I have taught elementary school, middle school, high school and been a principal. It has been seven years since I have been in a classroom.
Most people remember their school years with less than found emotions. Children come from homes with various levels of stability that truly represents a cross section of the community: wealthy homes; stable homes with enrichments; single parent homes; families living in poverty; homes with violent parents, drug and alcohol addicted parents… The list is as varying as the community itself.
It is safe to say that no two children are experiencing the same home life and same life pressures. They come into school with different degrees of abilities, advantages, emotional stability and attitudes.
Adding to this, in the classroom we try to fit them into a one-size-fits-all-mold – a homogeneous curriculum dictated by educational bureaucrats and mandated by politicians.
Then, children have to deal with the social pressures inflicted by their peers - often cruel and sometimes violent.
We have all been there – we have all lived through it. No wonder we have conflicted feelings about school.
Most parent’s knowledge of school come from their experience as a student – from a child’s perspective. Nine months a year the parent’s responsibility is to make sure their kids get off to school. Many parents cannot tell you the name of their children’s teachers, or even recognize them in passing – much less understand the function and dysfunction of the local education environment.
Education is a complex bureaucracy and does not necessarily have the actual education of the students as its top priority.
Superintendents are strictly political animals; they know nothing of the actual culture, educational standards taught, teachers or classroom conditions in the schools they supervise. They serve at the pleasure of the school boards that hire and can fire them. They are 99% politicians and 1% educators. Their primary concern is keeping their job by keeping the school board happy – and much of it is smoke and mirrors.
Principals are mainly site administrators. They are responsible for the school budget, physical plant, teachers, support staff, safety and welfare of the children; and to insure that some type of coordinated schedule, in line with state standards, is maintained. Principals are the minions of the Superintendents. Their tenure – their jobs – depend on covering the Superintendents ass; and they exist knowing that no one has their back. The Superintendent will sacrifice a principal in a New York minute if a site problem reaches the attention of the school board.
And then there are the teachers. I have often wondered why anyone would make a career of teaching.
The only true educators in the school system are the teachers. Teachers come to school each morning tasked with teaching a bloated curriculum aimed at preparing the students to pass some arbitrary, politically required test. The only purpose these test serve are to give politicians bragging rights that they are fixing failing schools.
In the classroom the teachers deal with disruptive and rude students, students with no interest in learning, and special needs students that are ‘mainstreamed’ into the regular classroom.
Even with these difficulties teachers still care about most of their students, and do their best to actually present educational material tailored to each child’s ability.
Teachers are underpaid and underappreciated. They are the whipping post of politicians. It always burns my ass to hear some parent harping on and on about their child’s teacher. To become a teacher requires a minimum of four years schooling plus internships. Teachers have to pass a rigorous test to become certified, and then teachers are constantly, formally evaluated including classroom observations. In order to recertify on a state mandated schedule teachers are required to complete a number of college level continuing education classes. Many teachers have Masters Degrees and above; whereas the only qualification for being a parent is the ability to breed.
I have little patience for people that complain about their public schools. Perhaps we should close all public schools and fund only home schooling programs – you chose to have them – you stay home and teach them. A few years of parents dealing 24/7/365 with their children would either result in a dramatic decrease in the national birth rate or a renewed appreciation for the public school system.
School days School days
Dear old golden rule days