Attack of the Pink Slime

Yes, it’s true. This is not an ad for some wacky horror movie. The pink slime is coming to a school cafeteria plate near you! And it apparently has people fuming if you believe the comments on some of the web pages. Before I go on, I will say that I will not be eating in our cafeteria on those days nor will I force my students to eat the meat made from the “pink slime.” My food snobbery will not allow me. I read The Jungle and I have deep fears about the meat packing industry. However, I cannot pretend to be surprised by this turn of events.

Close to 90% of the students at my school are on free or reduced lunch and my school is not even located in the lowest socio-economic area of my town. I can only imagine how many students across the country are on free or reduced lunch fares. The normal fare for my school is $2.35 per lunch. I am a bit shocked at the outrage from the public sector in response to the pink slime dilemma. Exactly what do they expect to buy for less than $3.oo a day? That’s not going to put prime rib on a child’s plate. There’s a lot of cyber noise right now about people decrying the FDA’s decisions to sell this type of meat product to school but no one seems to be able to supply an appropriate solution. Of course the budget cuts that have been felt across the board will reach your child’s lunch plate.

I feel that this noise mirrors the public’s attitude towards teaching. They expect teachers to provide an organic, grass feed, high quality teaching product but on a pink slime budget. You can’t demand quality unless you’re willing to write the check. This “demand more but give nothing in return” attitude is ruining the teaching profession. I read that in some schools 57% of teachers leave the field in their first ten years of teachers. That’s an astounding number. How can we turn that around? Lowering teacher expectations isn’t an option. Our students deserve the best and we need to ensure that they receive the best. We need to come to the table with solutions that will help materialize that goal.

I could have titled this blog “Attack of the Public Opinion.” Over the last few years, teachers have become the villains and public opinion blames us for a lot of the woes of our educational system. If you are going to speak out against the system, please do so. There are many things that we need to fix. However, don’t just stand there and scream, “Stop serving pink slime!” We don’t need an attack. That’s not going to fix any problems. Come to the table with an open mind and join the discussion about improving the quality of education in this country. I know we can do better than serving slime to our students. I just don’t know how to do that with the resources currently available or in some cases unavailable. Do you have any ideas?


Donnie Dicus

Donnie Dicus

Tucson, Arizona

My name is Donnie Dicus and I have been teaching in Arizona for 12 years. I came to Arizona from Southern Illinois to attend the University of Arizona in Tucson. I graduated in 2003 and began teaching second grade. I taught second grade in Tucson for 8 years before moving to Phoenix. I now teach third grade. I achieved National Board Certification in 2012 and I received my Master’s Degree from Grand Canyon University in 2015. I achieved a National Board Certificate in Middle Childhood Generalist in 2012. I’ve been teaching mainstream and SEI 3rd grade classrooms in the Cartwright School District in Phoenix since 2013. I taught 2nd grade and was a math interventionist in Tucson in the Amphitheater School District. I’ve been a technology coach and have helped teachers apply technology to improve instruction. I facilitate coaching cohorts for teachers going through the National Board process and organize peer groups at my site to pair new teachers with experienced teachers. In 2010 I was nominated as a Rodel Semi-Finalist for Exemplary teaching in 2010 and featured as a Teacher Leader in February 2016 by the Arizona K12 Center.
I have class pictures of every single student I have taught behind my desk on my wall. After 12 years, that is approximately 350 students. My students know that this is my Wall of Accomplishments. I am so proud of the difference I made in their lives. I became a teacher to make a difference and I strive to do so every day.

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