Sarah Carr's Times-Picayune article concerning the unsustainable demands on teachers in New Orleans' public schools is an example of good reporting.
Married to a 13-year veteran of the schools, Editor B posts his reaction point by point. Brutal indeed, but a fantastic read. Do yourself a favor and read his.
From all the young teachers I know and the training I recieved, B's concern "These kids are too young and fresh to realize they’re being exploited," hits home the hardest.
After hearing how bad things were in the schools in 2006, I went through teachNOLA's summer institute and taught in the RSD for the 2007-2008 school year.
During training, there was an omnipresent theme of "your classroom vs. the world." Having experienced plenty of "bunker mentality" in the restaurant kitchens where I've worked, I recognized that was what they were teaching.
Bunker mentality works in the restaurant business, when you get slammed and are in the weeds for a few hours, because you know at some point, dinner service is going to end and you get to go home and stop thinking about work.
When I was teaching, the bunker mentality lasted from the first day of teacher training in June of 2007 to the last day of school in June 2008. I have a tremendous work ethic. I put up with a lot of crap. But after that year, I gave SAWB permission to break my fing legs if I ever decided to teach children again, ever.
Back to the bunker mentality, I know they have to do this, as in so many school situations that is the truth on the ground: disengaged administration, colleagues hostile to "new" teachers or outsiders. I was lucky to land in a good school situation (relatively speaking) and I know it.
But with all the energy that was going into training and institute and everything we were doing, I always wondered why there wasn't more focus on changing the system. There were an awful lot of my colleagues, new and experienced, who didn't even make it the year I did.
A lot of other teachers (new & experienced) did fantastic jobs, designing lessons, learning (or re-learning) classroom control on the go, designing best practices where there were none before, creating progress prone cultures in very difficult circumstances.
All of this and they raised test scores.
Their reward? Getting surplused at the end of the year. That's where the school system doesn't "fire" you, but says they have too many teachers and you have to apply for a new spot, teaching a different subject to different grade levels at a different school with different colleagues and a different professional culture.
And if you think that would piss you off, watch what happens when a system official tells you that the same day the system supervisor announces how happy he is that "nearly 200 new Teach for America students will be joining us to help put teachers in our classrooms."
Updates: Former teacher Em calls it the Vortex of Doom
G-Bitch references a completely different T-P article.
Jeffrey reminds us that this crap ain't gonna stop any time soon, no matter who we vote for.