Every day I seem to come across another story of a school district, a school or a teacher on the brink of calamity. Whether it be the sweeping ‘reforms’ in New Jersey, the Renaissance School Initiative in my own Philadelphia or budget cuts in Chicago , a disgruntled teacher in Florida or a Newsweek article blasting teachers, it seems everyone in education (or those with no hand in it) have something to say or do about education.
It’s scary as hell.
The day before Spring Break my district announced that all 14 of its schools slated for complete overhauls were being restructured in some way. Mine will become a charter school next year, which means that all of the staff will have to apply for a new job.
But it’s not about us.
I sincerely hope that the new management coming in can do more for our students than we every could. I sincerely hope that they keep our students and don’t try to weed them out as many charters do. I hope that our students are given the chance to explore their own interests and are challenged beyond The Test. I hope their new teachers will listen to them, teach them how to listen and build a community in the classroom. I hope they will be given the opportunity to use 21st Century tools in authentic and meaningful ways.
I won’t be there to see it. Neither will many of my colleagues.
As a stipulation of the Renaissance School Initiative, all Renaissance Schools will run up to 22 days in July (with students) an extra hour a day as well as up to two Saturdays a month. If I wanted to work at KIPP school, I would already be there.
They also are not in market, it seems, for a Computer teacher.
What’s sad is that many teachers will be either leaving the district, retiring early or being forced to choose schools off a list just to stay employed. Many don’t want to leave the union and many have worked at the school for 20+ years and find it silly to try to work somewhere else for 2-3 years until retirement.
The other sad thing? Many of these teachers have been forced over the past few years to teach formulaic lessons or scripted programs. When they do apply to work elsewhere, this will not help them get a job. It has also, for many, made them lose sight of why they got into teaching in the first place.
These kinds of overhauls are happening all over the country, though perhaps with different names or different models (i.e. the Rhode Island teacher layoffs). It seems to be the fad these days to point the finger at the teachers (and teachers unions) for all of the problems in education. Easy enough. It’s far simpler to replace a teaching staff than fix a broken system (one that often lets incompetent teachers stay in the classroom).
Who would honestly WANT to be a teacher these days?
I know, however, what I am willing to accept, what I refuse to accept, what kind of school I want to work in, and what I am not willing to ‘take’ when it comes to being treated as a professional. I know this because I know what conditions I need to best serve my students.
When it comes down to it, it’s not about us.
It’s about the kids.
Which is why I get up every morning.
Sorry, Superintendent Ackerman.
Sorry, Jerry Jordan.
You are Bantha fodder in my book.