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           I’ve always been a teacher.  Even before I received my teaching credentials 34 years ago, I was the one who Mr. Wells asked to help Kim Hull learn how to do his story problems.  I always knew I’d become a real teacher some day because Kim told me I was the first one who ever  explained it to him in a way he could actually understand.  
    Now, I wasn’t ever one of “those who can’t, who teach,” and I always knew it.  My high-school guidance counselors had advised me not to go into education because I would be “wasting my brain.”  They suggested that due to my 98th percentile math scores, I should go into engineering.  But I was undaunted, because I knew that in reality I already was a teacher.  I just needed to go to school to get a piece of paper to make it official so I could get paid for it.  I was very clearly told that I wasn’t making the best financial choice that I could, but that didn’t matter in the least—I was out to change the world—one student at a time.
    I finished college in three years, and began teaching third grade in 1976 at the age of 21, and I’ve never looked back.  I found what all who become teachers know, that being a teacher is so much more than a job.  It’s always been my passion, my mission, even my identity.
    Being a great teacher came naturally to me.  Now that doesn’t mean it’s ever been an easy job.  I’ve always found it exhausting, challenging, frustrating, and very rewarding—in other words, a perfect job for somebody who needs their brain to be challenged in ways they could never imagine.  I went from being able to focus on only one or two things at a time, to being able to easily manage twenty or thirty on-going projects or ideas.  Over the years I’ve improved my creativity, flexibility, problem solving skills, and sense of humor.
    I’ve taught grades three through six, and felt very lucky that I never felt I was in a rut. I knew people who got burned out, but it honestly never happened to me.  I knew I was very blessed to find the perfect occupation.  I’ve changed how I do things in my classroom many times, incorporating new ideas, trying new things, always learning, always changing, and loving every minute of it.  I’ve always been told in every way that I’m a great teacher, but I honestly didn’t need to be told, because I could feel it. That is, until recently.

           Things started to change in education in Oregon about ten or fifteen years ago with a number of tax measures that created huge budget cuts.  I noticed programs such a band, art, and drug-abuse prevention being cut for lack of funds along with enrichment programs, swimming class, and all kinds of little things that we used to offer that could no longer be afforded.  Class sizes began to grow, and my class size averages went from the low to high twenties and then eventually into the thirties.
    All these things were sad and annoying, but they didn’t change how I felt about my job in the least.  I just worked harder to make my lessons even more creative, and added in as much enrichment as I possibly could on my own to make up for the cuts.  I spent thousands of dollars out of my own pocket to buy materials my school could no longer afford to buy.  I wasn’t about to let a little thing like budget cuts stop me from my mission.  The first time we cut school days in Oregon, and I had to take a several thousand dollar pay cut in the middle of a school year, it was a definite setback, but I never really thought it would become the norm.
    As my class sizes increased, so did the needs of my students.  Normally when I would teach something, I would have a handful of students who didn’t get it.  I rarely had kids I couldn’t get to make progress.  But as the classes got bigger, that began to change.  More students with special needs were being mainstreamed into my classroom.  I was getting kids in class who had been in America less than six months who spoke no English, with very little help or support.  I crazily began to take all kinds of classes, do research on how to reach kids with autism, ADD, emotional disturbances, limited English proficiency—you name it, I studied the best ways to overcome disadvantages.  I’ve always had a never-say-die attitude, so I worked my butt off to reach everyone in this increasingly diverse classroom with fewer and fewer resources.
    I also began to notice that lots of things that never had been my job before were suddenly added to my list of responsibilities.  A silly example, but very time consuming, was janitorial work.  Due to limited resources and constant budget cuts, I now had to devote my time to things like cleaning my own classroom, doing clerical work that used to be done for me by the front office, planning my curriculum instead of just my lessons, so many things I began to have trouble keeping up.  One year I started a list I called “Jobs Other People Gave Me,” but after adding 57 things to my list in less than a single year, I decided that it wasn’t really healthy for me to continue the list.
    Now mind you, that through all of this I still actually loved closing my door and teaching.  I continued telling myself that I had wanted a challenge, although at times I privately admitted to myself that maybe I would have liked a little less of a challenge.  But I still loved my job, I still got glowing reports from principals, parents, and especially kids.  That was what sustained me as things began to change.
    When No Child Left Behind came into effect, it didn’t affect me that much at first.  My class averages were always above where they needed to be, and I was still having good results, so I didn’t really worry about it much.  Philosophically, I knew I didn’t agree with focusing so much on test scores, but I could still keep my students’ scores where they needed to be by focusing on what my experience as a teacher had taught me was best.  I pretty much just worked on reaching each kid, pushing, encouraging, helping, inspiring, prodding, and let the test scores take care of themselves. I believed that great teaching overcame the over-emphasis on test scores, so I concentrated on great teaching instead.
    One thing that did bother me during that time was that it became acceptable to bash teachers, schools, and education in the media.  I wasn’t hearing it personally, but I didn’t like the way people were so ready to berate my passion.  Maybe because I was hearing good things on a personal level, I didn’t worry too much about it.  I just closed my door and taught my kids.
    Then the past few years a few of the buildings in our district didn’t meet their AYP (adequate yearly progress.)  The district began to look for ways to help these building to succeed.  The focus on test scores escalated to a crazy level.  The teachers in one of the elementary buildings in my district were told they could no longer teach anything besides reading, math, and science because those were the subjects that were tested.  Our building wasn’t ever told that specifically, but it was understood that we were to focus on practices that would improve our students’ test-taking skills.
    The district decided to implement required core instructional materials that were mandated to everyone.  Suddenly, the creativity of the job was being removed.  They wanted everybody to teach the same materials, the same way.  I’ve never been one to buck the system, so I began to wrack my brain for how to use these new materials and still keep the lessons interesting for my students.  
    At the same time, class sizes and special needs were growing.  The behavior classroom was closed and its students were mainstreamed into the regular classroom.  I tried to become an expert on dealing with anger issues.  I tried to learn how to help fifth graders with severe disabilities, limited mobility, and cognitive levels of very young children, all in my regular classroom now filled with 30-35 students.  My job became an even greater challenge than it had always been before, but still my attitude was to think “bring it on!”  I just couldn’t fathom the idea that my natural teaching ability wasn’t exactly what was needed to solve any and all challenges that came my way.
    Never once in the past 34 years of teaching did I ever want to quit.  I even told my husband that if we won the lottery, I’d keep teaching.  My students would just have all their own computers, art supplies galore, and any book we wanted to read as a class.
    So now I’m into my 35th year of teaching.  Last July my district had offered a $20,000 bonus to any teacher who could retire, in order to save money.  It struck me as odd that they’d want to get rid of experienced teachers.  I didn’t take it because I felt I’m not ready to retire.  It’s been such a big part of me forever, and I’m not ready to give it up yet.  Besides I’m only 55, and even though I’ve been teaching so long, I’m just barely old enough to retire.
            But then one Thursday, on the eighth day of my 35th year of teaching, I suddenly thought for the very first time ever, “I don’t want to be a teacher anymore.”  It’s so weird how it just came over me like that.  I don’t know if it’s like the challenges in Survivor where they keep adding water until the bucket finally tips over and the slow leak of problems finally made my bucket tip over.  Or maybe this is how it happens for all older teachers.  
    It wasn’t a single thing that gave me this feeling.  I’m hoping it doesn’t last.  Maybe it was the severely autistic boy who showed up at my door the first day with no notice, but I don’t really think so.  Maybe it was the rigid schedule the principal passed out for everybody to be doing the same subject at the same time of day, or the new basal reader we have to use that we aren’t allowed to call a basal reader.  Maybe it’s the look in my student’s eyes when we’re reading the newly required dry textbook when I’m used to wild and crazy discussions about amazing novels.  
Maybe it’s that for the first time, our school didn’t meet AYP because two few English Language Developing students in the entire school didn’t pass their reading benchmarks.  
             When I heard this, I instantly thought of the two English Language Learners in my class who hadn’t passed their reading tests last year and how unfair I thought it was that they even counted on our test scores when they came to our school in January and were absent at least twice a week from that point on.  I was wondering how I could possibly have gotten them to benchmark level in three days a week for three months. I was thinking how if only those two students hadn’t counted on our scores, we would’ve met AYP as a school.  When I mentioned it to my principal, she just said there are no excuses.  We aren’t allowed to have any excuses.  We have to get kids to the level they need to be no matter what the circumstances.  I thought of the little boy I had with an IQ of 87 who could barely read.  I thought of the little girl in a wheelchair who’d had 23 operations on tumors on her body in her eleven years, and the girl who moved from Mexico straight into my class and learned to speak English before my eyes, but couldn’t pass the state test.  Somehow it doesn’t feel like making excuses to acknowledge that they had good reason not to pass their benchmarks.
            Maybe it was the e-mail I got saying that the department of education in Oregon has raised the cut scores again this year by six or seven points per grade level, even though they just raised them a couple of years ago.  I found out that if they would have used these new cut scores last year, over half of the students in grades 3-8 who passed their benchmarks wouldn’t have passed.  That led to a realization that as a school we have very little chance of meeting our adequate yearly progress this year, but of course I’m not allowed to say that because there are no excuses. It’s hard not to feel discouraged.
            Maybe it was one of the two parents who contacted me in the first few days of school to tell me that their child doesn’t particularly love my program this year.   I’m so not used to that.  I’ve always had kids achieving highly and loving my class.  I’m just not sure how I can use the mandated materials in the required time periods, focusing on the required skills and still get kids to really love it.
            Maybe it’s the fact that I lost a third of my retirement when they reformed our Public Employee Retirement System a few years back and now I keep reading about how they want to slash it even more because of the greedy teacher unions and how this is the main reason for the budget problems in our state.
Maybe it’s that I haven’t gotten a real raise in a really really long time, or that we had to cut eight days again this year to solve our state’s budget problems.  So I’m taking a big hit again, and nobody seems to notice or care.
            Anyway, whatever the reason, for the first time in 34 years it hit me, I don’t want to be a teacher any more.  I want to sit on a rocking chair on my porch and drink tea instead.  Maybe if they offer $20,000 for me to retire next year, I’ll take it.  It’s so weird because never in my wildest imagination did I think I’d feel this way. I wonder if I’ll still feel this way when I close my classroom door tomorrow.  I sure hope not because it makes me really sad.

Originally posted to thalli1 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 09:18 AM PST.

Also republished by Educator Voices and Daily Kos Classics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The War on Public Education (92+ / 0-)

    The plutocrats decided long ago that good public schools are a luxury that should no longer be provided for the peasantry. They'll allow us to have chains of stripped-down, low quality private schools, WalSchools maybe, but the system we grew up with is to be destroyed. My wife teaches, she could well have written this, and I've been watching the destruction of public education and the hostility towards teachers as it has escalated over the years. Crying shame really, but it looks like they've won. All the teacher-bashing propaganda has had its effect on the people and mainstream Democrats won't stand up for public education. They know not what they do.

  •  I hear a difference (60+ / 0-)

    between "I don't want to be a teacher anymore" and

    I don't want to teach.

    That's where the passion lies, and, as you pointed out, when your day is filled with so much more than 'teaching', you lose that spark that brought you into this profession.

    I have felt as you do often.  I am now counting the years to retirement- and as a preschool teacher with Head Start- I am wondering if that year will come sooner or later.

    I agree with indycam. 34 years is a long run. Hold you head up high and just change your perspective.

    Soon you can say, "I taught".  And be proud.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 09:48:15 AM PST

    •  So right, thanks to the great teachers (8+ / 0-)

      in my life, I am doing well in life.

      Especially my entry-level college math professor. I went to him and told him that I didn't understand. He patiently explained things to me.

      I eventually got  "A" in calculus and trigonometry and linear algebra....

      My favorite quote about teachers:

      "A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank...but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child." -- Forest Witchcraft

      "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." ~ Thomas Paine

      by third Party please on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:59:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I also have taught 30+years (47+ / 0-)

    I left teaching early for the very reasons you have listed.  

    I'm retired at 65 and now I volunteer one afternoon each week at my former school.

    I don't do the testing, paper work, faculty meetings, crowd control, janitorial work and those many conforming mindless actions that I was increasingly expected to do as a paid teacher.l

    I see five at risk  students in half hour blocks and to support and facilitate their educational adjustment.

    With your gifts and background, you do not have to leave behind the joy of helping children learn, and as a volunteer you can do it on your own terms.  

    Thank you for this much needed diary that tells it like it is.  

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't.

    by crystal eyes on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 10:10:39 AM PST

  •  My sister feels the (40+ / 0-)

    same way.  She loves the teaching part - but all the added responsibilities, the bureaucracy, and also being unsupported by the administration and unappreciated by society - mostly driven by Republicans and the media - the load has become too great.  

    This is a concerted effort to make public schools fail - by overburdening the teachers, cutting support, doubling class sizes - they can then point to the school system and say it is failing when they are the cause of it.  Kind of like they do by saying government doesn't work - vote for me and I will show you.

  •  I quit over homopohobic comments (46+ / 0-)

    I taught for nearly 15 years and recently quit because my h.s. refused to suspend a student who called me (WARNING Homophobic comments) "What are you, a fuckin' faggot lover?" He said this after I told he must go to the asst. principal's office for calling another student a "fag."

    So the assistant principal refused to suspend the kid. I didn't think I could teach at that h.s. anymore because there were no consequences for a proverbial fuck you from a student. Also, who wants to work in a school system that is so hostile to gay people?

    Not that it matters, but I am a heterosexual. I just think homophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry have no place in our school system.

    It is also my observation — albeit unscientific — that kids that are the biggest homophobes often are self-loathing closeted gays. Just sayin...

    AND BTW, there's nothing wrong w/ it. Being closeted and self-loathing, yes, but gay, no.

  •  Government Is Proposing a Bunch of Things to Help (12+ / 0-)

    For example:

    Cutting taxes
    More competition among students
    Charter schools
    Busting teacher unions

    I hope some of our experienced teachers hang on a while longer to see these ideas give fruit.

    Find me fast on Daily Kos by following me.

    by bink on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 10:20:39 AM PST

    •  Charter schools are a crock! Look at the scores (13+ / 0-)

      the students make in charter settings ---- at all the scores --- not just a few cherry-picked schoools and you will quickly find Charter schools students score significantly lower than in the public schools in thier neighborhood.  Since Charter schools aren't held to the same high standard public schools have, this little dirty secret is buried in the Charter School hoop-la. Unqualified teachers, less requirements, and no standards are not an improvement for education.

      •  Charter schools cherry pick their students (10+ / 0-)

        and they still can't cut it

      •  As somebody who teachers in a charter in PA (0+ / 0-)

        We have to admit by lottery (we can't screen), we have to operate off of a 68% per student funding formula, we have to make AYP the same way any other public school in PA does.  I know charters in DE can screen and that is BS and shouldn't be allowed anywhere if they're going to get public dollars. Charters should have some simple rules to operate:

        1) Open admission rules based on lottery for number of open spots.
        2) Only be run by teacher groups, parent groups, or non-profits.
        3) Charters must adhere to all public school laws in terms of testing, AYP, etc.
        4) Charters would recieve close to the 100% per student instructional spending per student sending district.
        5) At formation, a charter school carries the same bargaining unit from the district in which it is chartered. This includes the same terms and conditions of work related to school year length, school day length, benefits, etc.

        Under this format any charter that is created is truly designed to be an educational "choice" rather than a union busting underemployment factory. This would also reduce the need to have private groups "donate" to a charter to artificially pump up its coffers as it pushes a bad place to work.

    •  you're being sarcastic, right? nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, Dirtandiron
  •  My daughter... (31+ / 0-)

    is a freshman Education major. She is SO excited to be a teacher. She knows nothing of the politics and hate that swirls around teaching. And I don't have the heart to tell her. She also scores in the 98th percentile on Math.

    It breaks my heart that right out of the gate, half the country will despise her, simply for being a public school teacher.

    I'm struggling. I wonder if I should talk to her. Try to change her mind. But that just feels SO wrong to me.

    Sigh. She would be an amazing teacher.

    •  Just make sure (25+ / 0-)

      she knows there is unrest and uncertainty in the profession now.  With her gifts she should double major or at least get a concentration in another field so if needed she can return and complete another degreee.  You need to prepare her for other eventualities.

      And she's good at appearing sane, I just want you to know. Winwood/Capaldi

      by tobendaro on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 10:48:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re (23+ / 0-)

      I strongly suggest your daughter drop the education major immediately and instead major in math, engineering, physics or something like that with actual subject matter expertise.

