Tuesday, December 11, 2007

White Flag



Some people that read this blog and read comments I write on other blogs label me as a burnt out, prejudiced teacher who has given up on children because I have written that there are kids that cannot learn. I have written that there are high school students with third grade reading and math levels that cannot compete and might never be able to.


I'm willing to admit I might be wrong about some of them. But, if these kids continue in a NYC school, they will never succeed. There is no way to help them, no matter what anyone says. It is impossible to differentiate learning when there are 34 kids in a class, many with attention deficits and learning disabilities. It is impossible to help them when they are required to pass algebra when they can barely add. I'll never forget the high school senior I taught years ago who could not count past 100 or the girl who asked her mother how much a nickel was worth when we were doing coin problems.


I know I am supposed to care. And, I do care, more than most. In a system like the one I work in, caring is not enough. In fact, caring does almost nothing. I've sat in on IEP conferences only to have my thoughts over ridden by a pompous psychologist who thought he knew everything. I've watched kids get programmed for special education and have seen how little those programs do to help the kids also. The special education classes are too big. Supposedly the curriculum is being taught differently, but it is the same curriculum nevertheless. Many of the special education teachers do not even know the material they are expected to teach as they have not been trained in the subject matter.


I have tried to institute tutoring programs where I team up an honor student with a struggling student. It has worked but the administration has done nothing to help. I requested a C-6 assignment that would allow me to run a program like this. I was turned down. The administration would rather have my name down as a library tutor. According to them, it is much better for me to give one kid one answer a period than to arrange for 10 or more kids to have a private tutor.



No one cares about kids. The administrators just care about collecting performance bonuses. They want to pass them along. It doesn't matter whether or not the kids know anything. The mayor and chancellor just want to be the big cheese and run everything although they know nothing about education. Then there are the teachers that don't care either. I tried to convince my AP that we needed honor classes in the new algebra class and in Math B 31. The really smart kids are being left behind in those classes. He said no. Some of my colleagues are opposed also. They don't want to be left with a class without these smart kids. They don't mind sacrificing the bright as long as their classes are still good. Even some of the blog commenters don't care. Sure they write like they do. They say every kid can be educated. I'd like to know what they are doing to promote education for all? Are they protesting for smaller class sizes? Are they trying to institute better remedial and tutoring programs? I bet they are just criticizing teachers and ranting that they teachers don't care.

I have been told by readers and commenters that instead of being pissed, I should try to change the system. I've tried. I've tried for over 30 years. I'm admitting defeat. The obstacles in my way are just too much for me to beat. I feel bad for the kids in my classes that cannot succeed but unless the system changes there is no hope for them.

Just like we can't all be beauty queens or great athletes or rock stars, we can't all be brilliant students. Even if the system changes, there will always be people out there that can't succeed. It is time to realize that and help them achieve in their own ways.

12 comments:

Mrs.K said...

It isn't you. It is the system. It seems that education has become the proving ground to fix problems that exist in overall society. Education can not fix poverty. Education can not provide solutions for learned helplessness. Education is not the magic formula that makes everyone (by 2012, isn't it?) catch up and not get "left behind".

My question is this: what type of a system are we looking at that wants all people to achieve the exact same knowledge base at the exact same pace? I mean, does this whole plan not reek of "sameness" to anyone else? Sameness is not what we, as invidualistic Americans, should strive towards.

Sadly, teachers are the front line and so many must martyr themselves. New teachers are happy to do it. Veteran teachers are called veterans because they have been in the war longer. You're not a burn out, you just need to have a chance to get away from intense combat. You've got shell shock. That's all.

Schoolgal said...

I find it amusing how people read your blog, and NYCEd, and refuse to acknowledge how both of you care about the students, the system and the union.

These people are idiots.

Pissed Off said...

