And there is a drastic difference between legitimately identifying bad, incompetent teachers and using that as a blanket stereotype to bash all teachers; teachers doing the best they can with scanter and scanter resources, teachers whose performance would exponentially improve, be unrecognizable in a positive direction if provided said resources.
Sentiments brought out surrounding growing teacher walkouts across the nation public comment going something like this, why should we pay teachers more money when they don’t appear to know anything, are so ill-educated themselves and do so abysmally at teaching our children the most basic things their parents could probably achieve at home? To saying teachers knew from the time they went to college in order to enter the profession precisely what they would be paid, the pay range available when you teach pre-k to 12, tone implying how dare they ask for more money; usually with a side of shouting about the ‘all powerful’ teachers unions negotiating bloated salaries for, mediocre at best, educators and who devised a system to keep knowingly bad teachers on the job, still receiving paychecks through lengthy, years long review processes for conduct, if remotely proven true, mandates expedient firing. Others surely look at teachers making headlines for everything from inappropriate sexual contact with students, one’s suspicious behavior prompted surveillance; him soon caught on camera kissing a 10 year old male student on the lips. Running off with students, Tad Cummings to the soccer coach who got around school policies having the girl place him on contact paperwork as her step father; to the teachers nationwide treated like catholic priests passed from one school, one district to the other as long as they don’t have to confront said teachers and the sexual misconduct, abuse they’ve visited upon students, manage the fallout. If it’s not that it’s violent, vial behavior caught on video; dragging grade schoolers down hallways, standing complacent as school resource officers toss students around like rag dolls, body slam them to the ground over ‘fights’ that haven’t even begun yet and handcuff grade schoolers for kicks to their shin; thus citizens are rightfully incredulous at the idea of paying them more. This blog author themselves outraged a teacher caught on school surveillance camera dragging a 7 year old down a hallway was able to cite improper, non-existent training and be reinstated into their job, a principal caught doing the same in a different school; video coming to light as disciplinary boards considered letting her return to school post a leave of absence. Others caught abusing students with special needs in various ways, including berating and bullying them for being special needs; asking one girl “are you that damn dumb” and when she complained about running on a treadmill for wrong answers saying do you wanna do something about that belly, making assumptions about what she eats, why she doesn’t walk to shed belly fat, though she responds he parents are busy, cognitively incapable of going on walks alone. Father of a limited verbal autistic boy recording his son after school staff reports of violent outbursts incongruent with his honestly sweet nature to find him berated for talking to himself; enfolded also the story of a 10 year old suffering cerebral palsy and an aide who lectures him about not wanting to touch his drool, though his is wheelchair bound plainly not doing it so she can clean him/clean up after him. A Florida teacher accused of lacing an autism spectrum boy’s crayons with hot sauce to prevent his eating them instead of taking them away, trying to replace them with makers or colored pencils to see if he would continue trying to eat those; eventually reinstated into the classroom after being able to circumvent a court ruling with school board tribunal, who voted in favor of her return. Elsewhere a teacher and teacher’s aide threatening to tase an autistic boy stuck his chair thinking he could die after who knows how long of being left there and simultaneously threatened sans them ever telling him how to right his body, the faintest effort to see if he was truly stuck and how stuck; i.e. was he going to need adult help to get out? A middle school principal caught shouting profanity at students during a graduation rehearsal scuffle that encompassed pulling one student onto the stage and screaming “this is a retard” subsequently told to get out of her sight; reported to school administration only for the whistleblower to be fired. A special needs teacher shocked at the behavior she recorded of teaching assistant staff hauling students around the room by their shirts, smacking them in the head, throwing them to the ground; prompted to put recording equipment in her classroom post noticing some of their aggressiveness toward students. Her speaking under shadowed anonymity fearing firing and blacklisting from her profession if her employers find her comments to the AP. Yeah sure these are the types of administration we want to support, ocean front property an Arizona much; different teacher, different school student with eye condition trying to catch up on work missed due to forced absences