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A May Day Poem about Education, Kaivoksela Finland and Mapleton Colorado by Molly Prince

May 4, 2018

Paivi Karkkainen – one of Molly’s teachers in Kaivkosela, Finland (years later)

I was at the capitol on Friday with a few thousand

teachers and paraprofessionals

and their supportive friends and allies.

It was a beautiful sea of red.

And I found myself remembering

something my teacher said to me

In 1988.

in my class,

where I was the only dark haired girl in a sea of blondes.

Because I was in a somewhat unusual


for a little American girl.

My classroom was in a

Finnish public school

in Helsinki, Finland.

My teacher,

Regina Vesola,

told us

That a nation can be judged


how it treats its young and its old.

The class swelled with pride

when she told them Finland’s

ranking for

how they take care of their


I wish

I could swell with pride

about the way


takes care

of its children.


at my school

last year



had shit running

down the hallway.


A sewer problem

that every year


supposedly fixed

but kept coming back

in different


One year

I was teaching

a reading lesson

to a couple of

fourth graders.

They were sitting at my

kidney shaped

teacher table.

Ms Prince,

it smells like poop,

one of them said.

Why yes,

I realized.

It does.

taking the class


to escape

sewer smells

started to feel

like a




the routine.

Good news.

A new building

is under construction

this very moment


next Fall

kids and teachers

will be in a new building.


-we assume, we hope, we cross our fingers,



sewer smells.

How did this happen?

It was a collaborative


but our

local teachers’



Our local




going door to door


asking people

to vote yes

on the bond.

The bond passed by

(dramatic pause)

45 votes.

People who don’t want

to join the union

tell me

about ways it is imperfect.

I don’t claim that

its perfect.

Nobody is.


the teachers union

is a powerful force

for good

for teachers and


So, if you are a teacher

and have

the opportunity

to to join the teachers union

I hope you will.

Teaching, even when its good,


is exhausting work.

Teaching in impoverished schools

takes a toll

on a person’s


and on their spirit.

My acupuncturist tells me

he see tons of teachers

for insomnia.

A therapist friend tells

me she has numerous

stressed out melting down

teachers as clients.

I’ve lesson planned for hours

on Sundays for

17 years.

I decided not to do the math

about how many hours that adds up to.

And there is also so much I love

about teaching.

So much that is beautiful

and rewarding.

Something that gives me hope

is initiative #93

that teachers unions and superintendents

among others are

working to get on

the ballot

this November

that would increase funding

for all Colorado schools

and would especially

benefit the

poorest ones.

Here are a few of the things I want

when I say I want more funding for schools.

I want students in all schools to have music

and art and libraries.

I want the students

with the highest


needs to have

their needs met.

I want students to have engaging resources


Teachers who come back year after year

and hone their craft

until they are master teachers.

Because the conditions and the

pay make it desirable….

2017 - 12 - 29 - Mapleton School Bond

Mapleton, Colorado school bond campaign…2017.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Bill Conklin permalink
    May 4, 2018 9:50 am

    Excellent commentary on the schools. I was a Colorado teacher and I quit at the age of 35, that was almost 40 years ago and the only thing that has changed is that it is getting worse. I remember having to take money out of my pittance salary to buy books and copy them to make textbooks. In those days, I was expected to work all day, take papers home to grade all night and all weekend. I was a high school English teacher for a while and I was expected to grade more than 100 essays each week, outside of class. Although I got out of coaching sports, most teachers had to do that too. I hear now that teachers are at the constant beck and call of parents with email, etc. For years after teaching I had dreams about it and I think I suffered from a form of PTSD. The only reason it seems that school districts can hold personnel is because there isn’t much you can do with a liberal arts education. I actually liked teaching, but it was a dead end with low pay, a lot of stress, not to mention lack of materials and a suffocating infrastructure. Nowadays teachers have huge student loans they will never pay off and the Capitalist Hogs want to take retirement away from them.

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