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.

5 comments:

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

You are never too old to care, and it's obvious that you do--passionately. Otherwise, all the crap you (and we) are forced to endure wouldn't bother you. You'd just collect your paycheck, shut your mouth, and go home at the end of the day. But you care. Please, don't ever lose that ability. Your students need you...more than you will ever know.

And while I'm at it: Keep blogging. Not only is it an excellent way to maintain your sanity in the insane world of NCLB, but it is also a benefit to those of us who read your posts. We're in this together, sister!

Pissed Off said...

Thanks.

My husband thinks I am nuts to keep working. My pension, if I wanted to collect it, would be more than my salary at this time. I like the kids too much to give it up. They keep me young, even when they are driving me crazy.

Nic said...

Honestly, I bet the other school would have been worse now. Being told that it's your fault if lower-performing kids (which most of the tougher schools tend to have more of, for a big mess of reasons)can't perform at exactly the same level as their more privileged counterparts, right this instant (what do you mean, Juanito can't pass a test at a native level of English one year after crossing the border?)makes the job nearly intolerable. At least, that was my experience. I'm not at one of the top schools but even having more of a mix is a relief.

Pissed Off Mom said...

I agree with California Teacher guy 100% he could have not have stated it any better, but I have to add my 2 cents. You can't leave I know you are teaching my son in his overcrowded high school. Okay I don't know that but I do know that dedicated teachers like yourself are few and far between.

Pissed Off said...

thanks PO mom!