      Education in itself is a terrible major and your daughter is doing herself a grave disservice by majoring in that alone. If she can do a subject matter major she can always EITHER teach OR choose another path. Education alone with no other skill set is a bad place to be.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 10:54:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is the exact advice my I got Freshman year (19+ / 0-)

        in the late 60s.

        I was going to be an earth science teacher.  I went to a commuter public university that did not have many graduate programs, so there were no TAs in the labs - all were taught by the regular professors.  By an unlikely circumstance, I already had the lab book for the Geology 101 lab session, and the professor sent everyone else off to the bookstore to get the specified lab book.  So that left the two of us to chat.

        He found out I was intending to major in earth science.  He mentored me and pointed out that with an earth science major, all I could do was teach.  With a geology major I could still teach if I wanted to, but I could do so many other jobs.  So, I graduated at the top of my class in geology (there were only 10 to 12 of us at any time in a university of 30,000) and went to both Michigan and Wisconsin for grad school - then among the best in the field.  I spent about 10 years in oil and gas and the rest in environmental, investigating and cleaning up contaminated soil and groundwater.

      •  Ditto, Ditto, and Ditto. Even if your daughter (14+ / 0-)

        makes it to getting a teacher certification, in my state (Indiana) she would have to work 3-5 years as a teaching assistnt {at minimum wage) to get a teaching position.  She would then be on probation for the next 5 years, on the bubble every year for cuts.  Teaching in Indiana is not an option if you have to pay for your own college tution.

      •  strongly agree (7+ / 0-)

        Double major or major in something else and take the required coursework for a teaching certificate.

        I have several friends and acquaintances who got B.A.'s and later returned to school for education coursework. Their undergrad degrees were in everything from art to economics. I'm sure there are some worthy education programs out there somewhere but every single one of them said the education courses they took were a joke. To say the classes lacked rigor is an understatement.

        Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

        by Joe Bob on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 03:05:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  My own daughter... (27+ / 0-)

      has been teaching math and science in an 80% free and reduced lunch middle school for eight years now.  I had the same feeling when she first went into education as you are feeling now.  I didn't discourage her from teaching, and now sometimes I wish I would have.  She's struggling too even though she's a wonderful teacher. She too had a strong math background and could've gone in any direction she chose.  I can't believe I'm even writing these words, but maybe I should've guided her in a different direction.

    •  You should definitely talk to her! (10+ / 0-)

      Urge her to register with your local district and do a little substitute teaching while she's in school. She likely has a day or more per week without classes (or can arrange her schedule for this next semester) that she could devote to checking out a few real life situations before she makes a final decision.

      Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

      by RJDixon74135 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 11:52:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  this is great advice (5+ / 0-)

        Even if she cannot substitute teach, she can almost certainly volunteer in the classroom, so she can see the challenges that an experienced teacher faces.

        I also would encourage an undergraduate major in mathematics, followed by a one-year masters in education while she earns her teaching credential.

        •  I think most education majors do some (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Bob, jdld, elfling, ladybug53, Mr Robert

          intern teaching, but as long as another teacher is there, it's not the same.

          One of my actual assignments, not subbing, was in a mental hospital.  I only had ten kids at a time seated around one table. Someone above my pay grade, I'm not sure who, required there to also be two big, strong psych techs trained in physical restraint in the room with us at all times, but the kids were great. They were polite to me and, I believe, happy to learn everything I taught them.  They never needed their "special" skills.  In fact, the only time I could have used those guys, I was subbing in a school in the wealthiest part of the city I live in. The kids were so competitive, they were frankly aggressive toward each other. It was the only time I ever had to break up a fight in the classroom, and I observed the same kind of aggressive behavior in them before and after school.  

          Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

          by RJDixon74135 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:13:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  She needs to sub. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jdld, ladybug53, fiddler crabby, Mr Robert

      That will help her make up her mind, at least about teaching in this country.

      If she thinks she might want to teach overseas, see if you can find a good education program you can afford in Canada.  A teaching credential from a Commonwealth country is highly prized overseas -- far more than our own now.

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

      by Noor B on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 12:28:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you think she would be an amazing teacher... (13+ / 0-)

      .... don't discourage her.  Support her.

      I'm a young, new teacher (I've been at it for a month now!) and believe me, there's a difference between being new and being naive.  I have no doubt that I'm looking at a long, uphill battle...that will probably go on for my entire career.  I’m positive things will get worse before they get better.  Whatever.  Bring it.  My sleeves are rolled up.

       I'm extremely proud to be fighting the good fight.  I'm getting a good taste of what the diarist is talking about --being required to not only be a teacher, but also a special education expert, anger management specialist, janitor, surrogate parent figure for ostensibly abandoned teens,  ringside ref, narcotics agent, reading and math intervention specialist, IT/network tech, etc... all for under $400 a week... with $30k in student loans and a family to support...  It's not easy, I don't expect it to ever become easy.  We’re poor, but we have what we need and we’ve never been happier.

      Why all the happiness?  Because I know of no other field I could possibly work in where I can make such a positive impression in the lives of so many.  The fact that I'm part of the lazy-whiner-populace-scapegoat-du-jour only makes me that much prouder of the work I do.  I come home (usually after a ten or eleven-hour day) tired, but very pleased to be able to report on the good things I’ve seen, the progress and personal growth of kids that others have given up on.  This satisfaction is contagious.

      I resent the attitude of "oh, my daughter is in the 98th percentile so it's a waste of her intellect."  I've always placed in the 99th percentile in English and the 95th percentile in math, and I certainly don't feel any shortage of cognitive stimulation.  This profession needs the best and the brightest minds it can find, and if a teacher is doing their job correctly, there will never be a time when their intellectual capacity is under-utilized.  As a teacher, your daughter might not have the financial comfort and wellbeing that most people wish for their children, but she will have the immense satisfaction of being part of the solution to America's growing problems.

      The best way out is always through- Robert Frost

      by naturalamericancj on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 12:40:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tell her to follow her muse.... (9+ / 0-)

      We need gifted teachers. The current web of anger and hate will pass....

      Her love of teaching will carry her far and we need her to serve the next generation.

      Gov. Mark Dayton made a speech the other day. He pointed out that it was wrong to vilify the people who work for you just because they work in the public sector. That sentiment will eventually be heard.

    •  half the country will not despise her n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
    •  WOW (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you so much for all of the responses. After I first posted this, no one responded and I decided no one would. What a nice surprise to find all of these responses.

      Last semester (her first semester) she was having a very tough time adjusting to being away at college. I posted a similar comment in a teacherken diary, and he said definitely talk to her. Well I couldn't then. She was already struggling too much. She is doing much, much better now, thank goodness.

      You all have given me a lot to think about. And naturalamericancj, she feels a lot like you. She really wants to make a difference in people's lives. That's ALL she talks about. She does volunteer work whenever she can. She has talked about school counselor or social work as other possibilities.

      This is hard for me but I do really appreciate everyone's thoughts.

      And about the "smart" thing. I know a young woman who got a perfect score on the ACT, and she has been teaching elementary school for about 5 yrs. now. Her husband is a doctor doing his residency. And she is very happy.

    •  WOW (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you so much for all of your responses. I just wrote a rather long comment and it apparently got eaten by DK4. Grrr. I'll talk to her. Not sure what all I will say, but I will talk to her.

      thalli1, you're killing me. ;)

      I won't try to discourage her, I will try to inform her of the situation and let her decide. Last semester I posted a similar comment in a teacherken diary. He said talk to her. I didn't dare then, because she was having a terrible time adjusting to being away at college. (which was a shock because she was very outgoing in high school) She is doing much better now, though, so I guess I need to have a talk. :(

  •  Tipped Recc'ed and shared on FB (16+ / 0-)

    Personalizing what is going on is critical and you have done a lovely job.  In you I see my own very different tale of working for the Government.  They keep cutting us, freezing our hiring, furloughing us and when we still succeed they say that we are overstaffed or we could have never met the benchmarks they set.

    How ironic is it that in meeting the demands, one fails.

    "If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."- J. Danforth Quayle

    by Sychotic1 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 10:25:36 AM PST

  •  Just shared this on Facebook. (17+ / 0-)

    It is a story that everyone in this country needs to read.

  •  I Understand and (7+ / 0-)

    I'm very sorry for you and your potential students, too,   If I were a teacher right now I'd be giving up, too.

  •  If this isn't solid proof (27+ / 0-)

    that there is truly a war being waged on public education then I don't know what is.

    This whole "budget cuts, we're broke" meme has always mystified me.  Sure, I get that during a recession revenue will be down, but we've been dealing with this for over 20 years now.  Always budget cuts, always broke...

    I've been broke a good part of my life, with some prosperity here and there, but my attitude is that if I don't have enough money to pay for necessary things then I have to make more money.  I think most people are like that.

    If I lived the way our government has been for the past 20 years, I'd be on the street with no food or clothing.

    This is such utter bullshit.  This diary breaks my heart.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 10:30:05 AM PST

  •  Congrats on... (14+ / 0-)

    being such a great teacher and impacting so many lives.

    Life is a journey whether you choose a path, or the path chooses you.

    by Dopusopus on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 10:44:57 AM PST

  •  our district is offering 15,000 (53+ / 0-)

    and our state may modify requirements for retirement such that if I don't retire this year I would be force to work until I am 71 in order to get all the retirement benefits I would theoretically be earning and paying for in the intervening 6 years -  if they don't change the rules again.

    I am seriously thinking about it.

    Like you I have probably always been a teacher, only I didn't know it.   When I was young I taught those younger than me how to play football and baseball so we had enough for our neighborhood games.

    When I was in high school, I taught a younger kid cello, I tutored my next door neighbor (from a Catholic school) and a classmate in Physics.

    Even in the years spent in business and government work before I became a full-time public school teacher in the mid-90s, I often was involved with teaching others, sometimes officially as part of my jobs, sometimes informally.

    I love teaching.  

    I love my students, even when they drive me nuts.

    To give up teaching would be in a way to die, to admit that the central purpose of my life was no longer possible.

    I have wrestled with the issue for several years, ever since i first became eligible when I turned 62 to take my small pension and perhaps do something else.

    My pay has been cut.  The size of my classes has increased.  I have been asked to take on more leadership roles.  Our pensions are being restricted.  The students, now a product of many years of NCLB, arrive each year less prepared for serious work.

    I look around, and wonder if I am being honest in teaching them as if they will have a future, economically or politically.

    I am saddened.

    I am angered.

    So far I still try to want to be a teacher.

    But now I really do not know if I want to do this anymore, either.

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 10:47:19 AM PST

    •  Wow, teacherken responded to me! (33+ / 0-)

      I can't tell you how many times I've read your blogs and been inspired.  My husband is an AP history and government teacher in a Catholic high school and has enjoyed so many of your posts.  He especially loved one that was about your conflict in teaching government and basically feeling out of integrity with yourself about it.  My husband has felt that way too.  He wonders how he can in good conscience keep teaching about the ideals of our government when it's gone so far away from them. When I told my husband today that I published my diary his first response was, "Did teacherken respond to you?"  You don't realize it, but you've helped us both a lot.  

      •  I am limited in the time I have to read (11+ / 0-)

        the work of others, although I try to. Often I can do no more than tip and/or recommended, in part because I read every comment on my diaries -  at least here, I did not not bother at

        You had a thoughtful diary to which I thought I could contribute with my comment

        My commenting is not that big a deal.  Have confidence in your own words.

        Thanks for sharing them.  I posted on several facebook pages and tweeted about this diary.

        And thanks for your kind words about my work.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 11:33:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  How sad that you are being forced to consider (10+ / 0-)

      retiring for those reasons, while you still have the energy and desire to make a difference as a teacher.  Regardless of how you move forward, I'm sure you will continue to make a difference in a lot of people's lives.

    •  When you, of all people, are this discouraged (11+ / 0-)

      it is a very, very bad sign.  You've been indefatigable, fighting the good fight.  I am so sad to see this.

      I love teaching, when I'm allowed to do it.  But it's not often that I walk into a classroom that allows it, since I'm a sub.  I had four days of it in my field early last month, and once I got control of the kids, I had a blast.

      This is probably a bad place to say this, but I am searching for a private school teaching job.  My reasons?  There's a glut of younger, certified teachers in my field who do not have the weight of specialized graduate training in history.  I would come in at the top of the pay scale, and all of them would come in at a salary several thousand dollars below me.  Most of the schools I'm looking at have strong commitments to social justice and community service, and do offer scholarships and financial aid to needy, gifted students.  And truthfully, I'm better suited to gifted ed, as my niece and nephew were considered gifted as children -- and we had a blast doing all kinds of crazy projects together way back when.

      But I also have a plan for giving back.  My dog has turned out to have a temperament that's suitable for therapy dog training.  My local association has a patnership program set up with the regional library system for reading remediation.  Basically, get the kids to read out loud to the dog!  What they've found is that kids who won't read out loud in class or before an adult will read out loud to a dog.  

      So, that's what I'm trying to achieve right now.  Am I unhappy about this reality?  Yeah, actually, I am -- but I'm going to make the best lemonade out of this situation that I possibly can.

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

      by Noor B on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 12:47:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I could take a Maryland pension (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Noor B, Dirtandiron, Mr Robert

        and probably get a teaching job in a private school or in a DC public charter, some of which are pretty good.

        The problem is one of timing -  I would rather stay where I am if it is possible.  If I begin the search process, I will be calling in some favors, and I cannot do that unless I am willing to accept a job if offered.  I am thinking long and hard about that.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:19:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ditto everything you wrote. (22+ / 0-)

    My school too failed because two few students in Special Education made enough progress. They made progress mind you, just not enough for the demon gods of NCLB.
     All the bashing of teachers from people who wouldn't know the first thing about the profession is slowly killing me and I think everyday about what I might be able to do instead of teach.

    •  "Do you want fries with that" is a valuable tool (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, bkamr, thalli1

      for those wanting to leave all you teacher preparation behind,  A waitress in a high end resturant can earn more on the weekend than in the classroom all weelk.

    •  My school did not "FAIL." And our children (25+ / 0-)

      didn't either!!  

      I am sick of it.  When will people wake up and challenge the damn tests and the benchmarks that the testing industry is setting?

      No.  We. did. not. fail.

      The real story is that the politicians and their plutocrat masters picked up the goal posts and heartlessly moved them to a place where our mildly mentally disabled children will NEVER be able to go!

      Reality:  Our 8th graders with IQ's below 70 are NEVER going to pass the algebra section of the NCLB tests, and we will forever more be labeled a "failing school."  Starting next year, they can start sanctioning us!

      It is only a matter of a couple of years before they will have moved the goal posts to the point where every school in America will be a "failure."

      And, it is a LIE.

      It is as heartless, and cruel, and insane as demanding that a school be able to make a blind children's sight improve every year or a disabled child run further and faster every year ... or you are a failure ... and no excuses.  And, if I have to spend another 2 weeks reading a test to a weeping OCD child, or a self-stimming autistic child because they are so traumatized being taken off their regular schedule, I don't know if I'll be able to stay a teacher, either.  

      I don't hate testing, because I don't want to be held accountable or know how my students are doing.  I hate THIS system of testing, because it is insanely dysfunctional. I hate it because the benchmarks make no sense, and it is being used to ruin our public school system -- not make them better.

      They made us send out letters calling ourselves a "failure!"
      Never mind that our school is one of the top 5 in every set of tests (EXPLORE, IOWA, KCCT) even including the private academies, and our state NAEP scores have us tied for 1st in the nation -- even though we are only above Mississippi when it comes to poverty.

      Us a failure?  Teachers like the diarist a failure?  Our MMD 8th graders who can't pass an algebra test -- failures?

      NO.  Just no.

      The people who are bashing teachers, who have me trying to run a "world-class" science classroom on $2.50 per child per year, who think my $451.27 a week take home pay is TOO MUCH, who are hiding behind croccodile tears about the deficit and their grandchildren so they can pay NOTHING at all, the people who are accepting the Testing Industry's 3 card monte con game with testing ... all of these people are the failures.

      If the public continues to accept the loss of incredible teachers like the diarist and teacherken, then it's the public who will have failed ... not the teachers, not the students.  

      I can only hope that people will wake up and realize that it is way past time to stop bashing teachers, and for God sakes, please, lend us a hand and some respect.

      whew.  Thank you for the diary.  Please, stay with your students.  We need people like you on our faculties so badly.  Maybe this will pass.  Maybe.

