Why So Glum?

To paraphrase a question asked of one of my co-workers today- a parent at our school wondered why so many of the teachers, usual sources of good cheer, seem disaffected from the get-go this year.

Poor pay?  Well, most teachers have seen a significant decrease in their pay again this year, yes, but…

Class size?  Well, most teachers at our school are in fact experiencing very large classes again this year, yes, but…

Blah Blah Blah- these are the constant winds blowing in our faces, and we have generally  been able to let them blow by… so what is the proverbial straw that is breaking our back to school?

Teachers are being made to conform to rules set by Hannah Skandera on behalf of Susana Martinez, bureaucratic procedures in the name of accountability, that do nothing to make education better, but will create some awesome busywork for teachers.  The rules are about how teachers are to be evaluated, and were set into place by bypassing the legislature, by someone who cannot get confirmed as the Secretary of Education, because she does not have the legal qualifications for the job.  The teachers’ union filed suit, which was dismissed, and the union seems to be taking no apparent further action.

This is the straw, because teachers feel like they have no recourse.  Many of the teachers at our school, after our first days of these revelations,  had open conversation about other careers or jobs they are considering.    Teachers can then be replaced by script readers of canned curriculum, much less costly to employ, and “teaching” will at last be an hourly job, a stepping stone for more serious career paths.

Teachers want real accountability.  This isn’t it.  This is just a PR stunt.  Have you seen a bad teacher fired?   What about that awesome house cleaning in Rhode Island, where the mayor fired all those “bad apples?”  Nope.  Didn’t happen.  I wonder how much it cost to put on that appearance of reform.  The teacher’s union and APS worked for an alternative evaluation system that passed both the House and Senate last year, and was pocket vetoed by Susana Martinez.  She doesn’t just want reform.  There are major publishing companies making money off of our childrens’ education here in New Mexico, and allegations of corruption are piling up.

Susana Martinez and Hannah Skandera continue to accuse teachers of being comfortable with the status quo, but actually reverting to textbooks and publishers’ standardized tests is the status quo.  In fact, it was the fifties!  Education moved on.  We found that in order to teach innovation, we need to have examples of independent thought in our classrooms.  Innovation is an American value.  Individualism, not corporate group think, is what America was built upon.  Education is about individual dialogue and relationships.

People are worried that teaching is no longer a profession.  This is a national trend.  If there is care for the profession, there should be outrage about the current proclamations from the Governor’s office, which circumvented the legal system.

New Mexico, on Governor Martinez’s watch, has officially hit bottom as a place to raise children.  Number fifty.  Shouldn’t we at least be using our own legal processes to install education policy, rather than just foist it on the public?  Education must be a safe haven from the unscrupulous mixing of public and private funds.  Teaching, the development of curricula and tests, should be done by highly qualified teachers in small classrooms.  All these other smoke and mirrors tactics are just politics.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Why So Glum?

  1. Thank you. Well said. I am a “career” teacher…. year 29 for me. And, yes, I feel beat down. I am so damn tired of having constantly parade around and fight for my right to be well paid for job well done. I won’t cure cancer or build the next great spaceship….. I teach and I teach well and with passion. Maybe one of my students will cure cancer or design the future of space travel…. or maybe be a teacher.

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