Last week, while I was on tour, more than 1300 people in my district received layoff notices. Having already seen the budget cuts for each school, I knew that many of those notices- and those yet to come- would be library staff. It was starting to look like 32 elementary libraries will be closing and more than that will have reduction in hours. Thirteen teacher librarians would get those “pink slips.” While I traveled, I rehearsed this post in my head.
What can you say to someone who knows her job is important, yet because of money, she will not return? What can you say to someone who works hard to meet the needs of an entire school, yet because of money, she will have to figure out how to do the same thing with less time? What can you say to the people who have established collaborative relationships with teachers, yet they will be “bumped” because someone with more seniority was eliminated or reduced?
I made a list of all the things I would say to those people. Then on Friday night, as I was making my way home, my boss called me. It seems there was a surprise layoff notice waiting for me at home.
So there I was- now in the net of people who work hard at their job, yet no matter how much work needs to be done, no matter how hard we work, we could lose our jobs. What do I say now?
I say the same thing I would say before. We should prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Get your check ups. Pay off your credit cards. Meet with your union. File for a hearing. Put a little money aside. Start putting out feelers for Plan B. Plan for the end of your job as you know it.
But…do your job every day. Help the people who need you. It’s not the fault of the children that there are budget reductions. It’s not the fault of the teachers- or the parents.
So, we get up in the morning and we remember why we took this job in the first place. The library is the one place at school where every person can feel welcome. Every child can feel safe. We remember that the children are the reason we have a job. We put ourselves aside and do the best we can for as long as they will let us.
In the end, things will work out. It may not be what we planned. It may not be what we expected. It may turn out to be a big fuss about nothing. It may turn out that we get to go to a different job that we love even more. We plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Oh! And one more thing. Pink is my favorite color. At least pink slips aren’t really pink.