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:05:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The tests are designed to give failing scores (6+ / 0-)

        First, the people who make the tests sell tests and they sell curriculum. If everything is fine, there is less market to sell tests and curriculum.

        If all the kids passed, why would we waste millions on these tests? To be "relevant," they have to show differences between kids and between schools.

        If there's a question on the test that 90% of the kids get right, no one will say, "Hooray! Our kids nailed this concept! The kids are learning and the teachers are teaching and the schools are doing their job."

        No, instead they take that question off the test, regardless of the objective quality or difficulty of the question. If most of the kids get it correct, it's no longer worth asking.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 04:25:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Please don't take this the wrong way, it's (0+ / 0-)

      a serious question..

      I believe you are at least the third poster on this thread to mention "two few students" making enough progress.

      Is that a simple thinko, or is it a term of art?

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:37:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I figured she meant (0+ / 0-)

        "two students too few."

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 04:29:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It can be two as in the number 2. (7+ / 0-)

        Most people outside the profession do not understand that a school is declared a "failing" school if any sub-group within the school does not make the yearly progress benchmark.  And, that benchmark is being ratcheted up each year.

        So, an entire school of 1000+ students can be labeled a "failing" school if a VERY small number of students do not meet the benchmark.  Which may seem like it makes sense -- high expectations and all that -- but does anyone realize that we have mainstreamed all students into the public school system?

        That's what is happening to our school.  Three of our 8th grade special ed students did not pass the math exam.  Specifically, we had 3 MMD students who failed the algebra section.  So, our whole school is a "failure," according to NCLB and the testing industry.  

        We had to send out letters to all the parents saying we are a failure, this year, and since they are raising the standard again next year, and we are never going to be able to get children with IQ's below 70 able to pass the algebra section ... I guess we are pretty much doomed.

        Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

        by bkamr on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 04:39:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's the No Child Left Behind law. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The law mandates that schools MUST have all children on grade level by 2014.  100% of the students.  On grade level as determined by academic test scores in reading, math and science.  

        To get there, states mapped out their targets toward 100%, ramping up each couple years so that by 2014 (as in the law) everybody will be at 100% on grade level.  
        If your school doesn't meet the target, then you have not made "Adequate Yearly Progress," (AYP) and you are a "Failing" school.  Sanctions begin.  

        Problem is, NO school will be able to ever get to 100% since every public school takes all kids - those with impaired learning, those speaking no English, those whose parents care not a fig about school and whether their kids attend or not, etc etc etc.  

        But the Law, and the press, and the politicians grandstand about the failing schools and the failing teachers!

        •  Plus each school has a secondary target (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dunvegan, ggwoman55

          that must be met -- our system chose attendance out of the limited choices.  If 15% of our students in the target grades miss more than 15 days of school, WE are a failing school.

          WE - the school, the administration, the teachers, are the "failures."  Not the PARENTS who are the ones not sending their kids to school.  Not the parents who can't bother to get up in the morning and get their kids up and ready.  The parents who let their kids play around all day and not come, the parents who are up partying all night and too drunk or whatever to bother.

          Can you start to see now why the teachers are so upset?!  And troubled that President Obama and his Secretary of Education are not doing anything to remedy this????

      •  Your question is answered by others. (6+ / 0-)

        But yes, I meant two students. Out of a school of 1,400 we made every subgroup (racial, economic, I dunno-hair color?) but the Special Education students needed two more kids to make the goal and they didn't so the entire school is labeled as failing. It's such a con and the public doesn't know. When a school is labeled as failing it really isn't but the right has drummed up so much hatred against teachers/unions that people think we are complaining about being held accountable and just don't want to do our jobs.

        •  Not a teacher, but it seems like some of the (0+ / 0-)

          initiatives over the past few decades -- including mainstreaming -- have not been in the best interests of teachers or students.  The end result has been non-functional classrooms where good students can't meet their potential and students with needs can't get the attention they need.

          No Child Left Behind actually sounds like a good idea to me -- IF the classrooms are rational and end results take into account the nature of the students being taught.  AND if it had been followed up and tweaked as was the original intention.

          One important mission of public schools, and an important reason why they exist, is to impart a common set of knowledge required for a functioning society.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 05:20:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This diary breaks my heart, (21+ / 0-)

    and I know how the diarist feels. There are days when despair is very close to breaking through to the surface.

    I've been teaching about twenty years at a community college, and we're seeing the same kind of thing.

    Though I have tenure now -- which allows me to protect my students from much of the current insanity -- I predict it'll be gone in a couple of years.

    I'm 53 years old and had hoped to work right up until I keel over in the traces. I love teaching and can't imagine doing anything else.

    But if tenure goes and I'm faced with making unethical compromises, it won't be long before I'll be out.

  •  You described it perfectly (27+ / 0-)

    I retired two years ago, after 20+ years of teaching. Like you I loved teaching. I loved teaching 6th grade science, and was fortunate enough to be picked to finish my career in an innovative public charter middle school. I did guided inquiry science lessons, and thanks to winning some $17,000 in grants was also able to engage my students in environmental science field studies. One year we made daily weather measurements and tested for ozone. Other years we got down in the creek behind the school and caught aquatic insect larvae with nets and tested water for pollutants. One day as we walked back to the classroom carrying buckets of critters to examine under microscopes in the lab, one of my kids exclaimed " I didn't know this was what scientists did!"

    However, like you , I saw all of the creativity be sucked out by the testing mania. I think the low point for me was when our outstanding District Science Director, who had a great deal of actual classroom experience teaching science, and who had brought in wonderful guided inquiry science materials and teacher trainings in their use, was forced out because she disagreed with the superintendent's idea to use test preparation workbooks instead to prepare the students for the upcoming state science test. She was replaced with a more compliant director, whose science background and classroom experience inferior to put it kindly.  It didn't take long for the curriculum to head downhill.

    Added to that were the straws that broke the camels back- budget cuts that meant fewer custodians and dirty classrooms, and the district turning the air conditioning off after 4 PM to save on electricity. The district wouldn't pay for an elevator for our building- we were a charter school so students had the option of attending their home school which exempted us from IDEA apparently. The solution was for us to play musical classrooms every few years, moving teachers instead of students. Unfortunately this meant literally carrying boxes of science equipment up the stairs myself.

    I'll always be a teacher, but now I do my teaching with my grandchildren, or volunteering in local schools. These days, I'm loving sitting on my porch and drinking a well-earned cup of tea.

    Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

    by loblolly on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 11:28:46 AM PST

    •  Do you mind saying what state youre in? (0+ / 0-)

      I completely sympathize with your post. The creativity sucking has become a national disease. Duncan has assisted in spreading it... or should I say Obama. And many go along Dems. The GOP were just waiting for their agenda to get the big green light Obama has given it, and voila, bipartisan success story...

      There is no party of no on education policy. The many things decried in this diary have been pushed forward by both parties, including the austerity measures - but also the agenda on how to teach, how to be evaluated (test test test) etc. While there is more Dem supportive fuzzy lipservice given, the actions are very GOP-aligned - the real deal is lockstep implementation for lockstep performance by underpaid non union protected disrespected teachers.

      Btw, all this retirement, early retirement, is a cause for champagne corks to pop by both parties, which I feel like just calling one party and stopping the bs.

      The neoliberal wet dream is lots of interchangeable low paid young teachers who can be more easily persuaded to support ever more desecration of union gains and corporate edicts of how best to teach. When, after a few years, these overwhelmed teachers cant hack the stress and lack of reward, on many levels, all the better for the neoliberals -  the still newish teachers quit and hiring at the lowest rungs begins anew.

      It is disgusting. Folks need to wake up and make the WI protests look like child play.

      I hope a lot of teachers will show up the the Save Our Schools protest in DC this summer.

      Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

      by NYCee on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 10:15:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You sound like my mom (27+ / 0-)

    She taught high school for her entire life and loved it.  Kids loved her too--I lost track of the number of ex-students who would drop by her house to tell her how much she helped them get started in their careers.

    Then she called me up about 2 years ago and just said "I've had it with all the BS".  I don't want to do this anymore.  And when the school offered a retirement package, she took it.

    When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher, just like my mom.  But growing up and watching her and how she was treated and what this country thought she was worth, I realized that there was no way  I would ever become a teacher.  The ratio of what is expected from you and the s*** that gets thrown your way compared to what you get paid is terrible.  In fact, I would argue it's one of the least appreciated jobs in our country.

    So I went into a different field.  By my 3rd year I was making more money a year than my mom ever had, despite the fact that she had more education and 30 years more experience than I did.  It just hammered it home to me--in our society, because of the rules we have put into place, choosing to be a teacher is a poor career choice.  You get overworked, underappreciated, underpaid, and then on top of that you get demonized by the media and often times by your own community too.

    And if you think about it, because of that we are destroying our future.  Why would anyone with opportunities CHOOSE to be a teacher now?  I'm where I am in life because I had good teachers, but where is our next generation of good teachers going to come from if we continue treating them like this?

    •  Regarding this: (12+ / 0-)
      And if you think about it, because of that we are destroying our future.

      I had a conversation during lunch one day with another sub, a green-card-bearing Frenchman, who said that the Chinese and Al Qaeda are laughing at us because of what we are doing to our own education system and our own children.  He's correct, of course -- we, as a country, have in relatively short order destroyed our entire system of public education.  The children of today's school students will pay for this all their lives.  Just watch.

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

      by Noor B on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 12:55:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  career choices (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, JuliaAnn, ladybug53, RainyDay, thalli1

      The career options for women were a lot different 30-40 years ago. Yes there were trailblazers in every field but teaching, nursing and, later, social work provided the paths of least resistance. That's a big reason so many bright and educated women found themselves teaching in public schools. I think a lot of us now in our 40s and older have sexism to thank for the great educations we got.

      Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

      by Joe Bob on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 03:22:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is very on point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        i dont think very many people realize that for women very few job options existed so you got the cream of the crop in teaching.

        I was talking with someone who said that years ago you could get awesome secretaries, but these days it isnt nearly as easy because women who would have been locked out of better jobs in the past are now CEO's themselves.

        the review of quality should ultimately come from the consumers. The problem is all the tests today are designed without any input from the students and parents.

        I run a consulting company and we do a lot of internal training for my employees. I can train and test my employees for competence all I want, but if my customer doesnt experience  value in the results of my testing then I very quickly need to do something different.

        Parents today know which teachers are good. Some objective measures would help parents to get a better idea of the quality of a teacher, but the measures themselves should only be an aid for the consumer to make a choice - not the goal itself.

        The cultural system is really what is broken
        1) Many parents dont understand what the goal of education is. And maybe the rest of us dont agree on what it is. My view is that early education is to prepare children with a foundation to eventually learn how to do a job and to be good citizens. Later education should be about specific jobs or areas.
        2) Parents are mostly to blame - maybe 90%. You only have to look at all the asian immigrants who dont speak english and are completely uneducated, yet whose kids go to college and are highly successful simply because of the focus on education. They go to the same schools as poor performing groups.
        3) political correctness in not wanting to actually assign blame or understand the system problems. Without understanding the actual problems we have union busting and NCLB. I do think the proponents want to improve education but I agree it wont work.

        Some solutions
        1) Federal government can set standards to measure, but it is up to local schools and parents to determine punishments, benefits, and solutions. Centralizing control of education is the wrong way to go. But national (or international) standards which lets parents do apples to apples comparisons would be very helpful. The tests should not be outsourced to companies.

        2) Very large national prizes and competitions for teachers so that teachers can achieve the status of superstars. Something like 1000 $1M prizes each year through a competition that teachers go through during the summer. People watch jeopardy and reality TV - there is no reason that teachers cant become stars just like sports stars. Schools and communities would rally around their teachers.

        3) China ingrained teaching into their culture by making it a given that the highest scoring students were guaranteed coveted royal service jobs. This meant that very poor families could instantly raise their standard of living. What is the equivalent today?

  •  Sad but lovely diary, thalli. (9+ / 0-)

    Thanks for sharing this.

  •  Both my parents were teachers (16+ / 0-)

    My dad was twice nominated for teacher of the year.  He was forced in to retirement for a workplace related medical issue (35 years teaching shop with no proper dust collection system--it had been cut to hold building costs down when the school was remodeled--had led to a serious lung condition).  Both my parents loved teaching and left the profession discouraged and dismayed.  

    I now work part-time in a school district.  After 6 years I have never felt more defeated.  I work for literally a quarter of my average hourly rate in the private sector (my school work is a labor of love at this point as 4/5ths of my income comes from outside work, even though I spend 22 hours a week at school).  I don't want to say too much about the specifics of our district, but the political and managerial mishandling of education is shocking. The strong sense of shared mission and goals that have driven my professional life in private business  and non-profit organizations are almost entirely absent in the school culture.  Teachers are ignored and blamed and treated with contempt by many district level employees.  Managerial buzz phrases like "don't micro-manage" are used to abdicate responsibility to mid-level bureaucrats who have forgotten that their primary responsibility is to support and clear the way for the front-line work of teachers and other hands-on educators.  A recent task force examining long term plans for improvement managed to exclude the teachers in charge of the two flagship programs heralded in student materials and the district's website.  When asked about this omission, administrators talked about the need to include diverse voices, which apparently meant a 2:1 ratio of non instructional staff to teachers.  And this a relatively wealthy and "successful" district.

    I love what I do, and hear over and over again from parents and students how important the work I do is  and how much they appreciate my passion for teaching and devotion to students.  But it's growing increasingly hard to justify working for roughly $40,000 less--money my family could really use to improve our lives--in an environment that treats even its best and brightest as disposable and interchangeable  cogs in a factory being tooled to create test scores.    

  •  Excellent Diary (4+ / 0-)

    Nice writing.  

    Congratulations on your career.  

    I think you might like being retired.  There are lots of things to do for a person like you.  

    Youth lives by personality, age lives by calculation. -- Aristotle

    by not2plato on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 11:36:00 AM PST

  •  Wow I am at school today and (12+ / 0-)

    I am now somewhat depressed.  I teach at the high school level in Washington State.  Many of the same problems are here as well.  However it is all about to get much worse!  That is because we have a DINO as governor.  What democrat would propose slashing funds to poor people by huge amounts, throwing children off of healthcare plans and taking billions out of education?

    The budget that Gregoire proposed is a Republicans wet dream!  Why did she not instead issue a budget that had a tax increase in it saying that it will take a lot of compromise from republicans and democrats?  Then let the republicans slam her budget and propose these dramatic cuts.  Why, why, why?  

    One thing for sure, Gregoire will never get my vote again!

    •  I Agree Gregoire Took A Sick (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gmb, Mr Robert

      turn and is on a Republican path.

      At first when she started down this path I thought she was pissed that Washington Voters didn't vote to tax the rich (there was an initiative on the ballot to do just that) and she was basically saying, if voters don't want to tax the rich then I guess they want the Republican Agenda and that is what they are going to get.

      And she's doing it.

      250 is the new 180

      by kerplunk on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 12:41:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geenius at Wrok, RainyDay, bkamr

      Did you notice that Initiative 1053 passed last year? It requires a statewide vote or a 2/3 supermajority of the state legislature to increase any statewide tax. Gregoire knows there's no way she's going to get that 2/3 to raise taxes. You gotta be kidding me. The citizens of Washington who voted tied her hands. The state constitution requires a balanced budget and she can't raise taxes! What did you expect her to do?

      The Repugs have been preaching that we can get something for nothing, and the voters agreed with them. The voters also rejected a state income tax, and took the taxes off soda, candy, and bottled water.

      Why, why, why? Because we didn't work hard enough in this state to protect the things we care about. We lost and lost big time. Whatcha gonna do, vote for the Repug next time? Or just throw your vote away, like so many on this site urged us to do in 2010, and which too many did, but mostly just stayed home, all because of talk like yours? It's incredibly disappointing to still hear this.

      Corruption is what keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why we win. -Syriana

      by CarbonFiberBoy on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 02:33:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why? Why is Cuomo doing it too? (0+ / 0-)


      Because Democrats are now just like Republicans in actions. Never mind the extreme rhetoric of the GOP or the fuzzy "common man we've got your back" platitudes of the Dems. What it all boils down to, on bread and butter issues, is that both parties are taking us down the same road. Or, to continue with the bread and butter metaphor, they both get their bread$ buttered on the same side, by the same oligarchy.

      It has become extremely hard to ignore this fact.

