Friday, March 13, 2009

What Ifs...and public school

Students complain that they would learn better if they were entertained more.

Girls are getting in huge fights over ex-boyfriends who can't even pass 7th grade.

Teachers are patrol officers of the hallways and are expected to continually do more and more for no other reason than we are to do whatever makes the school corporation look better to the public. Why are we groveling for a pat on the head? We'll spend almost $30,000 on an electric sign (to make us look good to people driving by) but we can't afford more teachers to make the learning environment better and class sizes smaller? Different funds, I know, but I don't understand.

The state of IN pays a fairly small fraction of a teacher's highest salary for their pension (approximately 30-40% depending on when you retire). The state of OH pays approximately twice that for their pensioned teachers.

The state of IN has implemented NEW and BETTER testing, piloting this year, counting next, of students to determine if they can graduate from high school. This test will be given in a few weeks and it has yet to be written. Juniors already take Core 40 testing that, really, appears to serve no purpose. Middle schoolers were tested a week ago on content that they were not necessarily expected to know yet and not in keeping with the sample material sent by the state to help prepare the kids.

A rural school in county south of us had a bomb threat this week. A teacher who was supposed to be attending a conference to learn about how the new spring testing would be affecting her students was not able to attend the meeting because she did not want to leave her students with a sub in the excitement.

A threat was found at Ben's school today, specifically citing a week from today, March 20th. Why would a parent want to send their child to school that day? Can teachers and administrators really guarantee that their child will be safe? Will there really be a learning environment that day? Why would a teacher want to go to school knowing that their safety is endangered by teenagers?

It's a sunny, mild-ish day. We had parent-teacher conferences last night, so my school had a half-day today. I ran some errands and did some grading. I was snuggled up in bed, in a half-nap with a cat and a little sunshine, and I get a call from the superintendent of Ben's school notifying parents that there was a threat made at his school. But don't worry--we have it all under control. Your child is safe. But is my husband? What if the next time someone doesn't find a threat? What if next time there is no threat made but the teenager just goes through with a plan? Of course "what ifs" only drive me or anyone crazy, but they're still valid. My biggest fear resurfaced unexpectedly--what if Ben is gone, suddenly and irrevocably? What would I do? Why would I stay here? Why would I stay at my job? And now, of course, how could I possibly raise a child alone? Sometimes I just can't ignore the What Ifs. And furthermore, I find myself more and more dwelling on the question of why would I want to put my child in the public school environment? These several issues are simply ones that have affected me within the last three days of teaching, and those certainly aren't all of the concerns or problems that have surfaced recently. I'm not in control of any of them, and I'm expected to be okay with that. Maybe I'm not, really. Maybe what really bugs me sometimes about education is that I'm not in control of very much at all. That makes the What Ifs of my life very potent poisons to my mental supports.

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