Is there anyone in the education world who wasn't motivated to tears at the beginning of this school year by a fifth grader named Dalton Sherman? The words "Do you believe in me?" were evangelically shouted over the cheering audience of 17,000 educators in the Dallas Independent School District at their beginning of school convocation. The YouTube video of the inspiring speech has been shown all over the country in schools and board meetings. Teachers from Maine to New Mexico have asked themselves "do we really believe in our students?" Dalton has continued to inspire, even sharing the stage with Maya Angelou, appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and being interviewed by numerous news outlets.
But in an emotional twist of fate, some teachers in Dallas may have to find something else to believe in besides students. Today 460 teachers are scheduled to be laid off due to the budget shortfall. Originally, 560 teachers were to be let go until a couple of hundred were "bought out." It is painfully apparent that more is at stake here than the fact that there will be 460 people packing up rooms and leaving. I picture bewildered children having to sever relationships that have been built since August. I see remaining teachers struggling to move their own classrooms in order to spread human resources around the district. And, although I'm aware that we're in a budget crisis, is this really the best time for this type of disruption?
All I can think of is Dalton's face, and the hope that school system began the year with, and I have to wonder...who's left to believe in the children of the Dallas ISD now?
Update: Dallas didn't fire the predicted 460 teachers today. Instead 375 were given the bad news . The stories of crying teachers and students, teachers returning to pack up classrooms, and distressed children who are unsure about what will happen on Monday when they return to school are heartbreaking. How can this be the answer?!