      In fact, there has been so much bipartisan support for Obama's rw education agenda, many of the complaints voiced on this diary could go straight to his in-box and that of his fellow Dems. If there is a thank you note to be signed, it would be by the GOP, whose views on education policy he has amped up and spread like some vile kudzu across the nation.

      Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

      by NYCee on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 09:56:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My father was a teacher... (7+ / 0-)

    A hell of a teacher. He loved it too. He would have been proud to know you.

  •  NCLB broke my brother, a special (16+ / 0-)

    ed teacher for over 30 years. They didn't cut his class, the paperwork grew and grew and became more and more stressful. He couldn't sleep well as a consequence and needed ambien to get a good nights sleep.. so finally he packed it in last year for 3/4 of his pension. it was worth it to him to gain back his health.

    now if i could just convince him to be a democrat...... his union has done well by him.  

    moving diary. my sense is that you will continue to find a way to be important in the lives of children.

    "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." final words of R Holbrooke

    by UTvoter on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 11:43:53 AM PST

    •  My state (Georgia) does not allow unions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for teachers.

    •  I'm an ESOL teacher, and the Lead Teacher (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NYCee, ggwoman55, UTvoter

      SO MUCH PAPERWORK, days and days of paperwork, and testing, and meetings, and more paperwork, I sometimes wonder why I'm called a teacher and not a 'clerical assistant'

      Dr. Dean...Paging Dr. Dean...he's not on-call you say...then get me DR. MATT!! STAT!!!

      by doctormatt06 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 08:30:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  He should stop being a GOPper... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if that's what youre implying he is, but I wouldnt exactly recommend going Dem... not without incredible scrutiny on each and every one of them. Even then, once you vote them in, they tend to groupthink vote the party line, and on education under Obama that has been just like the GOP in far too many ways.

      Worse, with Dem majorities, Obama was able to make some very damaging changes, to make the system more as folks are complaining about here, more rightwing/corporate friendly than Bush could have dreamed of doing. (Look at his ed sec's record in Chicago, from when he was chancellor... very privatizing of public schools... soulless "reform" ... a lot of pain and anger left in his wake)

      Obama and the Dems, including local ones (esp relevant here), have changed education laws to make the rw agenda under Bush even worse. At least 40 state legislatures, at my last count - along with some weak, embedded unions - have caved to help the happily waiting GOPpers vote in the changes, a very powerful bipartisan success story. This is to win Race to the Top. A horrible thing.

      The Democrats have given us weak platitudes on the need for teachers rights, unions, etc... yet, they have been behaving like Republicans here. It is a sad fact that must be faced squarely in order for us to message our opposition effectively and take steps that match our beliefs.

      Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

      by NYCee on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 09:48:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Me too (20+ / 0-)

    I retired after 35 years in high school classroom when told that we would be required this year to create a weekly curriculum whereby our US History classes would be on the same chapters/pages/sections each day.  In addition, we would have one standard test and homework assignments would be the same from each teacher.  In the event a new teacher joined our ranks, he/she would be given a copy.
    I miss the daily interactions with my kids, but my last group insisted on helping me create a Facebook page--I hear from them and young men and women from years past.  Good luck to all the young teachers--whether staying or leaving.

    •  heh (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, cpresley, bkamr, loblolly

      I have worked as a preschool psychologist for a public school district. Teachers, administrators, therapists, etc., worked together to build rich programs for general ed and special ed students. We have some phenomenal teachers.

      We got new, horrible management last year. Among other things, they are instituting the same chapters/pages/sections ethos at the pre-k level. I guess when the kids in one sandbox decide to build a road to the store, the kids in the next classroom's sandbox better not be building a castle.

    •  same here (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NYCee, Teiresias70, loblolly

      my school district is forcing us - high school teachers - to all teach the same curriculum every day. if not the same thing every day, we have to demonstrate that we are within 2 - 3 days of each other.

      we have to post our weekly lesson plan templates (based on the program the district is paying 350k a year for) to a wiki site that allows (read: forces) teachers to share lesson plans. I don't mind collaboration, but the forced groupthink is ridiculous to say the least. 

      "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." - Joseph Brodsky

      by Shakespeares Sister on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 07:23:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is horrid, the posting of plans, forced. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shakespeares Sister

        Where are you, if you dont mind?

        The stress on lesson plans has gotten out of hand. Seems like just another way to give administrators something to do... obsess over controlling the language, objectives, etc...

        An experienced teacher often doesnt need to write much.

        But I guess they want to make sure enough window dressing is done by teachers, with the wd full of their mandates, to keep teachers too busy to get rebellious - ie, be natural, be creative, use their natural born teaching talents...

        What a wreck.

        Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

        by NYCee on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 09:29:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I teach outside Denver, CO. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and it is horrid, and window dressing, and micro-management.

          lately, we've been forced to "raise the level of rigor" in the content objectives that we must post every day in our classrooms so that when administrators walk through (usually twice a week), they can verify that we're actually teaching what we say we're going to.

          "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." - Joseph Brodsky

          by Shakespeares Sister on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 10:36:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh gawd! I have come to HATE the word "rigor" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hatdog, Shakespeares Sister

            Tell me about it!

            Rigor is the new buzzword with which they are totally enthralled. They play it like Ricky Martin's Living La Vida Loca.

            It always seems to come attached to exactly what you are talking about.

            The objectives mania!

            Now NYC public ed has a TFA type admin in adult ed and it has become infected with the same sort of silliness in overdrive that Bloomberg and Klein foisted on the day schools earlier on.

            The objective obsession is one of them. And "assessment" in each objective.

            It is horrid.

            May we keep our sanity and may we, dare I dream, prevail in rising up against this.

            Teachers have just been too silent. We need to band together and fight this, nationwide.

            Hope a lot of folks show up to the Save Our Schools rally in DC this summer. It's not hard for me to go and I plan to do so. We have both parties working against us here...

            Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

            by NYCee on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 10:51:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  exactly. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NYCee, RainyDay, hatdog

              we have to display, in the objective, how we plan to assess the learning. theoretically, if done according to exactly how they'd like it, we'd have an assessment to grade every day, from every student, from every class.

              it's simply not manageable. nor is it appropriate in a class that is, for example, reading a novel and completing an ongoing assessment such as, say, a paper.

              what it comes down to, really, is what they're making us do is not teaching. at least not the way I remember it when I was being taught.

              "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." - Joseph Brodsky

              by Shakespeares Sister on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 11:06:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Lockstep! That's the disease... (0+ / 0-)

      I can totally empathize. Horrible. Your natural born and born of experience teaching talents, skills, creativity and intuition need not apply. Had better not be in evidence!

      That seems to be the new normal.

      Also, like commenter above you said, evermore (usually useless) paperwork gets piled on.


      Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

      by NYCee on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 09:33:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heart-breaking story (17+ / 0-)

    Like so many others writing comments, I have to mention my mom. She taught chemistry for 30 years and finally retired early because the frustrations were just too much. How could she run labs when she had classes of 40 and lab stations for 28?

    Your story is representative of the stories of thousands of great teachers--thanks for giving them a voice here.

  •  Been There, Done That (29+ / 0-)

    I read the article and I felt that I was reading about myself. Last June after 35 years teacher 2-6th grade in Washington, I retired. Actually I quit. It just so happened that I was 63 years old and could draw my pension. I had the exact same experience as you. Told what to teach, how to teach, when to teach and please don't be creative because that is not on the test. No social studies, no civics, no art, just 90 minutes of reading, 90 minutes of math and whatever was left was time for science. The whole purpose was to make little worker bees. Heaven forbid if we educated  the complete human being to be a citizen in a democratic society. When we had Boeing come into our schools to "show" us how to work(teach) I knew then that the system was rigged for businesses. For me the last straw was a canned reading program of such uninteresting stories that I finally told my principal that I was quitting at the end of  and that I wasn't going to use the school reading program. I figured it would take them about that long to fire me anyway. By mid-winter I was excluded from staff meetings and in services and had a wonderful last four months of school.

    •  "...whatever was left was time for science." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mrs M

      You know, even after reading the new diary, and then working down through this one and its comment stream, it was that line which really hit me in the gut.

      I need to step away for a while.

      "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." -Patrick Henry

      by MackInTheBox on Sat Mar 05, 2011 at 09:49:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll pile on the ditto marks (22+ / 0-)

    Change your story to high school for 26 years vs. elementary for 35, and I could have written this, including the line from a high school guidance counselor who told me I was "too smart to be a teacher."  

    I can't believe how much my job has changed over time.

    Part of my experience has also included moving from strong union states (NY and MA) to a southern non-union state (NC)  and in moving from mostly white suburban schools to a mostly black urban school.  I am shocked that although I am a far better teacher now in this more challenging setting, I would be considered less effective b/c my test scores are lower.  I have not changed as a teacher, except to get better at my craft, but the population I teach has changed so dramatically.

    Your story about the kids who never attend school but yet whose test scores count against you particularly resonated with me.  Over even the past five years I have been shocked about how attendance has become the #1 issue for failing in my classroom-- many, many high school kids just don't come to school, and their parents either cover for them or don't care when they are caught skipping.   How can you hold their test scores against our school when they are not even between our walls?

    It's like the popular analogy of teachers as dentists.  Do you count a dentist as skilled and successful when his patients never get a cavity b/c the patient never forgets to  brush/floss/etc at home and never misses a check up?  Our do you count the dentist's success or failure based on how well the dentist is able to FIX tooth problems?

    At the very least, peace to you in your decisions.  It's hard to be the frog in the slowly boiling pot, and you certainly have put up with hot water for a very impressive amount of time!

    "One Nation....Under Educated"

    by mrsdbrown1 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 12:05:05 PM PST

  •  take a break, take a breather, take a look (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Van Buren, Ms Citizen, Mr Robert


    Do the math - throughout history most people were dead well before 40 or 50 -

    people broke their butts on the soil and it killed them long term or short term.

    doing the same job for 30 or 50 years isn't "normal", it is a new concept.

    take a break, take a breather, take a look around.

    dump the Mother Theresa stuff that society likes to dump on us underlings - we're supposed to fix all the bad results from bad systems and bad rules - maybe we should be getting rid of the people running the bad systems and making the bad rules, and then bad results won't be the norm?


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 12:18:31 PM PST

  •  I work for an Oregon newspaper (18+ / 0-)

    in Roseburg. Contact our editor with this as I am sure we would be willing to publish this as a Guest Column.

  •  I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more. (5+ / 0-)

    No, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
    Well, I wake in the morning,
    Fold my hands and pray for rain.
    I got a head full of ideas
    That are drivin' me insane.
    It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor.
    I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

    I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more.
    No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more.
    Well, he hands you a nickel,
    He hands you a dime,
    He asks you with a grin
    If you're havin' a good time,
    Then he fines you every time you slam the door.
    I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more.

    I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.
    No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.
    Well, he puts his cigar
    Out in your face just for kicks.
    His bedroom window
    It is made out of bricks.
    The National Guard stands around his door.
    Ah, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's pa no more.

    I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.
    No, I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.
    Well, she talks to all the servants
    About man and God and law.
    Everybody says
    She's the brains behind pa.
    She's sixty-eight, but she says she's twenty-four.
    I ain't gonna work for Maggie's ma no more.

    I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
    No, I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
    Well, I try my best
    To be just like I am,
    But everybody wants you
    To be just like them.
    They sing while you slave and I just get bored.
    I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.

    We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

    by Corporate Dog on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 12:30:20 PM PST

  •  The Last Gasps Of America (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, ladybug53, Dunvegan, bkamr, ggwoman55
  •  In the end, it's the students that all suffer (8+ / 0-)

    In all of this, the students suffer from loosing good teachers and being stuck learning things by rote memorization which is probably the worst way to learn.  The students all loose out in the end by having their opportunities lessened.  I saw this as a student when Proposition 13 passed in California and things started going downhill.  The opportunities my sister had just eith years earlier were gone by the time I got up to her level.  Good schools were closed, decent teachers left to better schools.

    After college, I thought I could be a great teacher and even went and got my M.Ed.  I lasted about a half a year as a sub and gave up seeing that the deck was stacked against me.  I was a great teacher, but a lousy disciplinarian.

    Now I read today about pink slips going out and how new teachers are the first to get the shaft.  Many of those will be new teachers with fresh energy and ideas.  

  •  I de-lurked and am breaking my self-imposed (4+ / 0-)

    promise not to post here on DK4. I appreciate so much your years of dedication to teaching. But it breaks my heart to read your comments about autism and special needs students. Even though you tried to help all of your students, and sacrificed so much to do so, I still get a sense that kids with special needs were viewed more as an additional burden than students who deserve and merit a quality education, just like everyone else. There are plenty of teachers, probably the vast majority (I don't believe you are this way), who see children like mine (twins with autism and 1 with learning differences) as outside their own responsibility or purview. The problem is not the children who certainly didn't ask to be born different or in a way that made acceptance by society at large so elusive. It IS the fault of school districts and administrators who have discriminated against our children and segregated them for years from the general population of students. Who have failed to provide the training, resources and adequate support necessary to effectively educate our kids. And to the parents and yes, some teachers, who don't want "different kids" in classrooms with "normal" ones. Someone with your compassion and experience (and youth!) should look into establishing alternative programs for kids that would allow you to do what you love in a supportive environment. I will get a lot of heat for this, but sometimes there is a time and place for not-for-profit charter schools. This may be one of them.


    •  While I see that this is personal for you, (11+ / 0-)

      I doubt many teachers object to having kids with autism in their classrooms because they are "different" but because they are not given the resources to deal with them and deal with every other child in the classroom to. Face it, some kids need special attention and help to learn. I understand where you are coming from as a parent but it's wrong to imply that teachers resist kids with special needs because of their differences rather than the fact that if they have to devote an hour to your kid, and they have 34 other kids, then each of those 34 gets only a minute or two — and some get nothing. I don't think for the most part schools "discriminate" against children like yours. Rather they refuse to recognize that they cannot expect overburdened teachers in large classes to add them to the list of things they already have to deal with.

      Rather than siphoning off funds to non-profit charters, which won't accept your kids anyway unless they specifically deal with those issues, why not properly fund our public schools so they can hire the personnel they need to deal with the needs of all children?

      Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

      by anastasia p on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 02:10:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As a teacher and parent (12+ / 0-)

      of a child with autism,  I can say that few of my colleagues object to the kids per se, they object to: A, the failure of the system to provide the needed resources, and B, the fact that we are labeled as failures when disabled kids do not succeed on state tests.  There are students in my school who are ESL and have autism and there is no way on earth they would ever pass their test this year.  But that matters not to the Charter School crowd, they want us labeled as failures even though they would never take such challenges on.

      We are all Badgers now.

      by Van Buren on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 02:54:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I must disagree (0+ / 0-)

      Special Education teachers have very specific training and skills they can use to teach special needs children. A child with learning disabilities needs certain approaches, and different approaches are effective with children with mental retardation, and again for autism, etc. Should a general ed teacher set up TEACCH centers in her general ed classroom? I don't think so. It's not a good use of the classroom space, and a majority of the students would not do well with that modality.

      It is not realistic or laudable to expect general ed teachers to meet the specific needs of special needs students without extra day-to-day help as well as specialized training.

      I know many parents of special needs kids who are so intent on having their child attend school general ed classrooms so as to appear "normal" that they allow their child to essentially waste their days, doing a separate curriculum from their classmates and being taught by untrained aides, when they could be in a classroom with true peers and well-trained teachers.

      I am curious if you think your 3 children, if they were the same age, would benefit from being in the same classroom? Maybe I am missing something in my way of thinking about it.

      •  I believe I was very clear in my post that the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lisa, ladybug53, bkamr

        real "fault", or the majority of it, lies with districts and administrations who have not provided adequate support, resources or training for general education teachers to teach their special needs students.

        The fact of the matter is that many parents such as myself don't want our kids in general ed to "make them more normal" (most people on this site would not recognize my "normal") but we DO want them to benefit from knowing and engaging with their typically-developing peers and we DO want them to have access to the general curriculum. In our district, the self-contained units are little more than institutionalized care for kids who have anything "different" about them.

        Both my sons with autism are at different places on the autism spectrum. My son most affected by his autism was placed in a self-contained special education classroom with 11 other students whose disabilities ranged from Down Syndrome to blindness to cerebral palsey to intellectual disabilities to ADHD to completely non-verbal. Would you like to tell me that a single special education teacher and an aide with no specific training (and no degree) are adequate to educate this range of specific and, each in its own right, extremely challenging circumstances? I can tell you from my personal experience that districts use these segregated classrooms as catch-alls for students who will not be able to pass whatever standardized tests some anonymous politician or non-teacher has deemed is appropriate.

