Hey everyone. On Wednesday, March 4th, at the SUSD School Board meeting, I spoke in front of over a thousand people. The speech was so well received that it was recommended by a board member, during the meeting, that I submit it to the Stockton Record. I thought you guys might like to read it as well.

And here's the update: they did vote and approved the layoffs and cuts last night. HOWEVER, I was not on that list. So, for now, I still have a job!!! I had several people come up to me last night and today to tell me how amazingly well-written and delivered my speech was. Also, one of my principals and assistant principals came into my class room to tell me what a wonderful job I did.

Needless to say, I'm really happy I didn't chicken out. And at one point, when the President of the Board warned the speakers that they were taking their own into their hands, I also freaked out. But, even though I was shaking, I did it! I was clear, spoke slow, and rocked it! :P

Anyhow, here's the speech. If you know any place that it could be submitted, and you want it to be, go ahead. Just give 'em my email address so that they don't bug you.

Love you all!!

Vic

___________________________________________________________________________________


Good evening Parents, Teachers, School Board Members, Superintendent Amato

My name is Victoria Smith, and I am a music teacher at El Dorado and Taft Elementary Schools.

Before I begin, I want to give you two names to consider: Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Condeleezza Rice, and Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan.

I came here tonight with several different topics of which I had a desire to speak. However, I decided to speak of the one thing that drives me to come to work every morning: the needs of my students.

When I was driving to work in the middle of a storm, I was trying to decide how best to describe our situation to you, the Board and the Public. Looking in my rearview mirror, I saw a car with no headlights, in the fast lane, in the middle of a downpour. I was certain they were going to hit me. Instead, what hit me was the best way to describe to you my students.

Almost every child is born with all of their necessary needs met: an engine that works, equipment that will see them safe. However, as the child grows, their needs are changed, developed, altered. As educators, as members of the community, it is our job to make sure that they have the continued and necessary maintenance and care needed to run a vehicle that operates and can see them safely home.

When educators are taken from the classroom and class sizes increase, teachers have less time to make a connection with their students, to help drive their education and their goals by example. When this happens, the steering column on the child’s car is broken, and they can only drive in circles. They cannot make new ground and advance beyond their circumstances. They can only drive in the same path they, and their families before them, have driven. There is no advancement, no future in that.

When teachers are instead, forced to focus on tests and test scores, rather than the end product of their students’ education, they are only allowed to make sure that the exterior, the paint job, is shiny and looks good to anyone on the outside. But does that paint, those test scores, give us any real indication as to what is beneath the hood, whether or not those students actually have the knowledge that an education is supposed to bring? This is not meant as an insult to my fellow teachers, but only as a way of showing an example as to what they are made to do.

In other cases, some students are born with defrosters that are broken and windshield wipers that smear instead of clear. These are our children with special needs. If no one is there to clear the windows, to clear the path, these students will drive in a dangerous direction, no one to help, no one to make sure that they arrive safely home.

And what happens when something in the engine breaks? When there are no mechanics, no counselors and assistant principals, to go under the hood and find what is broken? With no one there to assist the children in fixing their broken machinery, they are forced to drive until their engines explode, until fire engulfs whatever hope there may have been.

If physical education is taken from these students, who is left to make sure that they can physically keep up with the grueling pace set by the outside world? Will they be left with tires with no tread so that they slip across the wet road, or shocks unable to absorb the potholes in their lanes?

Without a cultured, well-rounded education, a child is left without light to guide through the murky downpour. With no music, no art, no science or social studies, the students’ cars are left with nothing inside or out to illuminate their paths. They are left to guess where their lanes are, to guess where they are headed. With no light, they can only choose a direction, following the other cars. They cannot choose an exit that will lead them on a different and more enriching path.

When deciding tonight on a budget that will affect our students for years to come, please remember with what machinery you are leaving behind.

And lastly, before I leave, I will tell you the point of Condeleezza Rice and Alan Greenspan. For better or worse, they helped to shape our country, they held that power in their hands. And BOTH were music majors.

Thank you.
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