Former Teacher RANT

In Education, Somewhat disjointed rant... on December 4, 2012 at 12:48 am

I was bitter when I left education, but I never talked about it. I had great colleagues, great students, and great parents. I would never want my frustration to diminish the greatness of what I learned and the people I met and taught. What I lacked was a good employer. I worked for a school system in the state of Georgia. I direct all of my frustration at my former employer. On days when I’m not quite sure why I’m in law school, I think about all of the legally deplorable situations that I was in as a teacher–and suddenly, I become William Wallace. Let me explain why…

1. School systems cleverly pay teachers a salary, rather than paying them by the hour. The fact that I was paid a salary meant that I was due no overtime. Teacher conferences, PTA meetings, school events, plays, teacher workdays, and time spent preparing my classroom for students was not compensable EVEN IF IT EXCEEDED 40 hours per week. Even though I was essentially an hourly employee, with no ability to work flex time (I couldn’t come in an hour late and stay an hour longer, for instance). I once had a principal explain to me that all of that was calculated into my base salary. Right. Oh. Ok.

2. I never felt that I got the disciplinary support that I needed. I  had a student call me a man…several times…to my face. I once had a student rummage through my personal belongings. I experienced several instances of students bullying each other. None of these students (Manly, Rummagey, or the Bullies) were ever suspended or even sent to in-school suspension. I was once told that I CAN’T expect students not to do things like that. BUT, my employer expected me to be able to teach 3 courses to 2 grades at the same time (for the record, I was teaching SIX different subjects each with its own academic standards EVERY day). CAN’T? Right. Oh. Ok.

3. When I tried to institute my own disciplinary procedures, I got in even more trouble. Yeah, I said it. TROUBLE. Indeed. The students weren’t called to the office; but I sure was! Boy, oh, boy. I got called on the carpet for yelling; for things that I said to fellow teachers; for things that I should have said to fellow teachers; for being absent too much; for not sitting in chairs properly (really happened). But, when I send a student to the office for physically hitting another student? Naaaaaah, send him back to class. He’ll be just fine. Right. Oh. Ok.

4. Teacher’s contracts are terrible. Believe it or not, they’re about two pages long. They always refer to some blasted addendum. What ADDENDUM? It’s available upon request? I don’t know about that; now, I’m not a contracts law genius or anything but, it seems to me that the addendum should be furnished to each person who is in the acceptance process. Oh, it would cost too much to produce that many addenda? Well, maybe you should STOP TRYING TO PULL A FAST ONE ON YOUR EMPLOYEES BY SLIPPING EVERY ACCURSED THING INTO THE ADDENDUM. For me, not signing that last contract I received was a feeling of freedom like no other. There’s a copy of the addendum in the media center? Right. Oh. Ok.

5. Pay teachers a living wage. Period. Many of my colleagues had second jobs and side hustles. Being a teacher COSTS a lot of money. From markers, to transparencies, to posters,  to educational games, teachers buy and/or make a lot of things in their classrooms. That’s money that they will never see again, because it’s not like anyone is going to buy all of that stuff from them. Teachers who retire or leave the profession do the same thing I did when I left: I GAVE THINGS AWAY. Was all that captured in my salary, too? Right. Oh. Ok.

6. IEPs are a serious thing. Students who need individualized education plans deserve the same quality of education as every other student. I’m not quite sure how a triplicate form with check-boxes on it could be individualized, but let’s pretend that such  a form is individualized. It seems to me that the teachers who teach the student should have an overwhelming voice (along with the parents) regarding which boxes are checked. But, no. An IEP (in my experience) is not collaborative document of a collaborative process. It is a mere CYA formality so that the employer can say: HERE IT IS. All the while, however, the teachers are left with very little support to help a student who needs and deserves help. But, it will all turn out ok in the end! Right. Oh. Ok.

If I seem frustrated and angry, that’s because I am. My employer treated me terribly, and expected me to thank them for it. I was sad to leave the kids and my colleagues. But, now, the school systems of Georgia can do nothing to me; I know all of their tricks; I’ve seen all of their cards; I am familiar with all of their mis-truths. I am outside of the box. But, justice is calling.




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