brought on by aforementioned condition told she was the dumbest person he had ever met suggesting her purpose was “to have sex and have children because you aint never gunna be smart.” Another autistic student dragged down a hallway after a recess meltdown in which the teacher states he injured her eye, but a trained psychologist said it should never have gotten that far by using de-escalation tactics and keeping the child safe where he is. Teachers allowed to resign rather than face charges or too often simply dumped back into the classroom after slap on the wrist punishments like the one caught grabbing a first grader by the face and slamming his back into the wall, next dragging him back into the bathroom berating him so loud lunch ladies reported her; his offence taking too long in the bathroom or going without permission, her punishment a 10 day suspension rather than the immediate firing you’d expect. Teacher caught kneeing a special needs preschooler in the back then trying to step over his body to get through the door initially arrested but eventually only facing civil action from the boy’s mother in conjunction with his school who employed her. Most quickly conclude your teaching methods have gone off the rails to completely unacceptable when your ‘creative discipline’ involves slapping a high school kid who doesn’t even know what it was for because it was never explained, not that you should ever slap s student in the face to begin with, convincing classmates to hit the ‘class bully’ age 6 then instruct him not to tell his parents; no real evidence he ever was a bully, further friends in his class who didn’t want to hit him were forced to. So out of your depth your duct taping kids mouths closed who talk too much or locking them in closets, it’s time for another job, clearly. Along the same lines taxpayers read stories about teachers dumping pencil shavings down a student’s mouth for leaning their chair back on 2 legs and not paying attention, pulling a chair out from under a student dumping them in the floor for the same, washing a child’s mouth out with soap for supposed bad language and either start laughing remembering their time in class followed by talking about how bad kids are these days, how little they care about their educations and how taxing they are on long suffering teachers, believing their raise should have entirely different motives sad that it won’t happen. Or the more enlightened parents, citizens who want such persons fired, only 1 out of 3 above were removed from their jobs, because they understand while that may have been the way things were we and our parents where children in school, we know better tactics now, we need to use them, we know the dangers of putting soap in someone’s mouth; therefore the last thing we should do is pay subpar teachers exemplified by the above and more besides, that abuse and traumatize children like the 13 year old bullied by what his teacher called horseplay including shoving a sock in his mouth and innuendo about keeping the victims pants on, child rendered unable to sleep and in therapy, any money at all let alone elevating their salary by one red cent, as the saying goes. The former group completely oblivious to instances where it’s the teachers not the students who need a time out, discipline vis a vis the 3rd grade teacher denigrating students telling them to get a brain, unsure if they can grow one overnight; chastising the children for their parents not checking their work, in a mocking voice rehearsing what they should tell their parents instead of sending things home to parents at the beginning of the year outlining parent expectations the child will be graded on, understanding some parents don’t, for instance, speak/read English, the child whose parent, whatever the reason, can’t/doesn’t comply with your desired involvement for which they should not be punished because they cannot make their parent do it. One New York charter school’s rip and redo policy bad, detrimental enough without the teacher’s filmed tirade to the entire class on top of it, seemingly because she could not teach the math concept efficiently enough for the humiliated student to grasp it or consider broaching testing for a learning disability with their parent; behaviors swept under the rug because they get oh do good test score results. Teachers grabbing, spitting on and hitting students, flipping desks in what can only be described as adult temper tantrums themselves, but who can blame theme dealing with these kids today, right? That young teen not the only one negatively impacted by what was said/done to them at school by an adult supposed to be teaching them, the body shamed special need’s girl’s parents spurred into action unto controversially recording audio at school after she began self harming to avoid school, the 3rd grader whose class was screamed at for 3 solid hours it’s worth noting (only excepts played for the news segment) commented before the recording “maybe I should just die and relayed afterward today was the only day I wasn’t scared because whatever was said I knew you’d hear. When your method of getting kids attention means yanking a child’s baby teeth from their mouth obsessed with why