Friday, May 6, 2011

Dear Senator Larson,

Dear Senator Larson,

I would firstly like to say how much I appreciate all that you’ve done for people of Wisconsin.   My family, friends, and I have been great affected by all the hard work you and the other 13 Wisconsin Democratic Senators have done on our behalves. 

I am in my first year of teaching at South Milwaukee Middle School, I just graduated last spring from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point in Family and Consumer Science.  My first year teaching has been a blast!  I love going to school every day to see my students.  They bring me such joy and light and let’s be honest, they are so very funny too!  This week my students wrote me letters thanking me because it is Teacher’s Appreciation Week.  One of my students said she really respected me and my bright and positive attitude and she hoped that she could be like me when she grows up.  It melted my heart.  I am so lucky to have such great students, they have been the driving force to keep me going through all this political turmoil in the last few months.

Today was a very difficult day though, you see yesterday evening a contract was agreed to by my union that cuts 25-30% from my salary because our district is cutting overload salary in Allied Arts classes.  Currently I am paid overload because I teach every single student in the middle school, along with one other teacher in the district, my friend and fellow Allied Arts teacher, Rita.  We have six sections of classes each day with 30 students in each class and get new students every quarter.  Right now that equates to about 170 students a day and about 680 students a year in 6th-8th grade.  However, we have heard that next year will be even more students because the incoming 5th grade classes are very large so next year we’ll be teaching over 700 students a year but will no longer be compensated for the massive overload.

I love my students and I would do anything for them but I don’t know how I will be able to make ends meet next year.  I will barely be able to afford my used car, my one bedroom apartment, and my student loans.  Never mind gas and groceries and other things.  It'd be great to say that I'll get a second job after school but I'll have so much student work to keep up with I won't have time.  I’m struggling now with deciding if I want to stay in education or go into a field that treats me with respect.  I’m so defeated and heartbroken.  I find it incredibly ironic that this week is Teacher’s Appreciation Week because I can clearly see that my school district does not appreciate nor respect me and the hard work that I do for my students.

I realize that there is not much that you can do you but I did want to share my story with you.  I was there when you came to speak to the South Milwaukee teachers and it is very clear how respectful the school board has been to its teachers.   I thank you again for all the hard work you’re doing for Wisconsin’s future.

Andrea Ziolkowski

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