Monday, February 24, 2014

Anonymous asked: Thank you for posting all this stuff about public school teachers!! My mom is a teacher at a high school in my city. The school she teaches at is the lowest income, lowest reading level, lowest test scores, etc. and she is just done. She's tired of the government failing students. She teaches 11th grade and so many students cannot read or form a decent sentence or paragraph and nobody cares about these kids because they're poor, most are Latino or black, and no one expects them to go to collegeí ¼

My mom teaches public school, too! She teaches fifth grade in a rural, mostly white (because, you know, rural Maine), but very poor district. A lot of the kids (and their parents) have the mentality that they can’t go to college, and couldn’t afford it even if they could, so they’re jaded and don’t see the point of trying - by the fifth grade!

When I was growing up, my mom used to take her classes on field trips to living history museums and science museums, and her classroom was full of equipment for hands on science experiments and novels of different reading levels and themes for reading groups that tied into their social studies curriculum. They used to go out into the woods around their school to learn about outdoor skills and ecology. She used to recruit parent volunteers to help her turn the gymnasium into Ellis Island for a day every year, writing each student an individualized profile of an immigrant - some would get past the parent screeners, and some would get turned away for xenophobic reasons, and afterwards they would discuss and write about it.

She doesn’t do any of that stuff anymore, and the kids don’t get to read those books, or go on those trips. It’s not because she doesn’t want to, it’s because her curriculum is handed down from on high, and involves pre-selected kits to prepare her students to take standardized tests. If she deviates, she gets a special lecture from her principal - a man who was still in high school when she had been inspiring students for years. She’s not allowed to hold students back without parent permission, so functionally illiterate students frequently end up in high school.

I have a lot of feelings about the state of public education, and the way public school teachers are treated.

Sunday, February 23, 2014
Look closely—you’ll recognize the formula: Underfund schools. Overcrowd classrooms. Mandate standardized tests sold by private-sector firms that “prove” these schools are failures. Blame teachers and their unions for awful test scores. In the bargain, weaken those unions, the largest labor organizations remaining in the United States. Push nonunion, profit-oriented charter schools as a solution. Dean Patton, The Myth Behind Public School Failure
I work at least 10 hours a day and get paid for 7 3/4. I tutor children after school almost daily. I have students come into my room before school, at lunch and during my “planning period” for tutoring, for computer time, project help, school supplies, etc.

I bring work home and grade papers every weekend and during all our “breaks.” During my “paid vacation” I read, study, write lessons, organize textbooks and novels. People like you think the allure of working until you are exhausted for 40K a year is “greedy?”

I know I sometimes wonder what I was thinking becoming a teacher after years working in advertising. I guess the “lavish lifestyle” my new paycheck affords me is just too much to resist.
Commenter publikeducated on this article
The problem with teaching as a profession is that every single adult citizen of this country thinks that they know what teachers do. And they don’t. So they prescribe solutions, and they develop public policy, and they editorialize, and they politicize. And they don’t listen to those who do know. Those who could teach. The teachers. Sarah Blaine, You think you know what teachers do. Right? Wrong.

All of you former students: you did not design curricula, plan lessons, attend faculty meetings, assess papers, design rubrics, create exams, prepare report cards, and monitor attendance. You did not tutor students, review rough drafts, and create study questions. You did not assign homework. You did not write daily lesson objectives on the white board. You did not write poems of the week on the white board. You did not write homework on the white board. You did not learn to write legibly on the white board while simultaneously making sure that none of your students threw a chair out a window.

You did not design lessons that succeeded. You did not design lessons that failed.

You did not learn to keep your students quiet during lock down drills.

You did not learn that your 15 year old students were pregnant from their answers to vocabulary quizzes. You did not learn how to teach functionally illiterate high school students to appreciate Shakespeare. You did not design lessons to teach students close reading skills by starting with the lyrics to pop songs. You did not miserably fail your honors level students at least in part because you had no books to give them. You did not struggle to teach your students how to develop a thesis for their essays, and bask in the joy of having taught a successful lesson, of having gotten through to them, even for five minutes. You did not struggle with trying to make SAT-level vocabulary relevant to students who did not have a single college in their county. You did not laugh — because you so desperately wanted to cry — when you read some of the absurdities on their final exams. You did not struggle to reach students who proudly announced that they only came to school so that their mom’s food stamps didn’t get reduced.

You did not spend all of New Years’ Day crying five years after you’d left the classroom because you reviewed the New York Times’ graphic of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and learned that one of your very favorite students had been killed in Iraq two years before. And you didn’t know. Because you copped out and left. So you cried, helplessly, and the next day you returned to the practice of law.

You did not. And you don’t know. You observed. Maybe you learned.

But you didn’t teach.

Sarah Blaine, You think you know what teachers do. Right? Wrong.
Sunday, February 9, 2014 Sunday, November 24, 2013
Today, when you write your angry comments online about how awful teachers are, it never occurs to you that you could not read articles and comment on them were it not for your teacher and her blood-red pen. Hannah Diamond, You are not a teacher.
Monday, November 4, 2013

You are setting up teachers to take the blame for all of this. You have portrayed us as greedy, lazy money-draining public servants that do nothing. I invite you to come do my job for one week Governor Christie. I invite you to come see my students, see how little they really have during the school day as they are being forced to keep learning for a single snapshot of their educational worth. For that one end-all, be-all test, the NJASK. The one that the future of my job and my life is now based upon.

Why do you portray schools as failure factories? What benefit do you reap from this? Have you acquired financial promises for your future campaigns as you eye the presidential nomination? Has there been back-room meetings as you agree to divert public funds to private companies that are seeking to take over our public educational system? This is my theory. To accomplish all of this, you are setting up the teachers to take the blame. Unfortunately, you are not the only governor in our country that has this agenda.

What do “we people’ want, Governor Christie? We want our schools back. We want to teach. We want to be allowed to help these children to grow, educationally, socially, and emotionally. We want to be respected as we do this, not bullied.

Melissa Tomlinson, Letter to Governor Christie from the New Jersey Teacher He Screamed At
Saturday, October 19, 2013