Thursday, September 04, 2014

Tales From Teaching's Front Lines

My sample size is small, but I just cannot find a happy teacher. They are happy with their private lives, but their job satisfaction and enjoyment levels are in the gutter. A recent survey supports this hunch and the anecdotal evidence as teacher happiness is at generational lows. The job is stressful and the challenges are high. I got some dirt from a new teacher in an Indianapolis township grade school (or did I, this could all be made up). This teacher teaches first graders. How bad can it be? Pretty bad, so let's roll on. This is a teacher at a Township school; not the awful IPS system.

1. How big is the class? 30 kids.

2. Does the teacher have a teacher's aide? No.

3. How many people showed up at PTA meetings? 7 people total, including grandparents.

4. Does the class have desks? No. Chairs only. Chairs can have a cloth bag that hangs off the back so the kid can have their stuff in said bag.

5. Do kids have to stay seated during class? No, kids are allowed to wonder off whenever.

6. Can the teacher discipline kids? No.

7. Can the teacher give negative messages to students? No, only positive statements can be made to students.

8. Come on, if the kid acts up enough she can tell him? No, if the kid acts up enough the teacher can invite the parent to the class to sit with their child.

9. Won't that lead to out of control kids? Yes, a kid was expelled in the first week for fighting.

10. No desks, but they have everything else, right? Wrong. Teachers buy books to send home with the kids to read on assignment.

11. Come on, haven't schools been getting more funding? Yes, this school system won a Race to the Top grant.

12. See, that should pay for supplies, doesn't it? Wrong, it does pay for Chromebooks though.

If this isn't a poor school, where does all the money go? That is a great question.

An article by a black pastor or radio personality bemoaned the white flight in township schools. In his mind, the white flight is wrong and racist. Remember, there is NO DIFFERENCE between any child in any trait, so why would those white kids leave??? Parents are fleeing to private schools and other suburbs because of the above. He conveniently skips over the middle class blacks of Lawrence Township who added a new requirement for students: prove your residency. By doing this, they hoped to place a velvet rope around their schools from lower class kids spilling over from the IPS schools. Did not work. Lawrence also instituted magnet schools, which started out as magnet, then forced all elementary kids to go to one magnet or the other. This also coincidentally pushed the growing Hispanic population into the Spanish immersion magnet school. Lawrence Township is now a school where your 16 year old will graduate from the high school, but no way is your 8 year old staying in the system. The question and answer section above is from another township, but it is the same in any of the townships. The IPS schools turned bad, but the Townships were good. The Townships are turning bad, but the next ring of suburbs are good (and brand spanking new).

The Chromebooks, Ipads, laptops and what not are key. The school might be empty and be a zoo, but they have a Chromebook, so with
Mastery Learning methods, these six year olds can get a direct education customized to them. In reality, Mastery Learning is meant to limit what is taught. This way all students engage with say six topics, and due to limited breadth of thinking or needed aptitude, you can hammer away at kids so that everyone scores relatively close (close the gap!), and equality is achieved. At a functional level, this really destroys the role of the teacher. Everyone has at least one teacher that helped them, that pushed them or believed in them. What is the teacher for if the Chromebook is going to teach them and a parent has to read to them their assigned books? maybe Google can give kids pep talks. Teaching was once a profession that had a long tenure, building institutional knowledge for the school as a unit. I cannot hear the stories, see the surveys and think teaching, in the future, will exist beyond churn and burn.


peterike said...

Teaching is horrible at the top and at the bottom. The bottom goes without saying: cognitively impaired NAMs with no impulse control, and since you can't physically discipline them anymore (the Ur-mistake of modern pedagogy) they run rampant.

At the high end, in tony private schools, the kids know damn well they are your social superiors. They casually tell you "I have fuck you money" and say charming things like "my father can buy and sell you" to the teachers.

The best is the middle class white suburb with maybe some Asians thrown into the mix. Sensible, striving kids, though even there the psychological problems are many, drug use very high in high schools, medicated, zonked out children all over the place.

If this isn't a poor school, where does all the money go? That is a great question.

There's a simple answer. Graft. The level of thievery in schools must be monumental. Can you imagine in a black controlled school district that gets handed tens of millions a year in tax dollars, how many do-nothing jobs get created, how many "training" junkets administrators will go on (happens to be a very important seminar in Las Vegas this week), how many supplies are stolen, how many maintenance contracts are handed out to cronies at inflated prices with kickbacks.

Schools can be like the defense department. They will buy common materials at hugely inflated prices. I'm assuming this still goes on. I remember decades back seeing a supply catalog for a company that sells to schools. I wanted to get some Shakespeare video -- Olivier's Hamlet I think -- which you could get anywhere for like twenty bucks, and in the school supplies catalog it was $400. Hey, whatever, not our money! But since I worked for a private Catholic school that struggled with money, we didn't purchase such things.

Maybe Nikcrit knows if this kind of thing is still common.

Anonymous said...

Public schools are a great example of Steve Sailer's Core America vs. Fringe America thesis. Make the schools as welcoming to Fringe America as possible, then wonder why they don't exhibit the values of Core America.

Anonymous said...

Putin invites Chinese into Core Russian Oilfield because of US Sanctions You might hit the FT paywall, but here is another entry into your Russia/Chinese petro axis clipfile.

eah said...

...where does all the money go?

Pensions top $100,000 for 42% of District 211 retired educators

The 630 educators who retired from District 211 averaged pension payments of $86,982 last year, almost twice the state average, according to records from the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System,

Of those District 211 retirees, 268 -- or 42.5 percent -- received pensions of $100,000 or more in 2012.

nikcrit said...

RE: how many do-nothing jobs get created, how many "training" junkets administrators will go on (happens to be a very important seminar in Las Vegas this week), how many supplies are stolen, how many maintenance contracts are handed out to cronies at inflated prices with kickbacks

Yep...take a peak at this story; a local outrage in my humble hamlet several years ago:

THere have been 'elected' school-board members who literally cannot read; i kid you not.