claybair on mon 11 aug 03
I have a long history in and out of public school systems.
I was educated in a public school system. I endured
bad teachers, thrived with good teachers
and saw the politics and prejudices from the student side.
After teaching in Headstart for 4 years I substitute taught for a week
in the Philadelphia PA school district. I made it through 5 whole
days and realized I would go insane or be killed if I continued
one more day! I was an art sub. in some pretty heavy neighborhoods in
The teachers would march their classes down to the basement art classes.
I would watch them, ruler in hand, whack the kids to keep them in line.
The other tried and true method for them was twisting ears.
I was horrified and refused to resort to any physical violence.
Naturally with no threat of pain and a sub for one day .....the kids went
Hey, 3/4 of those elementary school kids towered over me.
I was doomed....... there was no way
I could control them except to yell.
With my experience now I could
probably deal with that type of situation but not then.
The rest of my experience was the 1000s of
hours I volunteered in my kids schools and
becoming a school board director.
You have missed some very important areas
directly responsible for conditions in our public schools.
1. Required testing.
It was my experience that as soon as one method of testing was established
and beginning to show patterns it would be replaced by another. These
of testing seemed to me to be financially and politically motivated e.g. the
good ole boy system
hierarchy, who was considered an "expert" who also oddly enough had
got the contract with the district/state.
The politics are revolting and exist in every school district.
What would you think of a superintendent whose main objective
was his paycheck, keeping his cronies in power and to
be in any school as little as possible? There was a study years ago
which determined the percentages of school funding. The greatest
amount went to administration. I spent 10 count them 10 years trying to
get one little elementary school's bathrooms cleaned so they didn't
stink like public restrooms. After being utterly frustrated for 10 years
I got so pissed off I ran for school board and won.
Administrators pick the standards, if they are incompetent they
stress out good teachers never take the blame for their mistakes.
Administrators "advise" the school boards. They manipulate the board
directors with information that glorifies their desires instead of giving
Another ploy is to overwhelm the board directors with reams of information
which is delivered to the board director shortly before the next meeting.
They also support their cronie (good ole boy system again) board directors,
contractors taking low ball bids then paying for horrendously jacked up work
They cleverly hide bullshit expenses in a budget that would give a CPA a
So by the time it comes to the kids there is little left for services,
supplies and decently
Now Joyce don't have a cow..... but I would:
Eliminate the bulk of high priced administrators.
Have the budget regularly reviewed (not in house).
Give the teachers more power and say in the
testing systems and have that independently reviewed.
Reward the good teachers and remediate or fire the poor ones
(instead of shuffling them around to other schools or bumping them
up into an administration position where they do even more damage).
Get parents into the schools volunteering their services and time.
Get the community businesses & churches involved.... mentoring,
volunteering services, sponsoring etc.
Allow senior citizens to get credit toward their school taxes by tutoring
a win-win situation.... have this occur in local religious facilities.
The system can be fixed but first you have to turn over the rocks and make
snakes & rat tunnels under it are dispatched and a solid foundation put in
I have lots more to say on this subject but I will stop now. I just wanted
to make a point
that teachers are actually fairly low in the education hierarchy.....
& don't get me started on the state level!!!!:-)
Unfortunately, I fear, this rant will never be over!!!!
Gayle Bair -
Bainbridge Island, WA
Well, that's my rant. Once you teachers can band together for a better
stronger academic course for the children, and teach it, we parents and
will back you. The only thing I see you asking for is more money, better
benefits, and smaller classrooms. Those are not what a dedicated teacher
worrying about. A dedicated teacher is horrified at the courses the children
are being taught, suspensions, the detentions that require the child to do
nothing, and the fact that children are escaping your notice about the
read. And, the fact that so many inept people are calling themselves
and should be required to take Achievement tests. And Aptitude tests. And
duly licensed. And going to school in the summer to refresh their skills.