I Am My School Districts Slave

I am a public school teacher, which to many people may seem like an ideal job with weeks of vacation and summers off. But the reality is nothing that any compassionate human being should envy or scoff at. Over the past decade the public school system has become a machine measured by the scores of state assessments and yearly growth. I am a cog in that machine. The failure of state assessments has prompted the implementation of countless programs and interventions that require hours extra work and that barely make a dent. The humanity in public education has been all but eliminated and replaced by programs designed to close the achievement gap. Programs that have include unattainable requirements that no normal human being can possibly achieve unless they are in fact not human.

When I began teaching all I wanted to do was to share my experience, knowledge and passion for life and learning with my students. I love learning and I love teaching and I believe I have an natural aptitude for my chosen profession. But my school district has other ideas about what education means. To those who earn the six figure salaries in my district, education means producing data that shows that they are justified in earning over $100,000 a year. They've implemented programs that require all teachers to follow a strict curriculum guide including pre and post tests for each of the seven units we must teach during the year. We must now create lessons that not only meet the state standards but also align with the school district's tests. We must start each unit with a pretest that takes at least 10 hours to grade and report. At the end of the unit we must give a post test, which requires more time to grade and report, in order to prove student growth. The post test is revealed just 5 days before the end of the unit and 80 percent of the students must pass or teachers could lose their jobs. In addition to this we must prepare lesson plans to match these tests and the state standards. We are also required to create and grade our own in-class tests. This is not all that a teacher's job entails. In addition to lesson plans, district tests and in-class tests, teachers must grade all of our student's work (homework, quizzes, etc); differentiate our lessons to accommodate the learning deficiencies of low achieving students; attend teacher training sessions; attend meetings with other teachers and administrators on a weekly basis; attend school board and PTA meetings; attend parent teacher conferences four times a year; meet with parents whose children are misbehaving or failing because they don't do their school work; give up our lunch and planning time to tutor students; work lunch and bus duty; plan and attend field trips as well as several overnight camping trips for the school; coach after school sports; chaperone school dances and other school events; read and reply to over 50 emails a day; fill out paperwork and surveys every week; and attend or organize at least a dozen other school related activities required by the school district. At least three days a week I never leave my classroom, except for hall duty, I don't even have time to go to the bathroom. Somewhere in here we are also required to teach and manage our classes and be aware of the needs of all of our students to make sure they are happy and stable at our school. When a student refuses to do the work and has a failing grade, the school district tells us we must create alternate assignments for them so they can pass, even if they aren't performing at grade level. I work over 80 hours a week, seven days a week without a single day off for weeks at a time. My health is suffering and I have no time to spend with my family and can't even think about doing anything for myself because I spend ALL of my time working for the school district.

My humanity has been completely crushed by the workload the school district has piled on top of me. I know that I am not alone because at least one teacher a day breaks down into tears, but knowing I'm not alone doesn't make it okay. I work this hard because I care about my students. My school district makes me work this hard because they care about their reputation and care about saving their six figure income jobs. The school district doesn't care about the students or teachers, they care only about themselves. I know this because when they told us that they would be cutting our salaries and support staff this year they enthusiastically added that their new curriculum program has been praised by other school districts throughout the country! In fact, every meeting they've had with us this year has been about how much more they're cutting and how wonderful they think they are. They talk endlessly about how proud they are of what they've done, but barely acknowledge what the teachers have done for them. They have no idea how much the workload has destroyed the lives of the teachers. They simply expect us to implement impossible programs without proper training or an ounce of support. I truly feel like I don't matter.
wildflowers426 wildflowers426
41-45, F
May 6, 2012