        As the civil rights battles of the 1960s proved, separate is NOT equal. I'm sick and tired of meaningless standardized testing and bullshit en vogue standards and yes, parents and teachers who are affronted by being asked to educate kids like mine. Do they need support? ABSOLUTELY. And resources and training. So instead of lamenting the "special needs" and "severely autistic" kids in their classrooms, teachers should advocate along with parents like me for adequate resources and support to teach and educate ALL our children.

        •  I hear you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But from what I am reading, your solution would be to have all the students from self-contained classrooms mainstreamed into gen ed classrooms, where many of them are are unable to access the curriculum.

          What bothers me is having a student in a classroom that does not address his needs (and who is not benefiting from peer interaction due to perceived "weirdness"). I'd much rather that student be learning something relevant. If it's single-digit addition, burning time in algebra is not helpful.

          I'm in a position to place kids into different classroom environments and I can tell you it has NEVER crossed my mind to evaluate whether or not a kid could pass a standardized test. My goal is to maximize the value of the time the student spends in class. I think it's irresponsible to place a child functioning like a 5 year old in a 4th grade classroom. No matter how much help the teacher receives, the child is still not going to benefit from reading about state history (especially if he is not yet reading). How does that student benefit from sitting through a curriculum designed for 10 year olds?

          I differ with you in that I don't think it's reasonable to ask one person (a teacher) to be knowledgeable about general ed curriculum and also how to scale that for every kind of kid with special needs. I also know that many gen ed teachers are up to here with the work they must complete for their gen ed students, and asking them to prep separate curriculum for several students plus deal with IEPs (writing them, tracking goals, attending multiple lengthy meetings) is frankly more than one person should be asked to do. But there is no "support" than can take the place of a teacher when it comes to completing those tasks. And when there are already not enough hours in the day, when should a gen ed teacher be essentially cross-trained as a special ed teacher?

          And -- I totally agree with you on the meaningless standardized tests.

          •  Lisa, I'll share a personal story with you. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lisa, Matt Z

            We just went to mediation with our district for our son who is most affected by his autism because of his placement in the self-contained classroom I described above. Most people would classify him as "moderately" or "severely" autistic. I don't use such labels because, as I said, my "normal" is pretty different from most people.

            As a result of the mediation, my son was placed in a resource classroom that included children with a milder class of learning differences. Let me reiterate that I want ALL of the children to be included to the maximum extent possible in the typical classroom, but I can only advocate for my own son.

            The teacher of the resource classroom called me at 11:30 am last Wednesday and said excitedly, "Robert bi-sected a perpindicular line! And then he told everyone how he did it!"

            She and I had no idea whatsoever that he was capable of this because he had never been asked to do it. She said his previous teacher had sent "single-digit addition problems" for him to work on but that he was so over that and could do it effortlessly.

            Not only that, but the kids in his classroom, after a presentation about autism and its impact, were 100% supportive of him and shared in the teacher's delight over his accomplishment.

            Had we not lived in Vancouver, BC and seen firsthand how public education and general ed teachers - with tons of parental, school, administration and district support - can help our son reach his potential, then I wouldn't have believed it possible based on our experiences here in the US.

            And if Robert, who received a barely institutional level of education at the same school can bisect a perpindicular line and tell how he did it . . . what else can he do that we don't know about yet?

            •  wow! (0+ / 0-)

              Congratulations. That's amazing! I think as we learn more about autism we will find unimagined splinter skills. Skills that autists are not only superior at, but that don't exist much in the "normal" population. I'm talking about perceptual things I have observed mostly (seeing how two things are alike within nanoseconds, for example), but who knows what other skills there might be if only we thought to ask.

              What is a resource classroom? How many students are in it? And how old is Robert?

              •  It certainly is... amazing. (0+ / 0-)

                To say that someone "bisected a perpendicular line" is utter nonsense.  

                Perhaps he found the perpendicular bisector of a line segment (with a compass) ?

                I don't know what is indicated when such a fictitious "achievement" is celebrated by parents AND educators...

                This whole diary is depressing.  I've got yard work to do.

                I'll leave it to you all to figure out how to educate the children...

                •  Hmm. Perhaps I misspoke and perhaps he (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mrs M, nancat357

                  did bisect a perpindicular line with a compass. Or perhaps she misspoke in her excitement. The point is that he was capable of doing something that no one knew he could do because he was never given the chance. I suspect he has many such skills, along with other students, who are never given the opportunity to use them.

                  "Fictitious achievement?" Really. My son spoke his first sentence at age 4. Was fully toilet trained at age 6. At age 13 he must still be supervised constantly for his personal safety. You're damn right I celebrate his achievements. All of them. And they're even more precious to me because they're often unexpected.

                  I typed and deleted a lot of petty insults before posting this comment. But I do feel comfortable saying that I'm glad you're "leaving it up" to the rest of us to figure out how to educate the children. We don't need people like you with your smug and condescending attitude. I'm just glad my sons were given to someone like me, who wants them to meet their potential and celebrates their achievements along the way, than someone like you.

                  •  I know, I toyed with responding too... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mrs M, nancat357

                    but then all I could think was, out of all this discussion, that's your only response...really.

                  •  I apologize for the abrupt note. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RainyDay, Mrs M

                    I apologize for hurting your (or anybody else's) feelings.  Those were not my first (much less only) thoughts, either.  I SAID the diary was depressing me...  

                    It depresses me further that I can't expect Elementary Geometry to be reasonably discussed, even here, and in an education diary.

                    I sincerely do yield to others, regarding public education.  Given society, government, and economics, I think it's rather hopeless.  

                    At this rate, we'll do well, in 50 years, not to sound like the "Yangs" in the original Star Trek episode "Omega Glory", babbling (learned by ear) a distorted version of the US Constitution, as "holy words".

                    From "Wark's Home Educator" to "Lincoln's Library of Essential Information" to "Encyclopaedia Britannica" to "Harvard Classics", et al, folks with common sense have always known you'd get the best education at home, on your own, and/or at the library, over your lifetime.  

                    If you can simply READ, you've got a chance.  If you have also "learned how to learn", somewhere (home or school), you've got a better chance.  But reading really IS "fundamental".  

                    Damn a score, and the whole damned dysfunctional system.  I say teach as many children to READ (English, at that) as possible, whether in or out of "the system", if you want to save society and the country.  

                    Many adults (despite 'public education') are 'functionally' illiterate, also - some of us can help there, to some degree, through charity.  I've lately been thinking of tutoring again, despite your attitude that "we don't need people like you"...

                    Regarding "The point is that he was capable of doing something that no one knew he could do...I suspect he has many such skills...",  I suspect that you STILL do not know what he did, which excited him so.  Were he mine, I'd find out post haste.  I'd ask him to explain it again, to ME - with a handy 'picture book' of elementary geometry to ponder, together.  I'm sure you're right - you never know how he might surprise you, in an unsuspected "field"!  He might really "get" geometry, and you'd need to be ready...

        •  I have taught children with severe autism, (10+ / 0-)

          Down Syndrome, cerebal palsey, fetal alchohol syndrome, hearing impairments, OCD, bi-polar, anger management/ EBD ... in my general classroom.  I also teach English Second Language children and usually have multiple children with ADHD in the same class.

          The main issues are:
          1. Whether or not I have a special ed partner teacher in the classroom with me.
          2. If we have a trained aide to help.(I'm five foot two with a bad back. I can not lift a 100 lb child on and off a toilet.)
          3. How many students I have in a class.  Class size does indeed matter when you have students with special needs since they need specialized support, additional time, and individualized instruction.
          4. That our entire school is facing sanctions, next year, since some of our special ed students can not pass the NCLB benchmarks.

          Teachers in our school and state don't just advocate for our students and more resources, we actually gave up our raises this year for our special education students. Our union voted to give up our raises, this year, so we could keep the aides for our students with special needs.  It wasn't the taxpayers who were willing to give up their money -- it was our statewide teacher's union that offered up the raises, so we could keep aides for our special education students.

          Sigh. But teachers and our unions are the bad guys in this dreadful race to the bottom...

          Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

          by bkamr on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 05:24:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What an incredibly sad state of affairs when it (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dunvegan, cpresley, Matt Z, bkamr

            has to come to this to adequately fund special education:

            Our union voted to give up our raises, this year, so we could keep the aides for our students with special needs.

            Thank you for what you do.

            •  Yes, it is incredibly sad. We chose a crazy path (4+ / 0-)

              path in this country.  We chose limitless guns over butter, and we let economic power trump political power.  We have chosen to hold the ultra-rich safe and free from any sacrifice while we fight over crumbs that have fallen from their table.

              Teachers are not against special education children.  Teachers are a limited resource, and they have reached the point where they have been asked to stretch themselves so thin doing so much, that they are at the breaking point.

              For example, just think about time in class.  In a 55 minute class, you really only have 50 minutes of instructional time -- if you have REALLY good classroom management. It isn't uncommon for me to have 2 students with special needs, 3 students with ADHD, and 2 ESL (English Second Language) children in a class.  

              With 35 students, if each student with special needs only requires 10 minutes of individualized support, that leaves 30 minutes for 33 students.  If the students with ADHD require additional help staying on task and me sitting next to or standing beside them to complete an assignment, then that is easily another 3 minutes each.  That leaves 21 minutes for 29 students.  If the ESL students only get 5 minutes additional help, that leaves 11 minutes divided between 27 students, and if I only have 20-30 minutes of new content to present or teach ... I'm still short half the time I need to do that, let alone have any time at all to give individual help to even one of the 27 other students in the class.

              Some of whom: 1) are coming to school dirty and I'm worried they are homeless (note to self to follow-up and get them into the locker room for a shower and get them clean clothes and see the counselor to see how we can help); 2) are going home ill needing work to take home; 3) are acting out -- parents are having a nasty divorce; 4) are missing school a few times this year to testify in abuse cases (I have 1-2 students in this situation every year); 5) are in foster care and are clearly depressed; 6) are like ghosts and their startle reflexes are so heightened, I worry and watch for bruises as I try to get them to trust me, maybe open up; 7) are getting bullied or are being bullies; 8) are just realizing they might be gay and live in homophobic families ... and on and on.

              And, I haven't even touched on the regular issues of students being up to 1 or 2 o'clock texting or playing video games and falling asleep in class, or parents not being home in the evening because they have to work so Jimmy is "raising" himself which does not include doing homework ...

              ALL of these things are issues/ situations that parents and society now expects teachers and schools to take care of and/or DO something about.  As the social safety net got taken away, schools just kept getting more and more shifted onto their plate.

              Meanwhile, teacher bashing has become almost a national past time, the diarist covered the curriculum debacle many are now facing as a result of NCLB and this insane, dysfunctional testing system.  And now, a majority is forming to take away our pensions and slash our pay ... based on lies and motivated by misguided envy.  Plus, we hear ad nauseum about how much more it costs per student in a public school verses private where they do not have the additional costs associated with taking ALL students which means additional services for at risk/ special needs children ... oh, and hearing about how easy we have it only working until 3:00 and getting the whole summer "off" ... like teaching is some sort of part-time profession ... sigh.

              On and on until wonderful teachers like the diarist and even teacherken have been pushed and squeezed and demeaned to the breaking point.  

              I really appreciate your concern and advocacy for your children's needs.  I agree with you that our society should be giving you and them all the help we can to help them achieve their potential.  And, I'm very, very sorry that our society is not willing to do so.  Sadly, if they succeed in busting our unions, we won't have ANY voice at all to try to advocate for our students.

              We NEED parents to stand with us.  Thank you for your support and kind words.

              Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

              by bkamr on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 06:13:20 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  One thing I would really like to see (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, RainyDay

      is special ed funding more appropriately assigned and fully funded. Districts get money for special ed, but it's pretty unusual for a district to be able to cover its expenses wholly from those funds.

      The secondary issue is that the new trend of mandated curriculum, in contrast to giving a teacher more flexibility and control over the lessons taught in a day, is completely inappropriate for kids who are special needs. So, you have a teacher yelled at for the fact that her special needs students aren't succeeding with a curriculum that isn't appropriate and that the teacher has no power to change. I think teachers are in general happy to work with these kids, but if that's the mission, they want the resources to do it. We wouldn't tell the military "go invade this country, and we'll give you a Dodge Dart, one M-16, and a handgun" and expect them to succeed.

      I was in a session of the California Assembly subcommittee on Education, and I saw a passionate teacher come in and beg the committee for the addition of some spanish language readers to his choices. He made a strong argument for why his kids would benefit and why the current curriculum didn't meet their needs. They turned him down, because, they said, our Governator had already made clear that he did not want any kind of "separate but equal" education for kids, that they all had to be using the same materials.

      I thought it was profoundly sad that they would dismiss the experience of someone who had traveled 400 miles on his own dime to give them this message.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 04:46:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Systematically destroying the public schools... (7+ / 0-)

    seems to be the primary goal of the DOE and State Boards of Education throughout the country since the rise of NCLB and the simple minded attempt to quantify all human experience and interactions on a Scan-Tron answer sheet.

    Thank you for your service and the obvious commitment brought to your profession over your career. The loss of an experienced teacher with a love of the profession and the obvious passion for teaching you have imparted through your diary is immeasurable.

    Apparently the thought of actually providing an enriching and well financed educational system is out of bounds now. So much for "Winning the Future", what about creating a present that is sustainable, I believe that if we take care of today's problems the future will take care of itself, oh well WTF!  

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 12:51:16 PM PST

  •  Thank you so much for all you have done (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, cpresley, bkamr, Mr Robert

    to better the lives of students through your vocation.

    I hope you find the recognition and support you need to regain your emotional equilibrium so that next month, you won't feel as disheartened.

    I would certainly understand if you chose to retire. As the saying goes, "if there's turbulence on the airplane, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others."

    Your passion for teaching can be expressed in many other ways, if you choose not to teach full time any more.

  •  I would like to know (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, bkamr

    how you feel tomorrow.  I've had those moments and always, so far, it's better the next day.  But I also know the time will come when I can't fight the good fight anymore.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:11:17 PM PST

  •  I'm a teacher too (13+ / 0-)

    and I feel bashed and underappreciated as well.  I think I'm a good teacher too, and I'm in a wealthy district.  I teach 8th grade US History. I have lots of special ed kids mainstreamed into my class, and I now have 34-38 kids in a period, which I'm told will increase to 38-42 next year.  I keep good classroom discipline, but the more kids I get, the more bad combinations I get, the harder it is to control.

    I don't understand why there is such an assault on teachers and why we should work for "free". I, too, spend thousands of dollars of my own money for supplies for the kids; I, too, took pay cuts, and shorter school year, and yet am expected to have the kids do well on the California Standards Test in May.  I've lost 1.5 weeks and even though that's not much, it does not account for the fact that that's a whole chapter of material they should know before the test.

    I'm not yet where you are in terms of years of teaching and not wanting to teach, but I am also 55, and I do feel very discouraged.

    •  I think it would help so much (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JuliaAnn, ladybug53, bkamr, Mr Robert

      if President Obama would go on national Tv and say that we need to stop bashing and start honoring teachers — and also stop blaming teachers unions. But he won't. I notice he didn't send his daughters to the Duncan schools when he was still living in Chicago. And his neighborhood has some of Chicago's better public schools.

      Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

      by anastasia p on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 02:13:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Get out while you can. (8+ / 0-)

    I am a newly retired teacher with 37 years of service in Michigan. After going 3 years without a raise, a large increase in class size - from 25 to 32, and many more demands placed on staff with less funding, I left teaching. My passion for the teaching profession was undiminished, but my patience for all of nuttiness I encountered outside the classroom door had reached its limit. Our Board of Education wanted to gut our contract, and take away the level of health insurance we had bargained for and won by taking less in salary many years running. They also wanted to cut pay by 10%, as well as refuse to pay for anything more than a Bachelor's degree, even though we are required to get additional education for recertification, which occurs every 5 years. We were offered a small sweetener on our pension multiplier, so I, along with almost 20% of my colleagues in our district, left the profession we all loved.
    I fear for those who could have left, but for various reasons, did not. My working colleagues now pay an extra 3% for retiree health care, although they are not guaranteed to get health care after retirement. Pension benefits for future retirees have been cut. There is talk of further pay cuts the state may impose.
    How much more valued can teaching professionals feel?/snark

  •  Please send this to The Oregonian! (8+ / 0-)

    I don't know in what district you live and teach, but this needs to be read by every single Oregonian.  Please send it as an "In My Opinion."  While I wasn't a teacher, I spent 34 years in child welfare for Oregon.  I "retired" when I realized I couldn't stand to do my job anymore, for many of the same reasons you cite.  It was terribly hard to leave, because, like you, I had devoted my life to this work.  But I have to tell you, that was eight years ago, and I would never go back.  My advice is:  quit, and begin to seriously volunteer and work for educational reform.  You will be much happier.

