OPINION: The Silent Thoughts Of A Teacher


Teachers, students and community members protest statewide budget cuts this morning at Inderkum High School. Students reportedly staged a walk out during their second class period.

By Nekita DuVal

I am writing this letter to bring your attention to life as an educator today.
School districts across California have been hard hit with statewide budget cuts. Having said this, I find it crucial to bring light to what life looks like for us.

My husband and I are both elementary school teachers at American Lakes Elementary in the Natomas Unified School District. I am a 3rd Grade Teacher and he is a Special Education Teacher. We have been at American Lakes for the last 4 years as a team of devoted and passionate teachers and members of the community.

American Lakes is a Title 1 school that has been recognized for having outstanding growth in closing the achievement gap and ranked one of the top schools in Northern California in regards to our high test scores. We are one of the smallest and oldest schools in our district and area. Yet, we are efficient and hard working.

At our school site alone we have 22 kindergarten to 5th grade teachers. Of those 22, 13 will be pink slipped. That is 60% of our staff! Sixty percent of the hardest working people I know.

We face horrendous challenges as is with a tiny budget to run the school and an even tinier budget to run each classroom ($50 per year). Yes, $50 for an average of 25 students to provide all supplies, pay for field trips, and run a classroom.

A PINK SLIP: A huge scare. The unknown. The “Will I have a job in a few months?” If we get a pink slip, which is inevitable at this time, we hold our breaths over the next few months until the first week of next school year. Six months ahead of us. Wondering, “Should I look for a new job?” “Do I feel lucky? Or am I high enough on the seniority list to be safe?” We could resort to dipping into our savings accounts to pay for upcoming months. Yikes! What savings?

We spend the majority of every dollar we make on our students. Our students are like our children. We invest so much into them hoping they will carry the torch, reach their dreams, and go further than ever. How many people show up to work with shopping bags full of supplies on a daily basis? Pencils, erasers, buying ink and paper for the printers, binders, binder paper, extra snacks for the child that shows up hungry. Are you kidding me? I put myself through college, in doing so I have worked many different jobs. Not one of them did I supply the supplies to run the job too.

Who are we? We are young and older, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. We are your neighbor, your best friend, that person who let you go ahead of them at the grocery store, on the high way, in life. We really need your help California! You know us well, we as teachers have taught every one of you. Helped you get to where you are. Someone out there has to be in a position to do something about his situation. Step up.

Step up for the sake of a future in our community. We were students in a different time. A time when it was safe to eat homemade treats on Halloween. Where are we now? It is just real bad. We worry every day. That is not what CA asked and pleaded just a few years ago. CA asked for teachers. Highly trained teachers, expert teachers. Teachers that have been in college so much longer, passing hundreds of hurdles to spend endless hours of our creativity, insight, knowledge on all of you.

We really need your help!

What can you do? I don’t know for sure. Talk to your community. Put our minds together. We as a community can do something to make the situation better. Call your state representatives. Share your thoughts and help us save our hard work. Help us keep doing what we do. We will be out showing our faces all over CA to say here we are. We are the ones. From a tiny school, American Lakes Elementary to the universities. Stop and say “Hello!” Share any thought and help us find a way to save our schools and all the positive things we do there.

Nekita DuVal is a third-grad teacher at American Lakes Elementary School.


  1. Anonymous says

    Nurses, police officers and fire fighters receive salaries approaching $100,000. All teacher have college degrees, many advance degrees. Yet we pay teachers about half what we pay these other dedicated professionals. Now we demand teachers to sacrafice more through salary cuts, furloughs and other take-aways. And our thank you is a pink slip. Shame on us!


  2. Anonymous says

    People of California, if you can’t be persuaded to fully fund education for moral or social reasons, perhaps we can appeal to your sense of greed: better schools mean your house is worth more.

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