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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Duval Teachers are speaking out

From the Florida Times Union

by Idolfan

Teachers are speaking out. When they do they are often reprimanded and in some cases retaliated against. When I entered the system it was wonderful and I worked in a failing school. The teachers supported one another and the principal supported us by having strong expectations and discipline set for the kids as well as the teachers. The atmosphere has completely changed and I think many teachers are frustrated and if they could find another job they would. Many do. My first few years I absolutely loved teaching and everything about not so much and it isn't the kids. The good majority of Kids will rise to the expectations you set for them whether you are a parent or educator. However when you are told to set high expectations and have ''RIGOR" in your classroom and hold the students accountable for doing the right things....BUT then when they don't someone comes along and says ''it's ok we're going to pass you anyways'' WHAT IS THE POINT?

Teachers are held accountable at every level. We have huge binders in which we have to show dates of everytime a student acts up and all the interventions we tried before we wrote them up, all the data we collect for the myriad of tests students (all 140) take throughout the year (and there are plenty mandated for us to take that don't even include tests on classroom learning). I have to have lesson plans that lay out every detail I'm doing in my classroom. Not to mention my word wall, my standards based bulletin board, and my standards, essential questions, objectivs, warm up, work period, closing, homework posted everyday on the board. (which NONE of the kids ever read). In addition I'm called into meetings AT LEAST three times a week so they can again tell me what is expected of me. Administrators were in rooms day 1 of school already evaluating teachers.

Now I can deal with all this even if it ticks me off from time to time. What i can't deal with is the policies that don't hold students accountable. We're already seeing the first week of school behavior that warrants referrals...yet you can't write one yet. Not til you try a seat change time out, phone or email home, warnings, team detention after school (and yeah that's on your time). Kids know they can misbehave without any REAL consequences and often the bad kids you guys have labeled thugs are actually good kids who have been sucked into doing bad because they see others doing it. Plus, Kids know they don't have to do any work to pass. They have seen their older brothers and sisters be passed without doing any work other than their computer ''grade recovery'' that is basically a game that reads you the questions and you keep answering til you get right. I justifiably failed many students last year who did nothing (many told me it was ok they'd pass anyways). ALL of them failed the FCAT too. But this year they are ALL sitting in schools (all intervene schools by the way) in the next grade. Is it any wonder these schools continue to fail? And is any wonder our drop out and failure to graduate with an actual diploma is so high when we keep passing kids up who are not on grade level in reading and math. Either get rid of the test or make it actually mean something. (besides just teacher salaries). "Look you need to do this work, pass this test, and do well in school so you can get the REAL diploma and a decent job'' often falls on deaf ears that are too young to even conceptualize tomorrow.

This is not about being a liberal or conservative. This is about teaching our next generation. We have teachers who are members of both parties at my school and I can tell you ALL voice the same concerns about discipline and passing kids on. Paddling worked when I was in school because no one was exempt from it. The fear of it kept most of us in check. Our teachers could also hit us and that kept us in check. BUT even when I began teaching we still had paddling in the county. It was not widely used. Parents had the choice of opting their students out of paddling and they did. But with no paddling there are still discipline options. Like believing the teacher when he or she says this student cursed me out, rather than pulling in five other students to get the ''real story about what happened''.

In the last two weeks I have worked 16 EXTRA hours outside of my normal work day. This was not to even do grading (that's this weekend). It was to get my room set up with all the proper ''artifacts" and their labeling and to get my notebook set up and start gathering and looking at data. AND I'm not even one of those teachers that go above and beyond who worked last Saturday and stayed til dark. We are all doing this for less pay than before too. I had 50 dollars taken out of my paycheck thanks to Rick Scott and if you don't think that is much...think of a tank of gas that gets me to work. Teachers are not working for the money, they are not working for the acclaim, they are not working for the fantastic benefits. They are working for the children and their future. We need support and not constant blame and we need a voice that is listened to by the powers that be. But currently that is not happening And don't blame the teacher's unions for this mess. They are actually pretty much ineffective and weak in this county. Good teachers have been fired and weak teachers (who kiss butt better) have been kept all on DTU's watch.

All we hear is "This is DCPS policy. There is nothing we can do about it. Please adhere to it so you can be successful."

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