Screaming at the computer as I read article after article has not been helping. Venting to my co-workers about the situation hasn't been doing much for me either. I would attend a political rally on the steps of the Capitol, but I happen to have a job that has not (yet) been affected by the shutdown: I am a teacher.
I understand the screaming and venting that federal workers have been doing. I understand if people not directly affected by the shutdown want to join in, but I am a member of an awkward "sub-group" of people known as Residents of the District of Columbia. I also fall into a "sub-sub-group" known as D.C. Public School Teachers.
I am no political expert, by any means; nor do I claim to even know the basics of this shutdown. I honestly envision President Obama as the father in the driver's seat, the citizens (collectively) as the mother in the passenger seat, and Congress as two kids playing a backseat game of "I'm not touching you." Unfortunately, one major part of this shutdown that I have had to pay attention to is the fact that Washington, D.C. is federally funded; therefore, just like the National Zoo and the Lincoln Memorial, we are, as a city, preparing to "close." No more trash pick up; no more libraries; and, here's the kicker for me, no more paying public (or public charter) school system teachers.
Apparently, this coming week, D.C.'s emergency funds will run out. As Mayor Vincent Gray continues to attempt to get leaders in Congress to listen to our cry for help, they continue to drag their feet and fail to reach an agreement. If Congress doesn't reach an agreement, or at least a vote to release the normal D.C. budget back to the city, all of D.C.'s government employees, including teachers, will be working (or not) without pay.
Let me take this moment to share the fact that I love my job and I won't be going anywhere. Shutdown or no shutdown, I will be there every day to ensure that the youth of D.C. are receiving the education they deserve. As a math teacher, I'll be working extra hard to ensure that those students receive the mathematical knowledge to know how to balance a budget properly and to recognize that 10 percent is usually a bad thing, especially for an approval rating. I'll be working to show my students that a six-figure salary is something to work for rather than something to hold over the head of shut down workers who truly deserve it. Lastly, I'll be working to teach my students to be honest and caring individuals so that, when they leave my classroom and the high school I teach in, they are able to recognize the value of hard work and the worth of their fellow human beings.
My message to Congress is simple: I don't need to get paid in order to do my job because I love what I do. Why do you?