    We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough? --Wendell Berry

    by deeproots on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:18:53 PM PST

  •  I taught university for 36 years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, ggwoman55

    -- I left a year early and took a pension penalty. I wasn't driven to retuire. Itr is just a tough job despite what many, especially consevative business types, think. I have found more than enough other things to do and have not regretted retiring for a minute.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:19:33 PM PST

  •  seeing the same in KY (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, bkamr

    the GOP need more dumb voter! so where do they start with teacher and education

  •  I feel your disillusionment and despair.... (2+ / 0-)

    ...and I am very sorry for it. But I wonder if you are asking the right question. Perhaps you should be asking yourself "do I want to be an American anymore?". Your country has turned, and mine is turning, it's back on compassion, community, knowledge and reason. It's a tragedy that generations will suffer for this, but maybe the only solution now is to walk away and let those who sowed it, reap the whirlwind.

    A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1)

    by Boreal Ecologist on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:20:14 PM PST

    •  I am surprised with your response (0+ / 0-)

      in light of the fact that you are associated with an institution of higher learning, albeit from another country....,,,.and with this knowledge, I find your comment offensive, especially since you are using my country has turned its back on compassion, community, knowledge and reason....consider looking at your own country and you can start here:

      •  it's called empathy. (0+ / 0-)

        I am a Canadian University professor and insulated from the phenomena the diarist reports. I have not heard that the treaching life is as difficult in Canada, because the right have not succeeded-yet-in making it a national issue. There are concerted attempts to stack the schoolboards with wingers of one sort or another, but also resistance, and western Tory governments are relentless in underfunding education is the midst of great wealth....just as in your nation.

        I said "your country has turned and mine is turning". The process is not as far along in Canada as it is in the US, but we are catching up, I am afraid, and your link is simply evidence of that fact.

        A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1)

        by Boreal Ecologist on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 08:34:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  to say that you are empathetic (0+ / 0-)

          by saying that our teachers should quit their jobs and consider not being an American anymore is not genuinely compassionate or showing empathy, it is simply trolling....and the way to change the system is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, it is to get in and become informed and change the system like we are doing in Madison and other areas of this great country...

          The goal is not to bring your adversaries to their knees but to their senses. -- Mahatma Gandhi

          by Mindmover on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 02:07:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I am you (18+ / 0-)

    a few years older.  But I am you.

    I started teaching in the 5th grade when after every lesson, my teacher (a nun in a room of 60 kids), sent me to the back of the class with one or more students to re teach her lesson.  I did this with Marianne, a girl who had CP (albeit I did not know that disease and was just told she was "slow"), thru the 8th grade.  Also in the 8th grade for an entire week I taught 3rd grade when a flu epidemic came in and there were no subs for the nuns, and no parents available.  My teacher wrote the plans for me, and there I was, all of 13, teaching my own class.

    Like you, I scored high in everything, especially math and was one of two students in my high school asked to take the National Merit Scholarship test.   Unlike you, perhaps because it was only 1963, or perhaps because it was a catholic school, I was told to NOT major in math as there were no jobs in science or math for women.  

    But that was OK. I chose teaching, I chose elementary and I started at 21.   Much of what you state is identical to my career, except I did leave the classroom in my 31st year to become the media center educator as I had gotten my MA in ed tech.   NCLB was hitting, the trashing of teachers, the loss of a best friend/teammate to cancer and I was ready to leave the classroom but not to leave teaching.  So I spent six more years in education.  I retired at 57.  I still sub.  

    All I can add is this.  Teachers like us know that it is more than a job; know that meritocracy makes no sense in a job that is an art, not a science.
    I was just blogging today about how if I found that impossible magic potion that made ALL kids regardless of any variables/circumstance read on level, do everything on level when some arbitrary age/grade was reached, my first instinct would be to share it with every teacher everywhere.

    But the "turn education into a business and make teachers compete for money" gurus would probably say we should "patent it, and sell it".  And thus once again the children who need it the most would be left out because once we put profit on the heads of students, we are no longer teachers.

  •  I'm sorry thinking good thoughts for you nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, bkamr, Mr Robert

    John Kasich, R-OH-gov hates black people, women, children, and unions, I guess that covers almost everyone.

    by OHknighty on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:39:26 PM PST

  •  On your way out the door, please... (0+ / 0-)

    commend the Zinn Education Project to your colleagues.

    It is a generous and inspiring resource for teachers and students.


  •  Excellent and Sad (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for such a clear and compelling look at what's been happening to our educational system. I teach community college where there's still a fair amount of room to actually teach. I still love teaching, but I could never survive what you've been asked to survive. It's remarkable, really, how few of the people in positions of authority understand what makes teaching work. You might want to check out this link. It addresses education in a way you might find interesting

    In a time of universal deceit, the simple act of telling the truth is revolutionary--George Orwell

    by Circle on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 01:50:07 PM PST

  •  I retired after 35 years in the classroom. (9+ / 0-)

    I too  always loved closing the door and running my own class but that has changed so much recently. The closed door does not keep out the elements of our society who want to destroy public education and turn it over to corporations by any means necessary.  I have always said that the public schools are simply a reflection of our society.  The public gets the schools they want.  Did you ever see some of the schools they built 100 years ago or even during the depression?  They were palaces with marble floors, tiled bathrooms, brass fixtures, solid oak doors, moldings and furniture.  Compare that to the junk that is built today.  How did they afford it?  They taxed themselves to pay for it because they did value education.  Not today.  We say we value education, but we really don't.  I fear for our country when public education is finally privatized and corporatized.

  •  This. (10+ / 0-)
    When I mentioned it to my principal, she just said there are no excuses.  We aren’t allowed to have any excuses.  We have to get kids to the level they need to be no matter what the circumstances.  I thought of the little boy I had with an IQ of 87 who could barely read.  I thought of the little girl in a wheelchair who’d had 23 operations on tumors on her body in her eleven years, and the girl who moved from Mexico straight into my class and learned to speak English before my eyes, but couldn’t pass the state test.  Somehow it doesn’t feel like making excuses to acknowledge that they had good reason not to pass their benchmarks.

    This is where No Child Left Behind needs fundamental revision.  Test scores and AYP aren't measuring what we think they're measuring because you're not really looking at the IEPs or the specific needs of the specific kids.

    And of course the overall measures matter.  But we make huge mistakes when we start interpreting school and teacher performance only along the lines of NCLB or AYP-oriented measures that ignore the life of the child in question.

    Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

    by Benintn on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 02:00:45 PM PST

  •  Schools participate in our own demise (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JuliaAnn, ladybug53, 207wickedgood

    Mine public school just received a big award from  ConnCAN, an 'educational advocacy' group that's really a cover for a big money group with a pro-charter school agenda.

    It was a BIG DEAL. Our superintendent showed up, the vice superintendent, department heads, lots of press - our principal started to sob -

    But the funniest thing is that on ConnCAN's website the schools are listed as  middle schools , but they are elementary.

    I guess when they came to the assembly to present us with the award they didn't notice how young the kids were - because they haven't changed this mistake.

    There are no words.

    "won't you help to sing these songs of freedom?"

    by Sprinkles on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 02:08:01 PM PST

  •  Heartbreakingly common (10+ / 0-)

    I train teachers on the masters degree level. I, too, have never wanted to do anything but teach, see it as a mission, a calling, an identity. But I see the best of the best falling to the wayside and wonder what is happening in this country that it is now popular to attack teachers, fire fighters, policemen, all government employees. I alternate between hopelessness and rage. Thank you for your eloquence. I wish it were not necessary to say these things.

  •  what a sad commentary on what we value (9+ / 0-)

    in 21st century america.

    Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues. The Gita 3.21

    by rasbobbo on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 02:28:19 PM PST

  •  thank you.... (8+ / 0-)

    thank you for the 34 years you gave some very lucky students. and thank you for putting up with the bs. and thank you for committing yourself to something more important than money.

    i have logged in for the first time to dkos4 just to comment and say again. thank you. i can't thank teachers like you enough.

  •  impossible by 2014 (7+ / 0-)

    In 2014 all school must be at 100% proficiency. The bar is raised each year, so schools that easily met the AYP even a year ago are going to start struggling. And by 2014 every school will fail because there is no way to score 100% proficiency on an unfair or poorly constructed test with so many flaws that assumes that all children are exactly the same. The gifted student and the Aspbergers student and the mainstreamed Autistic student and the title 1 student and the ELL kids all must pass the exact same test.

    It's time for students and parents to take a stand and just say no with the Bartleby Project.

  •  Thank you for thirty-four years... (7+ / 0-)

    of dedicated service.

    It breaks my heart to see how shabbily teachers are treated in this country. It's just shameful.

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Gandhi

    by AuroraDawn on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 02:55:44 PM PST

  •  Heartbreaking - and foreboding .. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa, ladybug53, cpresley, bkamr, cocinero, thalli1

    .. since the inertia of this "trend" in US education appears to ensure more years of "blame the teacher" on the horizon. It's absolutely shameful.

    Excellent diary. Hopefully, stories like yours will begin to awaken the populace and highlight how completely the deck is stacked against those who could do good - by those that siphon off the spoils.

    Whatever you do going forward must be tempered by the knowledge that you did everything you could to improve the educational experience and the environment in which you worked.

    That is something of which you should be extremely proud. I am certain a countless number of your past students appreciate your efforts in ways you will never know - but certainly must feel in your heart. And they will continue to affect their world in increasingly positive ways. Well done., where did I leave my torches and villagers?

    by FrankSpoke on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 03:00:33 PM PST

  •  I am sorry (7+ / 0-)

    I am sorry our country is so messed up that they take dedicated, beautiful minds like yours and destroy their hope. I will fight for you, and for those coming up who want to be like you. My daughter wants to be a teacher, and she would be great at it. I so want to tell her, don’t, but I bite my tongue for now.

    I work at UW-Madison and I just heard that the number of people inquiring about retirement this year is 3-fold what it was last year. We are going to lose much of our institutional knowledge and our most gifted people will be hired away. My hope is that people have finally had enough and this is the beginning of the class war that has been a long time coming. We are the ants, and they are the grasshoppers. Fear us.

    Impossible is nothing

    by DrSpike on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 03:03:11 PM PST

    •  I did the same thing... (0+ / 0-)

      I mean I bit my tongue about my daughter going into teaching.  She's a valuable asset to her district, but whenever she struggles, and she does because she's in a high poverty middle school, I feel a little guilty.

  •  NCLB was a fraud (6+ / 0-)

    Who has made out from NCLB?  It is impossible for any school/district to accomplish the NCLB mandates by 2014 - IMPOSSIBLE.  

    To every teacher, at every level, past and present, thank you for your time, effort and dedication in attempting to overcome the bull shit that has been dumped on you and try to teach America's kids.  

  •  4 years in, not sure I'll make it past 5 (12+ / 0-)

    I often wonder how teachers who have been at it for 15, 20, 30 years are dealing with the unrelenting assault on the profession. This is only my 4th year teaching, and while I love to teach, I never bargained for all the negativity and contempt. In four years I've been moved to four different schools and taught three different grade levels. I'm crossing my fingers that maybe, finally, this year I won't get a pink slip like the past three years - but that doesn't look likely. I see student teachers doing their internships while our district won't even hire them as substitutes. I just feel bad for them because I know they won't get teaching jobs until enough experienced teachers leave, and even when they do they'll have some heavy dues to pay.

    I came to teaching as a second career and I've never had a more fulfilling job. I've also never felt as vulnerable or as disrespected in my job, even though I've been fortunate to work at some of the best schools in my district. I often think I made the wrong choice. I hate to admit it, but teaching got a lot more tolerable recently when I started making my "escape plans" - becoming a paralegal or going to law school. Right now I'm trying to figure out which would be the better bet, considering that I've got about 20 years until I'm retirement age. I seriously can't imagine being a teacher for the next 20 years - it's completely unclear if we'll even have public schools as we know them by then. If the unions are busted we can count on a lot of unpleasant changes.

    I wish I could be more positive, but I'm already so tired of the bs. And it does occur to me that this is exactly what "they" want - cheap, short-term teachers who won't make the job into a career, who won't ever be eligible for pensions, won't go up the pay scale, won't have the right to due process before they are fired ("tenure"), etc. Next to the near complete lack of regard for our students, that's what bothers me the most - I feel like they are winning.

    •  never thought of that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hi hatdog, I'm sorry to read you're at a crossroads.

      Hadn't thought to think of the angle you wrote in your last paragraph. But I can definitely see it that way. Perhaps "they" want teachers to be like interchangeable parts on a factory machine. Scary thought...

      Finally, just some words of wisdom: If you feel called to be a teacher you'll never be truly satisfied with anything else. Consider a different environment like private, parochial, community college or university, preschool or Head Start. Just 0.02 from a crusty ol' veteran :-)

    •  you took the words (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hatdog, Teiresias70

      right out of my mouth. ditto to everything you said. quite literally. I teach high school English. I love it. it's the only thing I can imagine myself doing. I love teaching kids about the gray areas in life. I tell my students all the time, "It's the only thing that makes sense to me," because they even ask why I teach because they know how crappy it can be at times (i.e. pay, administrative behaviors).

      Next to the near complete lack of regard for our students, that's what bothers me the most - I feel like they are winning.

      And that's the worst part. the fact that they (the powers that be) are showing absolutely NO respect to the future of the country. I just wonder how that will end up for them.

      "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." - Joseph Brodsky

      by Shakespeares Sister on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 07:35:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't do the paralegal thing... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      BTDT before teaching.  Law is even more competitive and cutthroat than education on the job front, and it's been that way for years, even as others have promoted it as the "next growing thing."

      I'm a seven year  special ed teacher, and teaching is my third career.  I'm looking now at doing things to build myself up as a consultant and adviser and going into business for myself.  I'm older and looking for something that I can continue to do past "retirement age."

  •  That's the way it is -- Amen (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, bkamr
  •  I think fundamentally (8+ / 0-)

    most administrators don't think there is any value to experienced teachers. They would happily have a new crop of 22 year olds teach every class if it would keep costs down. That they would be unaware of what teaching can outside of NCLB/AYP/testing-driven parameters is a bonus. Thus, the 20k buyout.

  •  It's so sad. Good teachers are our only hope... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, bkamr, ggwoman55

    ...for a better future.

    The worse the teachers, the worse people are educated and the more likely they are to be swayed by demagogues. Teapartiers, by and large, just don't know any better.

    Sounds like you've been one of the teachers who would really be missed.

    Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... --RFK

    by expatjourno on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 03:40:28 PM PST

  •  You've thought about them first long enough (5+ / 0-)

    I had my own epiphany as I was approaching 30 years (no, not teaching, air traffic control—the only analog is the time in service). I had thought I'd probably go on to 35 or 40 years, but there had been things eating at me in the previous couple of years. Diminution of working speed was one, although cunning and experience kept me on top of the game.

    A major change, which my teacher mother said was also a driving force when she retired, was the workforce had changed. We used to look out for the other guy—take an airplane or two out of his problem, for example, or call the sup to point out that the other guy needed help. In the last five to ten years (the '90s) of my career the general attitude had changed to "let's see how many of my airplanes I can get other guys to work."

    I came to the realization about two and a half years before I left that I wasn't going to miss it. The whole story is on my site (link below), but the Cliff Notes version is I realized that 30 years was a pretty good talking point. I didn't need to prove anything to anyone. I wasn't "quitting" or letting anyone down. I had (was about to) put in 30. No one can look down on one for that.

    As much as I liked air traffic control, someone pointed out that rather than a huge void when I left, it was going to be more like pulling a bucket of water out of a swimming pool. The airplanes were going to come whether I was there or not. The kids are going to come whether you're there or not.

    So, my recommendation is think of yourself, now. You've done your part, I say—way more than your part. Good on you for all the awesomeness you practiced for 35 years. You did it for the kids. You did it to make a difference. You did and you did. You're the kind of teacher everyone talks about when they talk about teachers making a difference.

