Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Ship Sank

Elizabeth, my anonymous commenter, wanted to know why I continue in this chosen field if I'm so negative and I've been pondering that while we've been having conference week. So, as my teammates and I have been conferencing with the most difficult of the 5th graders and letting them and their parents know that they are heading toward doom, destruction and failure, I have been wondering why I keep doing this. (Best conference - some mama was upset because her son, who just came to us - who has failed third and fourth and fifth grade -this would be his second attempt at fifth - -wasn't allowed to leave the room at will to pee. Really, Mitchell? Really? I would have thought that your first cause of concern would have been about the fact that your 13 year old can't read or add. And that he's still in 5th grade.)

I have also been searching for another path - something to do that would be as fulfilling as this job once was before the President and the Governor and all types of legislators decided that they could tell me what and how - as if their professional judgment was somehow better than my 20 years in all different types of classrooms.

I've also been keeping my eye on a most troubled young man - one of the most troubled students I can say I have ever taught. Every day, someone in our school finds out something different about him and his three brothers in our school. They arrived at our school in early December because they had been thrown out of their apartment complex because the first grader and third or fourth grader had been vandalizing the place and gang fighting. (WTF? the first grader?) None of these boys is anywhere near grade level and heaven help my fifth grader, he appears to be helping to raise his younger brothers while his three older brothers are doing who knows what and his mama - a "professional singer" sleeps all day long. My student missed three days of school this week - couldn't get anyone to return a phone call for me - but word on the street was that he was in the hospital. When he returned on Thursday, he told me that he had an infection in his tooth and his jaw was swollen almost shut. Had to have antibiotics - and will need to have a root canal. Uh - holy mandated reporter call. Find the social worker - I can't imagine how much this hurt and how long it had bothered him before this infection blew up.

So, why do I do this? It goes like this: before BrownBear entered kindergarten, it came down to what was I going to do while both of them were in school. I was a school teacher before the girls were born. I had taught junior college part time and preschool part time after they were born, but now, they were both going to be gone for huge chunks of time. I could help my family by going back full time (and staying out of the Target), especially since LawyerBoy is self-employed and one thing teachers usually get is insurance. We'll see how that goes from now on.

I had some extremely conservative friends who were homeschoolers and they were appalled by my decision - first of all to even send my children to school (really? you should see how well adjusted their kids are now) and second that I would even consider going back to work myself. But what they didn't understand was how lucky our children have it - Prep and BrownBear have never wanted for our attention or for food or medical attention or material things. But my friends couldn't believe that there were children who went without - I guess - and that was one of my other reasons. Who would take care of the kids who didn't have anyone? I could make a dent - and that's the rub. Here we are, trying to make a difference and our difference doesn't matter to those people in charge.

I'm not trying to get rich trying to teach. I'm trying to keep my house heated, my children fed and clothed and keep my insurance.

What I need people in office to realize is that I am as much of a professional as they are. I care for the future of this country. I don't need you to tell me how to do my job or for you to balance your budget on my back.

And yesterday, the Superintendent - the one who took a $25,000 raise this past year, told us, after holding back our step increases and having us take a 2% decrease in our salaries - that we were going to be furloughed three days.

So, thanks for the vote of confidence. Thanks for that thumbs up. Thanks. While you might not be elected to office, your entire school board, especially the members whose heads are so far up your ass, they can't talk until you open your mouth, are up for re-election. We're gearing up to throw you out. And we're just starting with the school board. The legislature and the governor are next.

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Blogger Lennye said...

Well said!! I appreciate you putting a voice to my innermost feelings on education. We were told this week we have another three days of furlough coming (We've already had three).

My nerves are shot right now and government officials aren't helping. My principal believes that 90% of my 5th grade students need to pass the writing test. Come on...they came to me not even writing in paragraph form! So now I have writing test anxiety and CRCT anxiety.

So preach on...

1/30/2010 9:32 AM  
Blogger Liberty Rose said...

Can you hear my applause? I have been doing this 18 years in the land of EBD and am one fried crispy critter... and not even because of student related stressors, but because of administrative and school board crap. I am in it for the kids, to make a part of their day more gentle and kind.
But you know, lately that has become not enough. How many really talented teachers have we lost in this battle?
And what's with furloughing teachers? That means families have to find other places for their kids so they can still work (if they have jobs) and kids are out of more learning time... and how is that supposed to help test scores?

1/30/2010 12:14 PM  
Blogger Ginger Snaps said...

Oh, speaking of furlough days next year, I've just learned we will have FIVE! FIVE! WTF is wrong with these people? Pay us less, but expect us to do more...I'm soooo confused. Mmmm hmmm.

1/30/2010 5:58 PM  
Blogger mamamagnolia said...

Just found your blog. Thanks for blogging about the things I find myself thinking very often. Furlough days along with test cheating accusations have brought teacher morale to an all time low. I just pray teachers can weather the storm.

2/13/2010 8:07 PM  

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