Monday, April 23, 2007

Oh, For Crying Out Loud! What now?

We are completely missing the point here when it comes to PSS' funding problems. It goes beyond who is essential and non-essential, and surpasses any arguments about who should be spared a pay cut or not. PSS is not saying we are any more special, any more necessary than public health and public safety agencies. We are saying, for crying out loud, that if you take 6 million dollars away from us right now, you will be carving a death warrant into our branches.

Every single time this government has lowered it's budgetary ax on agencies, PSS has not only been resourceful, but proactive in it's response. In the early 90's, we didn't whine and bitch about our problems, we went mult-track to accommodate the needs of students who relied on us for their education. In the late 90's, when Dr. Rita Inos took her seat as Commissioner, another crisis came along. Our budget cuts forced us to do away with such programs as art, music and computer labs. We lost our P.E. teachers. What did we do? Our teachers absorbed the added responsibility and took on the challenge of integrating these subjects. They lost their prep-times and had to pay more out of pocket costs for classroom materials like glue and crayons.

Every year that we have been affected by our government's lack of concern for education's needs (not luxuries), PSS has bounced. We even continue to pay into the retirement fund despite our meager resources!

This time is different. Six million dollars translates into 970 locally hired employees. Principals, vice principals, teachers, aides, support staff, central office staff, you name it! There are no delineations here between these folks.

I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to think that we're being punished for being resourceful. It's like telling the kid who never gives you any trouble that he can't have that new book you promised him because some other kid who can't stop whining won't leave you alone. The good kid doesn't complain and tries even harder to gain your approval while your attention is focused on keeping the naughty one from driving you nuts. I'm not saying other agencies are doing this. I am saying that something is pre-occupying our government and preventing them from prioritizing. I don't know what it is, and I feel safe in saying they haven't figured it out either.

During the House session, I was so perturbed at the terminology used over and over again when referring to PSS. I heard the words, "find money for PSS" , "help PSS" and the worst one yet, "bail PSS out". Hold on a minute! Bail PSS out? Pardon me, but don't you have to commit a crime in order to get bailed out? So, what was our crime?

I don't know Zaldy Dan Dan from Dan Dan Market, and I'm sure he's a nice guy, but he seems to think that I'm opposed to a pay cut. I'll tell you what I'm opposed to. It really irks me when something unfounded is said about me. You know what "essential" means in my profession? It means that during the tsunami alert, you are the last one out of the campus and the first one likely to get swept into the ocean. It means that when everyone else is home with their children, you are locking up or cleaning up. It means that you stand back and watch others reap the fruits of your collective labor without expecting to be recognized for any of your contributions. It means you do all of this voluntarily, because, like Justo assumes, that's what you get the big bucks for!

Our legislators made it a point to exclaim that PSS isn't the only agency hurting. Duh! Did I miss something here? Isn't our job to educate and their job to provide the resources we need to do so? The last time I looked, PSS wasn't campaigning for votes.

No. You got it all wrong. I'm not against a pay cut, I'm against the ignorance that turns it's back on the mandate we have to serve every child in our community. It would be very interesting to find out how much other countries and territories invest in their public schools. I would be willing to bet it isn't as miniscule an amount as we expect our own system to survive on.

Anyway, my posts are getting too serious. Stay tuned next time for more stuff that goes through my head when my brain isn't paying attention.


Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

Great post. I sent some other comments to your pss email.

Alyssa said...

Hi Boni!

I was clicking through some Saipan links and ended up on your blog.

Can't believe there may be more PSS budget cuts.. I also read your other post about the possibility of tearing down GES!?!?

Totally insane!!! I hope none of that really happens.

Ever since I left, I've dreamed of winning the lottery and donating a huge chunk of it to PSS (esp GES!)hehe

Anyways, I'm glad I found your blog, I'll be back to read more!