they are chewing on their shirt classified special needs anyway, cutting another student’s braid because they were playing with it, throwing one more girl’s shoes in the trash for fiddling with them too much; on-looking only marginally civilized society, forget civilized society right to say pay them more for doing that? No one likewise interested in paying period, never mind hiking pay, for teachers found drunk on school property, the infamous teacher found on the first day of classes with no pants; Oklahoma 2014, is it really a surprise 4 years later they face a teachers strike for better wages, better resources, implication so they don’t have to handle situations like that? Substitute teachers drunk on campus and making a spectacle of themselves before the school day barely starts banging their head on the outside of the building may count less toward state funding issues for permanent staff, but plays a bigger role when considering the several jobs teachers have taken on to pay basic bills, contributes to burnout and ill health necessitating substitutes; to say nothing of the pool of substitute choices available when you’re paying the lowest nationally per day, week exc. for subs to take the abuse we all know is leveled at them. In Ohio a substitute found by another teacher sleeping off a bender in an empty classroom during a work period; parents rightly shocked and outraged by what they hear across the given years about who is in charge of their kids daily. 3 years later different school, different sub, same problem; Ohio a decidedly red state and we don’t think maybe it’s time to rethink what we’re doing to attract better qualified people? Arizona teacher discovered intoxicated by the class after lunch reported to the office post swearing at students had done this at least once before; certainly we should be in favor of allowing people to rebuild their lives after substance abuse, achieving sobriety even when that rebuild includes teaching. At the same time allowing a teacher back in class under those circumstances should mean more sobriety checks and regular check-ins with their sponsor, their counselors to prevent exactly what transpired; little coincidence again 4 years later Arizona is another one of the states whose teachers are striking for better pay, support staff wage increases, better resources, and again not hard to deduce so they can stop worrying about which of their colleagues might be under the influence at work, like they had so few things to worry about today in the first place. The public justifiably upset learning about students suspended for refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance, demonstrating the kind of ignorance educators are blasted for because he had a right not to stand by both the constitution further upheld by a 1943 supreme court decision stating no one in any level of authority can dictate how you show, or do not show national patriotism. Ignorance proving dangerous beyond threats to our democracy, political implication and group think indoctrination of school children in the case of the Pennsylvania 8th grader first berated by her teacher about her refusal to stand for the pledge, wrongly told by a well-meaning guidance counselor trying to defuse the situation during future pledge recitations she would be banished to the hallway then refused ability to call a parent and treatment by the school nurse because she didn’t say the pledge; nurse reportedly shouting when she asserted her right not to stand, “fine then leave I have the right not to service you,” careening right into medical negligence. Danger heightened exponentially when students are literally physically assaulted for refusing to say the pledge, violently hauled out of desks for the recitation; height of ironic in the video represented case the religious freedom crowd should balk considering he says instead of a flag he pledges to god and family. Supposed to be educators who tried to dock grades for similar protest be it government corruption, treatment of native Americans; students punished for taking a knee during national anthems played at high school sports games mirroring the national protests pushing back against police brutality leveled on people of color. Those responsible for education bent toward tolerance and acceptance of everyone spouting blatantly racist things, punishing students for speaking Spanish either as young and newly coming to the country or to school from a home where English is not the primary language spoken, spoken amongst themselves during classroom down time in higher grades; irony again rearing its ugly head in that the teacher who said this sounded like an immigrant herself, though from a different area, even to the point of telling the class said teacher thought soldiers died for her (the ‘offending’ student) to ‘speak American’ not Spanish, native speakers knowing the term is speak English not American. Soldiers and others promptly speaking out they did not serve, get injured, be willing to die for a flag, an anthem and did all of the above so she, anyone can speak whatever language they choose; another teacher in social hot water for allegedly calling a mixed race, at least part African American, child