Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Think you have it bad?

The Washington Post has been doing a multi-part series on the state of the schools in the District of Columbia - you may have to register with WaPo in order to access the online articles. So, regarding the situation in the D.C. schools: What a frickin' train wreck, is all I have to say. One of the most interesting parts of the online articles is the interactive gallery where you can read and listen to the thoughts of eight different teachers who work in the district. Here is just a little bit of what one teacher - Harold Cox - thinks:
You have to start off so the students know what the consequences are when they act out, and you have to involve the parents in those consequences. A lot of teachers threaten to call the parents or only call the parents if it's gotten completely out of hand. I don't hesitate. In fact, I don't look for a reason. I lean on the parents' authority. I've collected parent email addresses and made myself a database. Almost everyday, somebody is getting an email.

Some parents don't believe their children lie. If they are sleeping, I take pictures of them sleeping in class. It takes the whole ‘do I believe the teacher or my child?' out of the equation.

I think it would be good to have parents come and spend at least a half-day each month in school. Even the worst student would act differently if their parent were sitting in the class with them or walking the halls...

...I don't have any joy [teaching] anymore. It has become not a labor of love anymore, just labor.
Imagine the soul-smashing behavior and apathy that can bring a teacher to this point. I know I complain about my school sometimes, but I would bet a teacher in some of those D.C. schools would look at my worst students as comparative angels.

Good Day to You, Sir


Anonymous said...

I have frequently told my students that someday they will be monitored by camera. I'm surprised this guy can take still shots.


Polski3 said...

Is it any better in many parts of LA ? Or South-side Chicago ? Or in any big city, low income, low education level community ? I kinda doubt it.

What we need isn't necessarily parents hanging out at the schools (although that is not going to hurt), but we need politicians to go undercover as substitute teachers at schools to find out a bit, just a bit, about what the job TEACHER entails. Maybe then they'd do their job and adequately fund schools, legislatively restore discipline, etc. to public schools.

Chanman said...

The difference is that according to everything the NEA (and CTA) says is necessary for schools to succeed, exists in the D.C. school system. The majority of the teachers are the same color as the students, the per-student spending is one of the highest in the country, and yet, the school district is a basket case.

I never meant to imply that D.C. is uniquely dysfunctional by any means.

Don, American said...

But, in teaching, you earn that BIG money.

Anonymous said...

The saddest part of this story is that it falls in the laps of mostly young teachers and some experienced veterans to save this kids from a miserable life. How much time do we, as teachers, really have in a day to spend with other people's children, while neglecting our own?

Do you think that teachers without children at home get more "props"? They can do all the extras and still come home to whatever music they want, a glass of wine, a good book, and a full 8 hours of rest. Sometimes I'm doing dishes at midnight for crying out loud. Think I might be a little ready to leave at 3:30?