Dear President Obama,
I’ve wanted to work for the government for quite awhile now—more specifically, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. While I do attend an elite, liberal arts college (from which I’m graduating in three years) and am a relatively privileged, white male (I took an unpaid internship in South America), I did not want to participate in Teach for America or other resume bolstering programs that could propel me into a top graduate or professional program. Rather, I actually wanted to be a teacher. I did not want to be some white, upper-middle class savior for inner city kids and after two years flee back to the Ivory Tower or Wall Street. I was in it for the long haul; I wanted to work on the ground, everyday with students of all backgrounds. While I’m not so sure what it means to “win the future”, I knew that I wanted to help construct a future better than the present.
Unfortunately, a career in public education is no longer in the cards. Not that I haven't tried. Not having majored in education, I applied and was admitted to a Master’s in Education program that would concurrently award me state certification. At twenty years old, if all went according to plan, I would have a Master’s degree and one year of classroom experience. A fulfilling career in education would be ahead of me. However, I was recently informed that getting a teaching position (which is required for certification) would be next to impossible given my state’s proposal to slash its education budget by 13.1% or $9.8 billion.
There’s a rally on March 12th to encourage lawmakers to dip into our state’s approximately $9 billion “Rainy Day Fund” in order to maintain education spending at reasonable levels and save the jobs of some 100,000 public school employees. This protest will almost certainly fail because even if they do use that money, what happens next year? Our Republican Governor has already made it very clear that there will be no tax increases. Earlier in the term, he turned down $830 million in federal money slated for education because it required that the money be spent on—gasp—education. He’s since gone crawling back and submitted an application that was rejected because it would not guarantee that the money be spent on education. I think the picture is pretty clear, the best and brightest won’t be going into education any time soon. Not because the jobs are too low-paying (and they are), but because there simply are no jobs at all.
This letter is addressed to you, Mr. President, because it was your call for us to win the future—to support education, public service and use our talents for the betterment of society, rather than the enrichment of ourselves and fellow hedge fund investors. This is a letter from one of your best and brightest just letting you know that I tried to go into public service, but it pushed me out. More importantly, I thought you should know: the future is being lost in Texas.
Open Letter to President Obama from a Student Who Wants to be a Teacher
Dear President Obama,
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