Saturday, June 16, 2012
Friday, June 8, 2012
I am constantly curious about the journey our mail takes. Lynn's first June drawing captures mailboxes she dropped letters into over the years. Her drawing provides a glimpse to the start of letter's journey, but it fills my curiosity only partially. What path did letters take when she sent them from Egypt to Samoa? What adventures? It is a journey I'd like to trace.
Although the front of this card is a tale in itself, on its underbelly, Lynn wrote to me about the closing of school for the summer. The start of summer break is always sweet, but last year she also felt relieved to put distance on discussions of financial woes facing the public education system in Michigan. It can be a tiring, heated debate and is one that I listened to a lot growing up with a teacher as a mother. Although each day she would get up and work her heart out for her kids, her compensation, just as with most government jobs, depended on public policy and revenue rather than her effort or success. No rewards for hard work and no security if someone is relatively new or teaching elective classes.
It is the same in Ghana. Not only does a lack of incentives hinder teacher morale and performance, the budget is tight. In Ghana, nearly all of the education budget - which makes up a third of the government's total budget - goes to teacher salaries. This leaves the government with little money to build schools, develop materials, provide professional training - in short, to do anything other than pay teachers. Teachers deserve to be paid well, but each time I hear this debate, I always hope it will focus first on how to pay them rather than on blanket budget revisions. My two cents before school is out for the summer.