a mutt following in the footsteps of teachers dismissed from jobs for calling now former first lady Michelle Obama a gorilla, certainly not ‘educators’ we would dream of rewarding. Teachers who don’t have degrees in the subjects they teach, do not possess collegiate education in various aspects of education, classroom management, how to teach reading/math to beginners, student engagement for older grades though middle and high school, depending on which sector they plan to teach pre-k, elementary or secondary instruction; would be teaching students rather put through an X weeks long training course and funneled into the classroom, usually at the elementary or middle school level. Student journalists uncovering administrators counterfeit credentials; forcing their principal’s resignation before she had even started and exposing how little vetting, basic résumé verification their school bothered to do prior to announcing you’re hired. Headlines referenced here, linked in video/print below just the tip of a much larger iceberg on multiple fronts representing a fraction of the issues plaguing our education system as a whole well preceding buildings literally falling apart, gangs, guns, rape, bullies, school shootings, family problems, poverty, no money for school supplies. Meanwhile performance, content wise American education battles nothing new; battles that really began in the Reagan 80’s when our test scores ‘weren’t competitive’ with other nations sparking nearly 40 years of reforms from no child left behind to common core, an explosion of charter schools underperforming their public counterparts many times and several groups from experts to lawmakers, educators themselves scrambling to implement practices that would better America’s education systems and outcomes to decidedly mixed results. Common core regularly the laughing stock both nationally and internationally producing frustrating yet hilarious stories from parents trying to help their children with homework to exposing serious flaws in the ‘make teachers teach it this way’ strictures leading to teachers marking things wrong based on representations of simple multiplication not the right answer achieved and a clear understanding of 5X3=15 or 6X4=24. Independent it’s defenders saying in light of the multiple millions of Americans who profess they can’t do math, lagging national scores on tests and the math savvy citizens we’ll need in our budding math based future common core serves only to frustrate and confuse students, not singularly their parents, perpetuating hatred and avoidance for it not proficiency. Millennials now pegged as the least skilled generation according to research failing every measurable metric; schools churning out greater volume of students who get A’s but SAT scores are diminishing not improving, doubtlessly thought to be the product of everyone gets a trophy, participation grades, students who figured out how to game the system to get well above a 4.0 grade point average on what’s designed to be a 4.0 scale. SAT’s themselves receiving pushback for a perceived dumbing down of testing removing words like occlude only ever seen on such tests, rarely used in daily life today; this blog having tackled counter arguments to all of the above. Bottom line, of course we don’t want to hire any of those exampled teachers, anything remotely resembling them; pay and resource increases requested exactly so areas can stop scraping the bottom of the barrel, garner the best not just the bare minimum and merely available teachers. Except instead of the worst of teachers, worst of educators, administrators garnering national attention for all the wrong reasons these are the teachers, educators, school administrators and schools themselves across the country doing things, crafting policies to aid students in the modern era, facing the ever extreme challenges hampering students today. Teachers who are digging into their own pockets to give poorer students without school supplies the materials they need to be successful in the classroom, one teacher resorting to panhandling to find funds to give students supplies, digging into their own pockets for enhancements to their overall classroom in art projects, creative lesson supplies their individual school/district can’t afford; teachers like parkland’s Chris Hickson who before being slain in the massacre that killed 17 regularly gave students rides and lunch money if needed. Teachers making headlines for decidedly good reasons, teachers according to all available information who operate similar to the gym teacher who sent out a Facebook plea to get shoes for her entire class post being told upon seeing students wearing boots, sandals, crocks to gym they had no other footwear than the worn, falling apart, ill fitting, not suitable for exercise/physical activity ones they were wearing; another who started a GoFundMe account to do the same in her school, larger community after having to duct tape a student’s shoes and discovering he had no others that fit. A South Carolina teacher in a low income area who made it her mission to be sure each child in her class had a bike upon discovering many had never ridden never mind owned one. Math teacher