First, let me say, “forgive me,” to anyone who was at Poison Girl last Thursday. You have heard some of this before.

I am a teacher.

A week ago, the principal of my school came into my room and observed my classroom. Afterward, he sent me a review telling me what a great teacher I was, what a great rapport I had with my students and to keep up the great work. A month or so before that, my students voted me Teacher of the Six Weeks. One of them even said that I “was a G,” which I’m pretty sure stood for “gangsta.” I don’t say all of this to brag. I say it because last week that same principal had to look me in the eyes and tell me that, because of budget cuts, all first-year teachers would not be offered a contract for next year. I’m a first year teacher, so I wouldn’t be getting a contract. (Even though I’m a “G.”)

Now, I am no stranger to dreams. I am a journalist who has written for many local publications around town. I have covered a ton of bands, painters, artists, ballerinas, bar owners, writers, comedians, actors, poets, chefs and many more. I did this because I like the thought of helping people chase their dreams – whatever they may be. I even wrote about the editor of this very paper because I was excited to be a part of his dream to bring bands and musicians from all over the world to a festival in Houston. (And he did it! And he’ll do it again on June 4 and 5!) But now, I need some help with my lifelong dream.

I have always known that I was meant to be a teacher. And I’m a damn good one. I don’t come to you as someone who turned to teaching because there was nothing else for me. I don’t come to you as a teacher who isn’t passionate and compassionate about teaching students. I come to you as a teacher who wants to spend the rest of her life showing kids that they can understand The Odyssey and Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot. A teacher who wants to show students that the hardest part about writing is just realizing that you can do it! A teacher who wants to spend the rest of her life telling kids “My name is Ms. Rhodes, not Miss!” But I am not just here for myself.

I am here on behalf of all the teachers who love teaching and not to mention all the students that deserve to keep those teachers in their classrooms. Currently, the Texas legislator is creating a budget that will kick many wonderful teachers out of their classrooms. It’s a sad moment in our history when good teachers – good public servants – are worried about keeping their jobs.

With all that said, I would encourage everyone to go to www.savetxschools.org and send a letter or an e-mail to your local senator or state representative to say “Hey, education is something that affects us more than voter ID cards or freeways around Houston. Students deserve to have teachers that care about their education, teachers that are dedicated to their profession.” If you’re planning on being in Austin for SXSW, drop by the capitol on Saturday, March 12 from noon to 2 p.m. and show your support at the Save Texas Schools Rally.

I ask this of anyone who has had a great teacher (or even a bad one.) I ask this of anyone who believes that every student has a right to have a great teacher. But I especially ask it of anyone who has ever sent me, Dusti Rhodes, an e-mail or a text message that read “Hey Dusti, do you think you could help me with getting the word out on x, y, or z.” If I did, consider this the favor you said you would return.

Academically Yours,
Dusti Rhodes