Wednesday, March 30, 2005

What Happens When Teachers Are Left Behind?

I hear it daily, "Can I stay in here this period?"
"Why," I ask knowing the answer.
"I don't want to go to (fill in name) class. All he does is write the questions on one board and the answers on the other board. We copy them all down while he yells at us if we ask a question."

Welcome to Teaching to the Test. Exploration, creativity, motivation are gone. They're also gone from the students. On the rare occasions students are requested to write an original paper the internet is coughed out onto the printed pages. No one cares about plagiarism. No one cares about interpreting thoughts, presenting an original thought, or using a brain given by God or evolved from earlier life forms.

Many teachers want to teach. Just as many are waiting for retirement. Just as many never knew how to teach. However, all are protected by the teachers union. The union long lost sight of what is good for the student. However, the union knows what is good for itself, political power. The group that never knew how to teach do not like students, but like working 180-days-per-year. During the first few weeks of school I hear how long before fall break. Then how long before Christmas break. I state Christmas break instead of holiday break. So much for political correctness. After Christmas we can all worry about when is Spring break, then it's just a few short weeks until school is out for the summer. Yeah! No child left behind, just teaching skills.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Winter? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Winter

I watched the snow fall and drift into mounds against the side of the metal, portable classroom. The north wall had very little factory installed insulation that slowed the transfer of outside cold to inside cold. The opposite effect of the south wall in the summer. The drift was now about three feet tall. Surely our fearless superintendent would have no choice, but to call for a snow day.

What is that annoying beeping sound? It seemed to have started off in the distance and was getting closer. Or is it getting louder? Now, I feel as if someone has dumped a bucket of warm water on my face. Wanna-be jokesters often state, "It's not the fall that hurts. It's that sudden stop at the end." I didn't laugh when I hit the floor, with the alarm clock beeping loudly, and my pound-puppy licking my face. I looked up to the couch I had just fell from. The morning sunlight was just beginning it's descent down the city water tank. The concrete tank had become my prime view since it's construction was completed two years earlier. Five-thirty always came much to soon on school mornings. The round thermometer hanging from the broken storm window showed a balmy forty-nine degrees. Another dream of snow melted away.

Four hours later I was listening to another one of the many central office liaisons drone on about No Child Left Behind and how all teachers need to be "highly qualified". Apparently, highly qualified has little to do with certification, degrees, and what you know. It does have everything to do with how much paperwork you can complete. This meeting had gone on to long, but it had given two liaisons excuses to exist for the past hour. Their excitement was wasted on us, but not on each other. They enjoyed comparing "war stories" of their heady days of teaching and the wonderful jobs they had done. After all, that is why they had been asked to transfer to the central office. Perfection!

My students do not care about highly qualified. They care if their teacher is there. For most, it is a "constant" they need. Someone that can be counted on for direction, stability, Ramen Noodles, a small degree of understanding, and discipline. Not one of them live in a two parent home. Only one has had contact with their father. Three of them live with a guardian under the guise of State's Custody. The metal, portable classroom is their anchor in the sea of unrest known as life.

The liaison ask me to sign the latest of the NCLB forms qualifying me as not highly qualified. It didn't matter what I signed. By the next day I believed the "rules" from the federal government would change and No Child Left Behind will morph again. Has the Department of Education in Washington ever educated one child? The understanding that every child should go to college only poses the question to me of: How am I going to get my car repaired or my rusted bathroom pipes replaced? I can't get a house built because the future electricians, drywaller, framers, inspectors, drivers, etc, etc, etc, are to busy in college. This is surely the dark winter of logic in education. Winter? We don't need no stinkin' winter.