    A hundred dollars says your name will come up often years from now when young (or older) folks get together to share their good times and their good teachers. We all remember them. That's your heaven.

    Enjoy retirement or second career, whichever comes next. I'll bet it'll pale to your first, but you should feel complete with that one.

  •  logged in to rec this (5+ / 0-)

    Beautiful piece. Thank you.

  •  Sadly, if you each leave, one at a time, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, angstall

    they will have broken the back of not the unions - that's just a cover - they want to break the back of education itself.

    I don't know why,  I want to be wrong. I am not even sure who "they" is - I must have gotten my tin foil hat stuck in bobby pins or something.

    But i truly have no other explanation that fits.

    The rhetoric about improving education is just more 1984 nonsense - who needs educated workers in a country club?

    I also don't now what to do, other than everyone quitting together.  

    Let's break our dependence on foreign goods and our multinational masters. Shop American. May Peace Prevail

    by revgerry on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 04:20:12 PM PST

  •  an exceptional teacher (3+ / 0-)

    This was a beautifully written, heartbreaking diary. You obviously care about your students, and have changed many lives. How many professionals, other than teachers, can say that?
    Sometimes, the work that chooses us changes us, and sometimes we change the way things are done, through creativity and hard work. it's amazing to be passionate about your work for 34 years. Anyway, I care. And thank you.

    Life is a shipwreck. But we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. — Voltaire

    by agrenadier on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 04:32:54 PM PST

  •  It's like the Emperor's New Clothes, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denise b, Hugo Estrada

    with nobody willing to speak up and speak the truth that this whole No Child Left Behind law is turning every public school into a "failing" school because the requirements can never be met!  It needs to be changed!!  Why isn't President Obama doing something about this?!

    I'm across the country in Georgia, and I feel the same way.  We have the same things happening, only at a pace faster than it has happened in Oregon.  We got the "No Excuses" memo about 8 years ago - our Principal even came in to the faculty meeting the first day of school that year wearing a golf shirt with it embroidered on!

    I think this year we probably won't make AYP.  While every child can learn, they can't all learn to the same level.  And those with no English, those with severe learning problems, those with terrible upsetting homes, those where parents are fine with their kid being truant, those with all their utilities cut off and living in a house using flashlights and sleeping around the kerosene heater on pallets, and those with 3 families trying to live in a 2 bedroom trailer -- well, they won't be on grade level and it s not the teacher's fault.  It is reality.

  •  I've been a lifelong supporter of public education (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JuliaAnn, ladybug53, ggwoman55

    Got my M.Ed. and teaching certification in 2005 after 10 years as an editor -- had no idea I was leaping out of one dying field into another. This is the make-or-break year for me: If I don't get a teaching job this fall, I'm quitting on the field, even though I still owe $39,000 on my student loan for that stupid master's degree. And I'm not even looking in public school districts anymore, because I know what that's going to mean for me as a professional: It means I won't be one.

    Unless things change direction tout de suite, I will not be sending my children (when I have them) to public schools. If I can afford a progressive private school, and if one exists where I live, that's where they'll go; if not, I'll homeschool them, and get at least some use out of my degree.

    We thwarted progressive teachers need to form a system of cooperative alternative schools. If the theocons can form their own educational system, so can we. And maybe our system will grow strong enough that we can begin to take in the needy kids who deserve good public schools but will never get them because this nation doesn't think they're worth paying for.

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 04:41:29 PM PST

  •  Always sad when a teacher finally (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    gets taken down by the system.  But, on the other hand, you have given 34 of the best years of your life to Oregon's kids.  It's okay for you to walk away and let someone else pick up the baton.  

    At least in the abstract, teaching is such marvelous profession.  As a fellow Oregonian, thank you.  Now the rest of us here have to fight for quality education.  

  •  And that's what's happening in a "red state" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    so imagine the cuts in urban Blue zones ..... like NYC for instance .....

  •  34 years for me as well. (4+ / 0-)

    I retired from teaching HS, discouraged as you are. It saved my sanity as well as my love of teaching. I found my way to a community college and was very happy to put my skills to work in helping a transitional workforce upgrade his/her educational skills.  But things are changing here as well. In their infinite wisdom they are trying to force us to each all online classes. It's a big mistake. The forces of corporatism are  invading here as well. It is sad that a respected profession like teaching is suffering this demise. But as we all well remember in any declining civilization, they come for the intellectuals first. Good luck, and never give up your love of teaching. As you said, you've always been a teacher, and always will be.

  •  its everywhere (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, hatdog, cpresley, ggwoman55, Ranger1

    I am a principal of a public elementary school in FL. I have been an educator for 36 years, the vast majority of that time as a classroom teacher. I became an administrator to support teachers and try to shield them from all of this so they could do what they love. I now find myself saying things I just don't believe in, like "we have to do more test prep to make sure our math students score high enough next year so we don't fall into corrective action". Teachers who love children, smart, dedicated teachers, are in despair over the state of public education. We are watching the destruction of public education in the USA. I do not know if there is a way to stop it.

  •  And this is how "Idiocracy" goes from (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JuliaAnn, Matt Z

    being satire to being a documentary: Drive all the teachers who view their job as a vocation and replace them all with minimum wage 9-5'ers.

    Sorry to hear what you're going through thalli, perhpas a change to adult education, be it corporate education or even private college might help?

    Zombie Reagan gives the most peachy speeches.

    by The Dead Man on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 05:53:04 PM PST

  •  Teachers: Society's last line of defense before (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    law enforcement.

    But that line is being erased.

    In public education, the depth of the ravine between management and labor is rivaled only by its width.

    by algebrateacher on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 06:05:38 PM PST

  •  This country . . . (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcartri, Matt Z, Ranger1, history first

    . . . values money more than its young.  Thats what Republicans have taught us - that people working hard to help our young are to be despised for wanting to educate our youth because they're on the public payroll, because they would be making more money doing something else (and if something else pays more, it must, perforce, be more important than teaching).  They also believe that if someone really cares about their kids, they put them in private school, and, ironically, they'll pay a fucking arm and a leg for that.

    I fucking hate what their selfishness is doing to this country.

    This can't be happening.

    by TheOrchid on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 06:42:08 PM PST

  •  kindred spirit (9+ / 0-)

    (hi and hello to everyone. My first post here at Daily Kos) :-)

    20+ veteran HS Social Studies here in Virginia.

    What can I tell you friend, I feel every syllable of what you wrote! I don't even know where to begin. I think standardized testing is what's driving me over the edge. Not standardized curriculum-nothing wrong with layout out a roadmap for a course. But politicians and bureaucrats have reduced the definition of learning to a number on a test.

    It's tough for us because we were veteran teachers long before this change happened. We remember what it was like before. We were getting kids to think, read, write, discuss and create. Now school is an assembly line where kids memorize facts and take a multiple-choice trivia test in May (What was the name of Robert E. Lee's horse? I'm not kidding...)

    If only parents could see what we see. That's the only way public education is going to get repaired-if they stand up and demand it.

    Don't really have any words of consolation or wisdom, thalli1. I guess your heart will have to lead the way :-)

    •  Hello back, history first & welcome. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mrs M

      Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. D. Eisenhower

      by trinityfly on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 09:09:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm four years in (4+ / 0-)

    to my teaching career, and I'm beginning to feel the same way already. granted, teaching is my "second career," but experience with the lack of respect from the public, lack of funding (3.6m projected cut from my district for the next 2011-2012 school year), lack of respect from the higher-ups in my own district who think of teachers as the problem/enemy rather than people to be mentored and trained, frustration from my family at my extended at-home work hours (sometimes days, i.e. all day Sunday), and many other things all lead to this frustration that my dream job - because yes, it was and in some ways still is my dream job - is turning into something far, far less desirable than a dream.

    "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." - Joseph Brodsky

    by Shakespeares Sister on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 07:19:19 PM PST

  •  Is the despair that I read (0+ / 0-)

    about teaching, in the discipline, or in the system that it operates...  I believe it is in the latter and that most certainly can be changed to effect constructive outcomes....your love for educating and contributing to a greater good, can and will be rewarded in a format that is conducive to developing the innate capacities of each of your students....please reconsider your intentions and determine yourself to carry on the best challenge of your life...

  •  You have my sincere condolences (0+ / 0-)

    Bless you and thank you.

    Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

    by Just Bob on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 08:13:01 PM PST

  •  Yet another one raises her hand, and says, (8+ / 0-)

    "Me, too."

    I had a moment earlier this year when it hit me: I don't want to do this anymore. This is not teaching.  And I have to admit, I feel the same way most days. The shame of it is that I love the kids, but I hate all the nonsense.

    The teacher next door to me cries on her way to work every morning.

    It is sad beyond words.

    "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way" Juan Ramon Jimnez

    by Teiresias70 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 08:17:23 PM PST

  •  I'm an ESOL teacher (English as a Second Language) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boji, ggwoman55

    Every year we get more and more immigrant students with more and more varied backgrounds.  Right now I teach around 65 to 70 elementary ESOL students (there are about 120 total in the school) and it's rough.  I'm a Lead Teacher, so I have extra duties.  I'm a quasi-test coordinator, so I have extra duties.  I'm competent, so my boss gives me extra duties.  And I stupidly want the best for my kids, so I give myself extra work to make sure they get a well-rounded education, and it's ROUGH.  Haven't gotten a raise in 2 years, haven't felt like I made a difference.  My parents are grateful for my work, but in general have no voice, so my department has little sway to get help for the kids I work with.  I'm a tiny mouse shouting in a sea of Big Fat Cats for some cheese, and the Fat Cats have eaten everything.  I'm sick of this country sometimes, we have such fucked up priorities.

    Dr. Dean...Paging Dr. Dean...he's not on-call you say...then get me DR. MATT!! STAT!!!

    by doctormatt06 on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 08:26:50 PM PST

    •  Stories like this make me glad to teach in a rural (0+ / 0-)

      school district without enough minority students to count. Not that it wouldn't be good for our students to see students from other cultures, but good in taht the government would be on our back.

      As a 29 year veteran, I still love teaching, but the teacher bashing is getting old.

      20,000 won't go far enough. It is february, and all teachers understand that.

      Make the decision in March.

  •  Your story is not unique, but what (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I find disturbing about it... Oregon?  Oregon????? Sheesh, I thought that was a state of progressivism and optimism. I'm so sorry that they have stolen your joy in teaching. I am a lucky teacher in that I teach at the college level. We have to report to the accreditation authorities, who mandate all these silly little exercises, but it is not as invasive. No one tells me what to teach. I do have a disappointing molecular cell biology class this year, but I have an idea what to do to bring them into the fold, and no one but me is going to make that decision - or even hear about it, come to think about it.

    Teaching in the public schools has always been something like heroic. Surviving there now is even more so. Good luck with your decision...

    Pollan's Rule: Cook! What two people eat for dinner: My 365 Dinners 2011

    by pixxer on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 09:04:53 PM PST

    •  Blue is the new red... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      Obama and Dems, contrary to putting a halt to the GOPs horrid tinkering with education, have amped it up... Obama  tapped a master at this, Duncan, both of whom are tied in way too much with Corporate America. I wouldnt even say theyre unwillingly indebted. I think Obama, like Duncan, is  shallow and hollow when it comes to these issues. And he was quoted by an insider in the NYTimes as having said he is largely sympathetic to the blue dog position, financially.

      The Dems, as a whole, are no different. Like Obama, they talk up the workers when they have to, with platitudes and in fuzzy generalites, but then, watch what they do. As for specifics, like Obama promising to put on comfortable shoes and join protesters in collective bargaining is threatened, well, that guy was a fiction of campaign storytelling days gone by.

      The state Dems have been more than happy to jump onto Obama's neoliberal education bandwagon designed to get cash strapped states to change laws to rw agenda to win Race to the Top money - where, to me, win means lose... (privatize schools via charters, merit pay, loss of teacher protections/union weakening ... with many unions too embedded to fight, preferring to fold and make lame excuses, instead... )

      At last count, on bipartisan votes, about 40 states had changed their laws for the worse, due to Obama's agenda.

      Oregon has probably fallen into these traps as well.

      Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a lame party, or should it drive a lame party to break out? If it cant, should it break out?

      by NYCee on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 09:15:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's horrible what is going on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You should have support and a normal work load, and be encouraged to stay.  I am sorry the opposite is the reality.

  •  Take it and tutor. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trinityfly, peachcreek

    You won't regret that one bit, I suspect.

    That way, you can use your magic on your terms and do some good, just like you live to do.

    Thanks for your story.  It makes me sad too, because I hear that good teacher in there, and I remember the good ones from my youth.

    They mattered to me, like you matter to your students.

    Seeing some clowns get in the way of that sucks on a lot of levels, and you know that.

    Take care.


    by potatohead on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 09:07:08 PM PST

  •  at 55 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You still have a few chapters left.  Try here Peace Corps

    "A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial" - Orwell

    by Wyote on Sat Feb 26, 2011 at 09:34:33 PM PST

  •  I seriously want to cry (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYCee, adigal, trinityfly, Matt Z

    How depressing that someone like you has been driven to this point.  Our culture is completely sick for attacking teachers the way we have been.  I understand your frustration and I hope that somehow you'll find renewed inspiration.

    As other posters have said, the GOP wants America stupid.  So they want to drive away good teachers like yourself away from the field.  The Democrats, sadly, have sold out or simply failed to stand up for what is right.  Yet please know that this country is so much greater than two parties bought and sold by the likes of the Koch brothers.  America is waking up (thank you, Tunisia, Egypt & the rest of MENA) and Wisconsin is leading the way (thank you Badgers!).  I don't know when things will turn around for teachers, but I believe that they will turn around.  You're on the side of the good.  And if you need to retire for your own mental health, that's fine, too.  Listen to your heart and best of luck!

  •  This makes me sad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    On several levels. I had always wanted to be a teacher (Music) and I was talked out of it when I was in the USMC by my contemporaries who were teachers before they joined the military. This was in the early 80's when the slow war on public education was still in its infancy.

    Fast forward to today. I volunteer for two hours once per week helping a struggling HS Band teacher with his students. He's ill prepared and demoralized because he's the only music teacher in the district's secondary schools. He not only teaches band, he also teaches choir at both the HS and the Middle School. To say his plate is full to overflowing is putting it extremely mildly.

    The fact of the matter is that ever since the Reagan administration there has been a war on public education. Those who hate public education have not only made sure there's not enough money to adequately run public schools, they've taken over local school boards and are systematically implementing policies and standards guaranteed to ensure failure. Democrats have blithely gone along and even helped the cause because they've bought the lie that ostensibly "free" public education is broken and needs to be fixed when in fact it worked very well for many, many years before "free market conservatives" decided if they could privatize education they could make a lot of money and started working to dismantle what was once the crown jewel of our society so they could eventually profit from it.

    It's working. I know more than a few excellent teachers who quit their jobs with public schools and have gone to work for private schools. I don't blame them. They no longer have to face administrations who are hostile to them, they make livable wages, and there are fewer special needs or at risk students for them to deal with. They know by abandoning the public system they are hurting it, but they have bills to pay and families to feed.

    When will we learn not to put people who hate an institution in charge of the institutions they hate?

    When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. -Jimi Hendrix -6.0 -5.33

    by Cali Techie on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 12:27:14 AM PST

  •  Another story from Oregon... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My high school daughter was recently perplexed with a recent assignment: a group or team essay. This is a writing class that, because of its size, would yield an impossible outside grading load on the teacher.

    The idea of the team essay was born as a last gasp effort to teach within the limits of time available for proper instruction and subsequent analysis and grading. Reading, commenting and instructing properly on 20-25 essays for three sections is a heroic weekly task.

    When the class size increases to 35, the heroic task passes into the impossible.

    My daughter and her teacher both know what is going on and are trying to make the best of it--but I also know they both agree that it sucks.

  •  AYP: Do the math! (4+ / 0-)

    If you follow the increases in AYP that are required year after year, you'll find that eventually not a single pubic school in this country will be able to pass.


    Considering how the burden of meeting those ever increasing goals is made more and more difficult each year, it will happen sooner than anyone thinks.   And all you living in affluent communities who think your top notch public school won't be affected, you better start paying attention.  Even in many of the best school districts in the country, scores are down, budgets are being cut, and parents are freaking out.  

    This is what the plutocrats want.  Whether it's schools, social security, health care, whatever.  If it's public, they want it private.  If they're not getting a percentage off of every penny you spend, they're pissed.  They do not care if the bottom 99%in the USA live like the poorest soul in Africa.  They are better than you and you deserve what you don't get.

