Not a valid excuse

In recent days I continued to read editorials and letters concerning school districts keeping teachers who were flawed in some way because, according to them, the teachers’ union fought their dismissal. I’m here to say that such an excuse is hooey. What I saw in my long career, time after time, was that the administrators did not do the necessary paperwork to fire the teacher, or did not do it correctly.

Believe me, teachers do not want the rats and perverts as colleagues any more than parents want them around their children. However, unions exist to help those innocent teachers who are accused, or those who discover someone has it out for them. That is the union’s job. What we teachers always wished was that the administrators had done their job just as effectively. That’s one of the things they were getting paid for. Time after time, they bumbled. Where was THAT story in the media?

7 a.m. walking to get the paper

Earthworms,
legions,
multitudes,
litter the asphalt
like scratches on old celluloid film.
Bradley’s rooster
gripping the fencepost
crows
and the next door neighbor
leans out his door to yell,
“Cockle-doodle-do!”
in response.
I tell the hens roosting
in the apple tree
they are silly girls.
Mist falls from the
one-shade-of-gray sky
Another homespun morning
here on South Prairie Lane,
a most splendid beginning.

–c. 2008 KDK

Schools in the News

Two articles came out in the news today concerning how schools deal with problems. How schools get rid of teachers accused (and guilty) of sex offenses was one topic; the other focused on schools that pay their students for attending and for doing well on state/federal measurement testing.
As a retired educator, I could write volumes about how I think schools should be run. I’ve seen plenty and wondered plenty about how things could be better. I have taught in schools where the practice of giving creepy teachers a severance check and moving them on elsewhere was in force. Like so many unfair things in life, the creeps got paid off for being creeps while the good teachers just got their barely above minimum wage salaries. I see no difference between schools pushing bad teachers out to another school and the Catholic Church sending bad priests on to other churches. I’m thrilled that some school districts are now refusing to write references for teachers who have engaged in criminal acts, instead of giving them promises of confidentiality as to why they were let go, health insurance for six months, and a fat severance check. Those kind of people should be nowhere around children.
Should students be paid for attending school and doing well on mandated tests? All of us hope and wish that schools were so good that every student would find the inner motivation to be there every day and excel. The truth is that it’s hard to find inner motivation if you are rarely at school to begin with and your parents are so overwrought with daily life they neglect to encourage you scholastically. Money speaks to every income level and more so to the districts where there is not enough money to live or eat. As was pointed out in the news segment, rich kids get these financial incentives as a matter of course. Do well this semester and we’ll take you to Italy during summer break. Do well on your SAT’s and we’ll give you a car. If you get a hundred percent on your spelling test, you can go to the movie Saturday. If you pass the math test, I’ll buy you a guitar. $100 for every A, $75 for every B…
Here’s how I think it works: You get the kids there, and paid for good work according to their success, and it doesn’t take long before the love of the learning takes over, and the pride in accomplishment, and the money earned becomes sooner or later secondary to learning. If you want it to work even better, you teach those kids the benefit in saving their money in savings accounts for college. You take them to a bank and you show them and their parents how to get a savings account. The kids know they are headed for college. Their parents know the students are headed to college and they become cheerleaders for the future. You get cooperation and support from home and there’s nothing a student can’t do. If it works, don’t knock it. And in the meantime, put even more money into schools so the kids have good books, good teachers, good programs and good organic lunches. If you aren’t willing to support schools, then why would students ever think what they do there is of utmost importance?