The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

With Both Barrels...

            Teaching is a challenge every day. It was a challenge last year, but this year it seems like the nation is expecting educators to jump through hoops that are set at unreachable heights.

           Last week was National Mental Health Awareness week.  In schools around the country, we cannot even acknowledge that a child's mental health (or their parent's mental instability) is a factor when it comes to achievement.  If a child is bipolar/ID (intellectually delayed or what used to be called mentally retarded)/OD (oppositional defiance), they still must achieve at an "advanced" level on the state test this next spring.  No excuses.  If a child's mother is absent due to drug addiction, if a child has just been removed from their foster home and is now in a group home, no accommodations will be made.  They still are expected to achieve at the top level.  

         The media and the politicians make me angry.  They say, "Your children are as smart (or stupid) as their test scores."  They say,"You are not a good teacher. How do we know? We know because your children are not testing at the level we've proclaimed." My students are full of potential, and I work my rear end off...

           I come in on Saturdays and Sundays. I don't have energy to do anything "fun" nor do I have the time. I am at school hours after my day officially ends. I have done home visits.  I spend my own money on my classroom.  However, since I will probably be operating the slurpee machine at Walmart next year, I had better start saving instead of spending...

         Politicians...Reporters...Anyone who slams public schools... Walk a mile month in my shoes.  Take on a classroom, and hold out your platter, 'cause it's going to be heaped to the point of overflowing. Data collection meetings every week. Grades. Parent conferences (they happen all year).  Grading papers. Scoring district assessments. Faculty meetings. Grade level meetings. Lesson plans. And of course, teaching.

          This morning I discovered I was not the only angry one. Dr. (Bell) Branstetter, on her pheomental blog was one who had let "them" have it with both barrels.

photo by flickrway
Yesterday I really did bang my head against the wall while in my principal's office.  She was talking to a group of my students--third graders---and she metioned "America" and one of  my kids asked, "Do we live in America?"  (She is NOT an immigrant nor is she the child of immigrants, in case you're wondering.) I HAD to bang my head (just once) in frustration...

           Check out her post yesterday (October 11).  She says it eloquently.  She says what needs to be said.  And although you'll get some spittle on you---'cause she's (deservedly) on a full-tilt rant---it's worth the read.


  1. Well said, Sioux. I visited the link you provided, as well. I used to transcribe psychology notes for a state juvenile facility and I can tell you that some of these kids' stories are horrendous. The scenarios you pose are quite common and that should concern all of us. God bless you for teaching and, moreover, for caring so deeply.

  2. I went there, too, and left a comment. I don't know how you and all the caring teachers make it through the days! If I've forgotten to mention how awesome I think you are...Ditto what Lisa said!! :)

  3. Dr. Branstetter's post was so good that I had to read several more and bookmark the site. Thank you so much for sharing it. I sent the link to several former teaching colleagues, along with the link to your blog, too. I'm sure many can relate. My favorite phrase in your post: "Take on a classroom, and hold out your platter, 'cause it's going to be heaped to the point of overflowing." I remember getting so angry when I was told how nice it must be to get off work at 3:00 every day.


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