    "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets..."

    by Back In Blue on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 12:43:57 AM PST

    •  The development of an unskilled (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Back In Blue

      workforce who will work for the same wages as those in a third world country.

      Or...soldiers for the imperialistic machine.

      Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. D. Eisenhower

      by trinityfly on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 09:03:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)
      If you follow the increases in AYP that are required year after year, you'll find that eventually not a single pubic school in this country will be able to pass.

      When the criteria for NCLB first came out, even my meager understanding of statistics told me it was highly improbable that schools could achieve these goals.

      That's when I knew the fix was in.

      Now, after several years of demonizing teachers, the Republicans feel safe going after the unions.

  •  Republicans Hate Teachers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MonkeyPundit, MartyM

  •  can someone please explain this? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fiddler crabby

    It has to be junk because rightwingers are pushing it....

    ( - Two-thirds of the eighth graders in Wisconsin public schools cannot read proficiently according to the U.S. Department of Education, despite the fact that Wisconsin spends more per pupil in its public schools than any other state in the Midwest.

  •  I could have written this diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYCee, lilypew, trinityfly

    Your experiences and frustrations mirror my own. Somehow I don't think we are that unique. I keep hearing from teachers around the country and at all levels of public education that they are retiring because of the direction that education has gone. They just don't believe in what is expected of teachers or students. To an outsider this might sound as if teachers oppose accountability when it is the flawed system of accountability they object to.  Expecting a child who has a full scale IQ of 78 to read on level is not realistic. As a result of so much emphasis being placed on test scores, bright creative teachers have been turned into robots who spend their time preparing students for the next test not for what life might offer them. This is why so many teachers are frustrated, discouraged, and want out.

    •  This could be said for the students (0+ / 0-)

      who will be unprepared with no critical thinking skills because there is no room for creativity for the teachers:

      frustrated, discouraged, and want out

      It seems we are caught as a nation in the concept that we can expect a good future on the cheap.

      Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. D. Eisenhower

      by trinityfly on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 08:57:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Parents of America unite .... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYCee, lilypew, trinityfly, Dunvegan

    Parents need to step up and start defending their children's education. Thaali1 thank you for this very important diary and thank you for everything you have done for Americas children. The parents of this country are another giant that's needs to be awakened!  The conditions in our schools are simply unacceptable! Parents need to be part of the revolt against tearing down the public school system. Please join get involved, march on Washington DC July 28-31. It is so important that this organization be filled with parents as well as educators!! Let's take back our school system!

    " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Lh1695 on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 04:19:49 AM PST

  •  How will the new teachers know (0+ / 0-)

    that is is not normal and this is not good teaching, when all the old teachers are gone?

    This is what worries me.

  •  When they mainstreamed the LD (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JuliaAnn, hatdog

    Children, it really changed the working conditions for the teachers. I know, because I worked for Special Services right before and during the transition. It was in the 90's, so I'm thinking that it was the right wing Congress that did it.

    They took children who had had specially trained teachers, and put them in classrooms with teachers that had no training ,and you really need that training because it's extremely difficult, discouraging and time consuming to attempt to teach many of the LD children.

    It was an attempt to help all the children accept the LD children and to "normalize" the LD children, or at least that was the stated goal. I'm not so sure now. I'm thinking it was the start of pulling down the public schools so the right wingers could claim that they were failing, and privatize them. They smelled taxpayer money, and wanted it, and wanted to bust the public unions that employed mostly women.

    •  this trend continues (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Next year my school is going to have nearly 50% more SpED students, and with no physical space available to create another classroom, they are going to be "included" into regular ed classes. We may get a half-time paraprofessional to help - that's half an aide - but there are no plans (and no money) to bring in another SpED teacher who might be able to do at least some amount of team teaching. Our current SpED teacher is very likely leaving at the end of this school year; he's stretched to his limit now and says thinking about next year makes him feel ill.

      The change is, in educational terms, a move away from "mainstreaming" SpED students to "inclusion." Mainstreamed students have a sort of home base in a "special day class" specifically for SpED students, and they go into regular ed classes for various parts of the day, depending on their abilities and needs. Mainstreamed students receive most of their special services outside of the regular classroom. In the inclusion model, SpED students do not have a "special day class," they are in the regular classroom all or most of the day and receive all or most of their special services in that classroom. At my school we presently include a large number of SpED students, but there are also a number of students that mainstream with varying success. The idea is that ALL SpED students should be included, and the special day classes should be done away with.

      The big problem with inclusion is that school districts tend to see it as a way of providing services to SpED students on the cheap. The regular classroom teachers rarely receive the training and help that they need to give the SpED students the education they deserve. The SpED teachers are spread so thin that little or no co-teaching is possible. In my experience, there isn't even time for the SpED teachers to plan with us, much less teach. Aides have been cut both in number, and in the number of hours they can work. Also, not all students learn best in a classroom with 30 other students - students with attention and/or behavioral problems, for example.

      None of us know how this is going to work, the district is still planning, we just know it's coming next year. What it comes down to for us teachers and the aides is that we are going to be asked, again, to work harder. What it means for the kids is much less clear, but it seems apparent that everyone is going to end up with less. I do understand that many parents really want their children in regular classrooms, I only wish I could help them see that without the necessary planning and supports in place, that may not be the best solution. The "least restrictive environment" isn't always what it seems.

  •  Outside of the box (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am a scientist who is 58 years old and I for the first time am looking forward to retirement. This seems to be a natural thing, even for those who still love their job. Becoming tired of the struggle and looking forward to time for other things is not a sign of giving up but rather a sign of searching for new meaning.

    Perhaps you can find a way to both retire from formal teaching in the school system and still feed your soul. Think about how you might be a teacher outside of the box they want to put you in. Maybe when you retire you could:
    Create a volunteer tutoring program for non-English speaking students.
    Organize Saturday field trips to art or science museums
    Become a political activist and "educate" the public and legislators in Oregon about the devastating effects of budget cuts

    There are many many ways that your talents can continue to help our precious children. Take some time to dream a new dream.

    Scifiowa - Well-behaved women rarely make history

    by scifiowa on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 06:16:18 AM PST

  •  I have been teaching 20 years (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and the responsibilities I have been getting every year increase, as well. Plus, no raise in two years, and I pray NY doesn't screw around with our pensions. As soon as I can get out (6 years) I will. I will sub, because I love the kids, and have a blast teaching them, but I am tired of the lack of respect. I had a 4.0 in graduate school getting my MS, and I am not worth 50K a year, after 20 years? It makes me ill to think about it.

    My new bumper sticker: Palin-Satan '12

    by adigal on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 07:31:20 AM PST

  •  Can you get out of the US? (0+ / 0-)

    My daughter had a wonderful teacher at her Montessori school for three years straight in Upper Elementary (analogous to 4th-6th grade).  She got fed up with the head of school (for good reason, fwiw) and left at the end of the same year my daughter graduated and the very next thing she did was to spend time teaching in Mexico.  

    Maybe what you need is to go somewhere that isn't in such a state of decay (i.e., the US) and get your love for teaching back (much as I need to get back my love of working in IT).

  •  Another Oregon teacher here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I feel much the same way, and it's been only seven years for me.  But I teach middle school sped, and the changes in paperwork and the demands have shifted from providing services to getting the paperwork done "on time," even if that means we cancel student contact time to get the paperwork done.

    I second what everyone else says about submitting this to the Oregonian.

  •  University Professor here (0+ / 0-)

    Nice diary; though I don't like what is happening to you it is useful for me to know.  

    "Obama won. Get over it."

    by onanyes on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 11:46:01 AM PST

  •  Should be mandatory reading . . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mommyof3, thalli1

    for administrators and politicians.

    The school reform movement has obsessed over teaching without seriously looking either at the impact of bad administration and corrosive political meddling.

    Having been a journalist, I've seen what small school districts in particular go through in trying to hire even mediocre superintendents and principals.  It's a seller's market out there in K-12 education administration, with few good candidates and a fair supply of Little Hitlers able to negotiate terms favorable to themselves and unfavorable to the school.  Worse yet, even the good administrative candidates are compromised by training (in the form of a zillion misconceived "Education" masters and PhD programs) that poorly imparts cookie-cutter pedagogy rather than effectively imparting the ability to run an organization and build consensus and foster creativity and achieve goals.  (Aside—why is it that, when you move from teaching to administration, education advanced degree programs train you in the pedagogy you should already have mastered, not the management skills you need to learn?).  And a good many of the aggressively reformed school systems (Chicago comes to mind) come down like a ton of bricks on teachers at the bad schools while leaving even what I'd call toxic administrators in place.  Overlay that with the stultifying standardization of modern testing and you've got a recipe for graduating at best the human equivalent of trained dancing fleas, not individuals who contribute to society.

    At some point, the politicians need to either grasp that the big problem (aside from money) in education is administration and standardization, not classroom teaching . . . or else simply get out of the way.  It's not surprising to me that there's a backlash against state and federal standards in education; the surprise (and a pleasant surprise at that) is that even ordinary citizens still see the importance of state and federal funding and support to the extent that they do, given how many problems the system has.  It's just a pity that the nature of the game is that these problems are so "inside baseball" that it's difficult for ordinary citizens to organize to do something about them because they don't understand it.  Let's hope that teachers can improve their reputation in the country at large sufficiently to get that across to the public, because I think that's what it will take — someone inside the game with the communication skills to blow the whistle and explain what's going on.

  •  Thank you for your diary (0+ / 0-)

    As there are many teachers in my extended family this is a story I have heard in bits and pieces over the years. You summed it all up beautifully.

  •  A Pittsburgh teacher here (long post) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have had to go through similar bullshit in order to teach.

    Pennsylvania's State Education system is screwed- I had to wade through its bureaucratic mire for 9 months just to get my teachers license transferred from NY to PA

    Pittsburgh city and area high schools are rife with bureaucracy and nepotism. Pittsburgh's 6+ schools of education produce 6,000+ surplus teachers every year (meaning, 6,000 more than they have positions for). So the job market is already competitive.

    Add to that that the school districts make illegal backdoor deals to get alumni of their high schools or the grad schools that gave them free teachers aides (aka student teachers) hired (with the latter, so that the grad schools don't send their student teachers elsewhere).

    Pittsburgh skirts the law using a term that they call "teacher vacancy". What this means is that Pittsburgh Public Schools are supposed to have a waiting period after a job has opened so that anybody can apply for said job.

    What they do is simply hire a teacher, but don't put his or her name on the roster. They list him or her as "teacher vacancy" and then hide this vacancy from public view. Then, after the mandatory hiring period has passed, they claim to have not found anybody else, and put that hired teacher's name on the roster.

    If a candidate does find out about the job, they make some excuse as to why this person isn't good enough; not, of course, mentioning that the position is already (surreptitiously) filled.

    I found this out when, as a substitute teacher, I got called into to substitute teach for "teacher vacancy" and substitute taught for a recently-hired substitute teacher who hand-wrote her lesson plan in pencil on lined paper. Her lesson plan for a 45 minute class? Write down these 6 vocabulary words and their definitions and have students discuss them.

    One tool that Pittsburgh city and area schools use to weed out these "undesirable" teachers is a new bureaucratic tool called the "teacher insight survey", which is designed to be surrogates for face-to-face interviews.

    This survey is a series of questions that present hypothetical scenarios with an artificially limited choice of options for what you should do in them; neither of these choices is really a stellar choice, but there's no written response option. Instead of responding by telling them what the best situation is, you have to choose the least worst option.

    They expand on this survey by asking you how likely you be to do ___ in this situation. Really, however, it's a no-win situation wherein every possible answer choice can be used to rationalize rejecting you as a candidate.

    A situation might ask you how likely you would be to act a certain way faced with a certain moral quandary.

    Your options are: Very Likely, Somewhat Likely, Neutral, Somewhat Unlikely, or Very Unlikely.

    If your answer involves a "very" answer, the HR staff can say that you're stubborn or impulsive. If your answer involves a "somewhat" answer, the HR staff can say that you're non-committal or timid. If your answer involves a "neutral" answer, HR staff can say that you don't give a shit. Which frankly, by the time one is done answering those question, you don't.

    Two incidents in my experience stick out as hallmarks of what is wrong with our system.

    1- Fired for using the lyrics to Frank Zappa's "I'm the Slime" to inspire critical thought.

    When I was substitute teaching in one of the school districts, I wrote the lyrics to Frank Zappa's "I'm the Slime" on the board in order to encourage students' critical thought. I in no way let it distract from the day's lesson plan (for lack of better words- it was more of a worksheet assignment).

    The HR chief (who was a bureaucrat with no teaching experience) fired me for writing "highly inappropriate" content on the board, which she dubiously claimed several parents had complained about.

    Here are the lyrics to I'm the Slime:

    I am gross and perverted
    I'm obsessed and deranged
    I have existed for years
    But very little had changed
    I am the tool of the government
    And industry too
    For I am destined to rule
    And regulate you

    I may be vile and pernicious
    But you can't look away
    I make you think I'm delicious
    With the stuff that I say
    I am the best you can get
    Have you guessed me yet?
    I am the slime oozing out from your tv set

    You will obey me while I lead you
    And eat the garbage that I feed you
    Until the day that we don't need you
    Don't got for one will heed you
    Your mind is totally controlled
    It has been stuffed into my mold
    And you will do as you are told
    Until the rights to you are sold

    2- Observed an administrator excuse a teacher's blatantly gaycist comment to a middle school student.

    Earlier this year, I taught a class in a Pittsburgh middle school. During the advisory period, I was tasked with discussing the topic of bullying with students, as part of Pittsburgh's anti-bullying week.

    This had coincided with the recent rash of gay teen suicides, and as gay students (or students perceived to be gay) are the #1 target of bullies at the moment, it was natural that I should address this topic.

    A few of the middle school students expressed typical, blatantly gaycist views, such as that gays are sinful, perverse, etc.

    One student floored me by asserting that gay students provoke (the ire of) bullies by choosing to be gay and damn themselves to hell; the implication being that they deserve to be bullied. I of course sought to correct his ignorance, but this is when things got ugly.

    The student asked another teacher who had heard the entire conversation if "gays chose to be gay", and she said "yes" (even though she had heard what this student had just said).

    To top it off, that same teacher forced me to reward the students who had "participated" in this bullying awareness "forum" with those latex anti-bullying awareness wristbands.

    The received them on condition that they sign the anti-bullying pledge that any rational teacher would infer that they gaycist students had absolutely no intention of abiding by.

    Thus, in short, I was forced to reward a student for his bigotry. When I addressed this to the administration later, she excused this teacher's behavior as "just a difference of opinion".

  •  I thought this piece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    was an excellent distillation of the problems.  Clearly, other talented  teachers who have conducted themselves as you have are feeling the same way.  And that does not bode well for the future and direction of American education.

    Whatever you do, thank you for your "service to the country". Go forth, clear of conscience.

    The IQ and the life expectancy of the average American recently passed each other in opposite directions. --George Carlin

    by Bendra on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:51:52 AM PST

  •  This is just so damn sad (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dunvegan, mommyof3, FireBird1

    Thank you.

    Money=speech; every dollar has a right to be heard. The Supremes

    by orson on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:56:04 AM PST

  •  Being a teacher is akin to Cassandra's Curse (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dunvegan, mommyof3, FireBird1

    To be blessed with perfect prophesy, but cursed that nobody will ever believe you

  •  God damm it! (0+ / 0-)

    We can't let this happen to our country. This is an outrage and a crime. This needs a documentary!

    I should put something smart or witty here, but can't think of anything.

    by onionjim on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:49:36 PM PST

  •  Get involved with the change (0+ / 0-)

    Thalli1 I know how you feel.  The daily struggle to keep your spirits up and do what you love to do..teach... is difficult.  As of late, I have been struggling with the changes in education and have decided to act, rather than sit by and let change happen without my input.   VIVAteachers is a website where we teachers can get involved in the policy making happening statewide and nationwide.  We need teachers' voicee in policy making!  The site will be back up and running on Wednesday!  Next week we, the NYS task force, are meeting with Maria Neira, New York Teacher Union VP to present our recommendations on teacher effectiveness.  Get involved teachers.  VIVA is reaching out to all the states!!!!

  •  Now that you're an internet sensation (0+ / 0-)

    I've made it to this diary. Just brilliant on all levels. There are 35 years of really lucky kids who have sat in your classroom.

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