Thank ou both for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

You are so completely on-target that it almost hurts. If only someone in the DOE would open their eyes and realize that what you are saying on here is the TRUTH and an intelligent perspective, and not just ranting, then maybe they would see that something needs to be done. I fought in the trenches for 10 years in the DOE and when my chance came to get out....I took it. I admitted defeat too, because there is just no way to fix it single-handedly at this point. Administrators are covering their tushes day and night and don't give a c*rap about what the kids really need or get. THe teachers are left to be the real catalysts for learning, but most of the time, their hands are tied so tightly that they can't even do their job. It's the saddest thing I've ever seen....kids that need help, teachers who want to give it...and a mayor and system that systematically ignores it over and over again. Thank God I left. I never thought I'd ever say that, but it's the truth. At least I won't die of frustration from watching this happen in front of me and being helpless to do anything about it. Keep up your great work. One day the world will see how horribly wrong education in the US has gotten to be, and NYC will be leading the way.

Anonymous said...

All you are doing is telling the truth. You blog is great, and I enjoy reading it.

Anonymous said...

Thank G-d there are some intelligent people left in this vicious, corrupt, and aimless system. You are not burnt-out--you are a soothsayer. All the idiots who jump on the NCLB bandwagon have no idea what they are talking about--in fact, they are enablers. I am so afraid for our future--there are so many mediocre people out there, including the ones who tell you that you are the one who is burnt-out; you are tired of fighting against the stupidity that overrides the DOE (and higher). Thank you for being intelligent and truthful!!!!!

A Workshop Model said...

There is a direct correlation;the more government has intervened directly in public education systems nationwide, the less effective those systems have become in maintaining themselves as true education systems. Now, teachers are "facilitators", and the kids derive meaning on their own. The entire spirit and intent of what education used to be is non existent on an official level. Kids just don't have the same opportunities due to the corporatization of education. NCLB started a downward trend in this country. My problem is that I'm afraid where it all could end up......

ed notes online said...

"In fact, caring does almost nothing."
Here's where I disagree. I think caring does a hell of a lot. Why? Because the kids know when you care and for them it means a lot. Does it mean a difference academically? No. But I have always believed that kids are more likely to work with a teacher they feel cares. Maybe that is worth a smidgeon academically. Coming from elementary school, academics weren't the whole ball game. Bet you'll still care long after you retire.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Ok I have been thinking hard about your words and that is why I waited so long to comment on this entry.

First, I don't think you are burnt out. "Burnt out teachers" were never on fire! They came into the system defeated human beings and remained defeated human beings and will leave defeated human beings.
I have seen bad and burnt out teachers and you are not one of them.

Second, your analysis is sound but perhaps the problem for some people is the way you state things.
I DON'T BELEIVE FOR A SECOND THAT YOU ARE PREJUDICE FAR FROM IT YOU SUPPORT FAIRNESS AND EQUALITY FOR ALL BY POINTING OUT THE INJUSTICE AND INEQUALITY OF THE ROTTEN SYSTEM WE WORK FOR.

Third, what you say about Special Education is true. I will devote a comprehensive analysis(in my humble opinion)based on my 20 years in the field. I agree with you that Special Education does very little to help the population that is labeled such. Pathetically few SP.ED. teachers know their content area but I think I have figured the real reason this is so.

Fourthly and lastly, people can disagree with you and me but they must be able to support their arguments logically, consistantly and clearly. When readers of your blog begin to "attack" your motives and your intergrity I believe it is time to ignore them.
As I have stated in my blog I don't need to be validated by others to know my worth as a human being--I know who I am. I know my truth as I know you know yours.
With age comes wisdom and the ability to say I don't give a sh*t you don't like me or what I say I have been on this earth long enough to have earned my right to say certain things no matter what!

So you continue to say what you want to say in any way you want to say it those of us who know, know you are, as the kids would say, for real!

BLOG ON!

Pissed Off said...

Justice--if only we werent' just blog buddies....

Ednotes and workshop and everyone else--thanks!

proofoflife said...

You were one of the reasons I startedv blogging!!! 8 more days to Jamaica..you lucky kitty!!!! Have a blast!

Anonymous said...

I had the same issues with people when I started my blog...it took me about a year and half to not take certain comments about me being 'negative' so seriously. They are my opinions from my own experiences..they count for something...