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Budbill: Teaching Jobs

In my poem titled "Cyd" from JUDEVINE, Thucydides Augustus McInnes, better known as Cyd, goes, at the age of 80, to Florida intending to spend two weeks visiting friends. When I saw Cyd down at The Garage the next time after he came back and asked him how his trip had been, he said:

“Well, sir, that place I was in, that condom-in-ium, had rules to keep out all the animals and children. Can you imagine that? How could anybody spend his life without animals and children?”

Cyd left two days after he arrived and came home.

I thought of Cyd recently when a friend came out to help prepare my gardens for the summer. At lunch he told me about a situation he and his wife were facing. They both graduated from UVM less than a decade ago. They’re now almost 30. They came to Vermont after having spent time in California, but they’re both New Englanders and they'd like to stay here. The catch is, they have to have jobs to stay. They're both teachers, both are in debt for their educations, and they’ve been affected by their local school budget proposal being voted down this spring. My friend’s wife was at the bottom of the seniority list, so when the jobs were cut, she lost hers. It was a job she loved. And my friend has been working as a tutor while waiting for a permanent teaching position – a prospect also made harder by budget cuts. They both love living in Vermont but without jobs, and some way to pay off their loans, they’re going to have to leave and go somewhere else.

Then, just the other day I got a note from my friend saying, “It looks like we're moving back to California.

“Both of our principals from California got back to us and offered full-time positions for next year and we couldn't turn then down."

“It’s a bittersweet move for sure. We’re excited to be embarking on another great adventure but sad and disappointed that we couldn't make it work here in Vermont."

“By the way,” he concludes, “two other young teachers at my wife's school are heading back to Colorado with their husbands in order to find work and greater opportunity.”

All this got me wondering what we have to do to make it possible for young people to stay here – and what this situation may have to do with the fact that Vermont is very nearly at the bottom of any list ranking state funding of public higher education. Too often, we burden our young people with heavy loads of debt and then drive them away. If we're not careful - and we may have already gotten there - this is going to be a state for old people, like me. And with few young people living here there won't be many children - might as well live in that condo in Florida.