Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Any Teacher Can Tell You Why So Many Of Us Are Leaving The Profession

While I am no Trilby, there are a few Svengalis in the Blogosphere whose bidding I do.

Oh, okay, nobody is going to believe that one, and besides, it sounds more than just a little bit provacative (UNLESS you know who Trilby and Svengali were) (I like to toss in a little 'cultural literacy' bidness once in a while, just to see who's "with it") (Context is important), so here's the skinny:*

When someone sends me a link to an article and wants to know my opinion, I give it. It's not always easy, because I am easy-going and SOOOO non-opinionated, and I really don't care how other people raise their children or how those children behave in public. . . .

That's not going to work either, is it. Busted.

I'm being somewhat frivolous because I know that when I begin to write about this topic, I'm going to offend and infuriate a lot of people, but I have seen all of this with my own eyes and so often a parent sees only his/her own side of this issue. I will also get so angry when I think about and remember a lot of this stuff, that my grammar might get iffy and this possibility makes me even angrier. :)

Here's the deal: Someone I really like AND respect has asked my opinion of a certain New York Times letter, based on this New York Times article, and because I am Trilby and he is Svengali this article really hit me where it counts, I'm jumping on it. Read both pieces of writing before you read mine.


Are you finished reading? Okay, then you will understand what I'm going to say a bit better.

First of all, the letter is absolutely spot-on correct. Most teachers who leave the profession, leave because almost all of the attention, most of the perks, most of the privileges, and most of the allowances are given to the students who least deserve it: the disruptive kids. In other words, these loud, bratty, obnoxious kids are being rewarded for their disgusting behavior, so why should they clean up their act? I wouldn't. Not if doing my own thing meant I'd still get to have and do everything little goody two-shoes next to me got to have and do.

Secondly, many of the parents who are involved with the school are the parents of these same brats. School administrators fear negative PR, and to a principal or superintendent, negative PR is when a loud-mouthed parent with a shitty kid calls the newspaper office. Entitlement is the bane of our society's existence, and it's alive and well in our public schools.

"You WILL accept my child and you WILL give him/her a special lunch and you WILL treat him/her on a different level than all these other peon kids and you WILL hold his/her hand and you WILL allow him/her to break any rules we as a family do not believe apply to us. . . ." Lovely mentality, yes?

Or this:

"Trailer for sale or rent, or possibly just someone else's the family is mooching, no phone, no pool, lots of pets, chain smokin' beer-guzzlin' shacked-up, in and out of jail, hopeless, if that damn school tries to call me one more time I'm goin' down thar and kick some ass. . ." Lovely mentality, yes?

Me, personally, I think that if there are any perks to be handed out, they should go to students who have earned them. No earn? No get. Ever.

Why should a student bother to behave himself if he knows he's going to get a limo ride and a Pizza Hut lunch for bringing a pencil three days in a row? I wouldn't.

Why would a student exert himself to do any work, or allow anyone else in the classroom to do anything either, if he knows he's going to be passed to the next grade anyway? Yes, I am a firm believer in holding back any student who can't do it, won't do it, or any combination thereof.

I don't want my tiny second-grade-size daughter seated next to a hulking ballistic cursing disruptive 15-year-old, but if everyone is REQUIRED to behave properly, there wouldn't be any problems even then, now would there? Because while a student can't help the "hulking," there are no viable excuses for being ballistic, cursing, or disruptive. EVER. Any person of any age who behaves in such a way should be removed immediately, not at the end of the day but IMMEDIATELY, escorted out by the police if the parent can't be reached, and locked away where he/she can no longer deny other children their right to an education. That our schools have lowered themselves to becoming daycare centers for kids who are not required to behave themselves is a national disgrace. The schools who allow it are a disgrace, the parents who allow it are a disgrace, and the kids themselves are a disgrace. That's right; I'm labeling children. After a certain age, they know how nice people behave. Life is full of choices. CHOICES. Door #1: Thank you for being a nice person who behaves properly. You may stay and be educated, that your life's choices might increase. Door #2: Are you sure you want this door? Absolutely sure? Very well. Get out and do not set foot near the school grounds ever again. You are bringing down the entire population of students. Good riddance. Billy Madison speech. Door #3: Whine. Scream. Curse. Threaten. Hire a lawyer. Make promises. We don't care. Get out. And take your obnoxious kid with you.

If only.

In other words, disruptive bratty obnoxious kids are mostly a product of their home.

Teachers who say things like this are few and far between. Not because they aren't thinking such things 24/7, but because it's dangerous to speak out. Ethnicity, race, gender, and social levels have nothing whatsoever to do with this issue, but teachers who recognize the actual problem and try to do something about it are often accused of being racist, sexist, un-PC, heartless, "in possession of inappropriate knowledge," etc. And often the biggest brats belong to the parents with the most political pull.

In other words, somebody screams "prejudice," when the truth is, these teachers are speaking truth.

Until the bullies and the disrupters and the violent and the kids who have no respect for learning are removed from our schools, our schools can not be what the free public schools were meant to be: places where all who wish to learn, may learn all they wish.

It's hard to learn when 25 of the 38 kids in your classroom have important Letters of the Alphabet in their files, prohibiting the teacher from requiring any work or proper behavior. It's hard to learn when it's so loud you can't hear yourself think, and that awful boy next to you keeps stealing your stuff and hitting you on the arm and laughing. He can't help it, poor thing, it's in his IEP that nobody may do anything that would lower his self-esteem.

