasing.

It’s struggling to maintain your students’ attention because you can’t compete with TikTok.

It’s being called a “groomer” for creating a learning environment where all students are welcome.

It’s discovering that some of your local school board members, who are supposed to support public education, are backed by political groups that want to destroy it.

It’s being told that teaching is a “calling,” and that you should be willing to give up your lunch break, planning period and weekends for it.

It’s learning that you won’t get a raise despite a $32 billion dollar surplus in the state budget.

It’s making less than you did ten years ago, due to inflation, but still having to buy tissues for your classroom.

It’s seeing kids fight in hallways and do drugs in the bathroom while adults focus on which books to ban from the library.

It’s telling your students to always speak up because their voice matters — while simultaneously being afraid to use your own.

It’s hearing people say, “Public schools are failing!” when you know the accountability system is rigged, and worrying that the purpose is to promote your governor’s school voucher scheme in an effort to defund public education.

Read the full post here at her blog.

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