Thursday, March 08, 2007
What Went Wrong?
I know I make my school look like it is in a third world country when I write about it, but it is really one of the top schools in the city. We are so overcrowded because we are so good. Parents from all over send their kids here if they can. For the most part we have great students and a great faculty. The school is in a good location. It's safe. I can't blame parents for sending their kids here. I sent my own kids to schools we were not zoned for because my neighborhood high school does not have a great reputation. One of my kids went to a specialized school. The other one, an average kid got into the good school because I knew someone at that school in power. I can't fault parents who do the same thing or lie about their addresses so they can come to my school.
I used to teach in a school that was not too good. It took me an hour to get there and it was almost impossible to park. The halls were not really very safe. There were staircases that it was not advisable to walk in. Kids carried guns. One of my students was arrested with a sawed off shot gun one day. Another kid shot an FBI agent over the weekend. On fire drills, the kids lit real fires. I was happier there. In spite of all this, I liked the school and the staff. I got to school early, stayed late and never really complained. I'm still friends with all the people I worked with there and they pretty much feel the same way about teaching as I do.
So, why the change? Why is this nice, safe environment, ten minutes from my home, with plenty of parking making me so miserable so much of the time? Could it be this new NCLB law? I don't ever remember being told I had to have the majority of my class passing. I never got told to "raise my expectations". Kids sleeping in class was not my fault. No one ever told me to re-evaluate my teaching methods. I had a miserable AP back then too. If she didn't like you, she made your life miserable. Even if she liked you, she made your life miserable. But, she was realistic. She accepted certain kids were incapable of learning and passing. She knew some classes would not be quiet no matter what the teacher did. There was none of this blaming the teacher for everything that went wrong.
Why did I leave? I probably would have been one of the people they had to carry out when they closed the school if it wasn't for my two babies and my need to work closer to home. But, I guess that school would have changed now too. They too would feel the pressures of getting everyone to succeed, of being forced to have standards so low that everyone will pass. I guess I am just getting too old for this stuff. Maybe it is time for me to go.