On the first day of school, let the rules be known and let the penalties for disregarding the rules be known. Let there be no exceptions to these penalties. Require a signed document from every family, admitting understanding of these policies. Require an additional signature under the paragraph that spells out the "no exceptions" policy. From Day One, Period One, expect and require good behavior from all students. Instantly remove any kid that chooses to be an ass. Ass-behavior is always a personal choice.

No document from home? No privileges for the kid. Not until it's signed and filed in the office. Several copies, and one to the superintendent. Why should the child be penalized because the parents can't get their act together for thirty seconds to sign a damn paper? Because that's the only way some people can be persuaded to do much of anything. Life is hard. What if some parents don't LIKE some of these rules? Enroll your overprivileged kid somewhere else then, losers.

Where should these kids be removed to? To be perfectly honest, I don't care. Just get them away from the good kids. Don't good kids have rights, too? I'm sick and tired of disruptive kids having the most rights. SICK AND TIRED of it. It's long past time to give the majority of attention and all things positive to kids who choose to behave properly and kids who want to learn.

This is why most teachers who leave while still young, leave. They're not paid enough to put up with this crap. Nobody is.

I taught public school for 26 years and my salary peaked out at 49,300. After 26 years. It became sooo not worth it. The constant disruptions, the constant expectations that certain kids would not be held accountable, the constant accusations of favoritism and wrongdoing and the 23-minute lunch at 10:30 a.m. and the study hall with 48 non-participatory boys, many of whom had to sit on the floor because the room was too small for that many desks, the indignant parents who demanded. . . actually, demanded ANYTHING. Nice people do not DEMAND. And if someone is DEMANDING an exception, he/she is not a nice person.

When teachers walk out the door, they don't usually do it because they hated teaching. They do it because the peripherals made it impossible to be a teacher. In some schools, administrators don't even call their instructors "teachers" any more. It's "facilitators" now. That's because we are no longer allowed to really teach. We spend most of our time trying to maintain order in overcrowded rooms full of disruptive kids who don't want to be there and don't want to learn and don't intend to allow YOUR child to learn, either. Why do we put up with it? WHY?

I make not quite 16,000 now, and even though we're one sheet of cardboard away from living in a cardboard box under a bridge, I'm far, far better off. Why is that? Because teaching is what I love, and now I can do it without putting up with disruptive students or any kind of parent. And when a student gives us any kind of disruptive behavior at this level, we call the cops.

It took me almost a full year to 'catch on' to the fact that I no longer had to 'deal' with that kind of kid any more. After a certain level, disruptive behavior is no longer allowed. After a certain level, the facilitators no longer allow it on the facility.

Perhaps if our students were taught that lesson in fourth grade, we wouldn't have any obnoxious hoods keeping our good kids from learning in any of the higher grades.

In a perfect world.

Yes, I mean every word of this post. Some of you will find fault with the fact that I do not believe our nation's schools and our nation's children should be required to put up with disruptive and violent behaviors. After all, some of those kids can't help it. And so they can't. Get them away from the other kids because frankly, anything that prevents the good kids from learning doesn't belong there. Tolerance? I'm all for it. How about some of that for the good kids, too!

I do not believe that all of the disruptive students are Special Education material, either. Our Special Ed programs are usually excellent, taught by the most dedicated teachers of all, overcrowded, underappreciated, and too full of kids who don't belong there, which takes those teachers' time and attention away from the kids who DO belong there.

An IEP does not take the place of discipline. Sure, it's easier to claim that your child has Authority Defiance Syndrome than to require good behavior and enforce the rules yourself. Quick fix for Mom and Dad, huh.

We as a nation had better be very, very careful about what kind of behaviors we tolerate and even encourage with stupid reward systems for behaviors that ALL students should be practicing daily, because it's already happening that many people are trying to enter the workforce without the necessary skills. Some of these people were busy texting and checking their email on their cell phones instead of paying attention, sure; I hate those people, too. But some of these people graduated with good grades that mean almost nothing because their teachers were so busy trying to corral the wild animals in their classrooms and keep them from actually harming the good kids, so busy trying to placate parents who expected the schools to not only feed, clothe, and babysit before and after hours but also to teach the behaviors and manners that are actually the responsibility of the parents, that at the end of the long, long day, there simply wasn't time to teach anything. The schools should not be responsible for teaching your child to behave properly. If that is what you're counting on, forget it. It's not going to happen, parents. That's YOUR job. I know you're busy, but if you're too busy to raise your child, perhaps you'd best be thinking about letting somebody else do it, not the school.

I'll say this again: If an adult can afford cigarettes and beer and DOG FOOD, that adult should be able to buy socks and jeans and a hot lunch for his child. I'd say, the child should come before ANY of those other things. When those free-lunch, free books, free before-and-after-school-care parents would stand before me, reeking of smoke, whining with their beer-breath that they just plum couldn't afford no shoes for the child, cough cough cough reek, it was all I could do not to tell them off for being just generally bad, bad people. Bad people who bought cigarettes, beer, dog food, and shoes for themselves instead of taking decent care of their child.

There are no exaggerations in this post. If your child's classroom is a place of calm, peace, cool, and learning, please fall on your knees and thank God or your lucky stars, whichever one rows your boat, because your child's school is an exception.

I'm not kidding, either. I only wish I were.

*It's the only 'skinny' I have in my life; I use it whenever I can.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:33 PM | |


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