Recently, I had the opportunity to provide testimony for the Senate Budget Hearings in my home state. As I sat there, I was privileged to hear testimony from educators in the Public School realm as well as proponents of Public Charters. Sitting there listening to testimony, it was hard as I heard “Charters are taking from our students” & the “us vs them” theme was apparent. I sat and reflected on how my job was no different than those who worked in the public district.  And I became upset. Upset because I could see the faces of the 56 students I teach daily and the amount of work I put into making sure that I am providing what I didn’t receive in my public school education: quality instruction with love and compassion at the core.

Teaching is a hard job. I don’t think you will find one educator, whether in a public district school or a public charter, who will tell you differently. But let me tell you, it takes a special type of person to work a longer school day and year, with a smaller salary, and still stand firmly in the teaching field year after year. In an economy where so many worthwhile and impactful organizations are vying for funds, I think that it is important to note that, while there are so many things we can’t do without a favorable budget, there are so many things we are doing with what we are given.

I am a Charter School teacher. Not a teacher in a Charter School. They are two very different things. You see, a teacher in a Charter School, could be a teacher anywhere. Maybe they will thrive, maybe they won’t.

A Charter School teacher is one who whole heartedly believes in the mission of the Charter School movement. Who won’t bend when verbal attacks say that they aren’t worthy of educating students. A Charter School teacher does so much more with so much less. They take that challenging student that has gone from district school to district school and they offer them compassion. They use their salaries that are no where comparable to those of the public districts to purchase basic supplies for those scholars who come to school without pencils or notebooks. They purchase the materials their public charter schools can’t provide because they receive much less per pupil than the public district schools do. They find innovative ways of teaching outside of the box, doing more with less.

The Charter School teacher works lunch duty, and uses this as an opportunity to connect with the student who always falls asleep in class. She offers up her lunches to tutor students daily. She provides parents with support for their struggling scholar, sometimes until the wee hours of the night. She works after school programs and Saturdays because she knows that every child CAN and WILL succeed when given the right tools.

A Charter School teacher doesn’t blame the Public School district for “sending the troubled kids” to his school. He doesn’t let the fact that a large percentage of funding per pupil stays in the district, creating a financial and educational gap, deter him from advocating for School Choice. A Charter School teacher teaches children with the resources at hand, mixed with passion and will stand proudly doing so.

I am a Charter School teacher and I am proud to advocate not only for myself, but for my scholars who have come alive in a Charter School.