endeavoring to increase his class’ state exam score by offering to shoot them a real music video if the class received a passing grade; they came though and so did he. One grade school teacher connects with each of his students though an individualized handshake for each pupil to start the day positively and take attendance. A Louisiana band instructor who changed his image of himself to help his students avoid the pull of the streets; who dressed like the swag wearing drug dealers on the corner even on a teachers slavery nice shirts, expensive jeans, top dollar sneakers (just fewer of them) when getting a new used car outfitting it with rims to the point where his students thought he must sell drugs. Showing them no, he got an education and a solid job; also demonstrating he could drive by the police station as an upstanding citizen with no criminal history, no known habit in his community of staring trouble, engaging in criminal activity, absent being harassed by police, something they had never seen before. Another band teacher who found a way to keep a student with spinal muscular atrophy participating in band long after his deteriorating body could no longer hold/manipulate drumsticks thanks to tablet technology and music apps. Teachers who went above and beyond any professional call to literally give a student, their parent the gift of life via organ donation when the discovered a child, their parent was sick and in need of a transplant of say a kidney and not of students they’ve particularly taught merely knowing one was in need. These aren’t the teachers caught on video doing bad, on video at all save for petitioning the public for help with items their students need, demanding of their lawmakers funds for the resources needed to give their students the best after putting in their 110%; how dare we denigrate them.
Seemingly lost in the echo chamber shouting about why teachers don’t deserve a pay increase, why they are wrong, greedy and self-serving to ask for one is what they are truly asking for; a select few, counted on all of 2 fingers, have stopped at hardline negotiating raises for themselves, school support staff, West Virginia being one but their biggest concerns involved state insurance premium hikes, benefit cuts and being unable to live on their wages, concern about legislative bills making it easier to divert paychecks to union dues and ignoring seniority when deciding layoffs and transfers, while their border counties ‘bleed teachers’ putting more pressure on ones that do stay. Less focus on classroom dollars; theirs drawn out by legislators who initially crafted a deal then pulled a bait and switch oscillating between the 5% pay increase demanded and 4% they said they could eke out of other budget cuts. All others petitioning also for resources directed at enriching students’ learning; even Oklahoma, whose focus was more classroom dollars than teacher pay halted their strikes and went back to work after gaining some of what they were asking for weighing the benefit of students alongside how best to receive their unmet demands. Agreeing to continue to tackle issues from a different approach, by majority vote of their largest teachers union, who supported the strike, it must be added; strike eventually forcing a tax hike for a $6,000 pay bump. Why are they still frustrated and complaining, it didn’t include vital funding for school improvements and supplies i.e. classroom chairs sending a teacher into DIY mode using buckets from Lowe’s and cushions from who knows where to give students basic seating. At least when my creative writing teacher dumpster dived for couches to outfit her classroom with a non-traditional, relaxed reading environment she did it because she wanted something out of the norm, to her it was a free, effective way to get what she wanted minus reams of paperwork, arguments with bosses, justification for her choices and it only required a little elbow grease she was willing to supply. Educators across striking teacher states, including Oklahoma, showing media pictures of falling apart textbooks, talking about having 25 anatomy texts for 70 students, state/district going so far as to amend standards downward so that those 25 texts were enough for the first time in a long time; teachers who haven’t seen a raise in a decade. A Colorado teacher who talked about not only no pay increase for the nearly 20 years she taught there but textbooks utilized were about the same age; further alerting the visiting reporter to signs on the school’s drinking fountains telling students not to use them because of high lead levels. Elsewhere in the state more textbook shortages, a singular bathroom in a hallway serving several classrooms out of order for 2 weeks and counting, lack of custodial staff has prompted teachers to go around toting their own cleaning supplies, as if they weren’t already supplementing enough, doing enough to compensate for rudimentary things their schools don’t have; reporters noting too that Massachusetts with roughly the same population, same number of students spends about $7,000 more per their students, hints the teacher uprising. Social media posted snapshots from those states of appallingly low pay stubs, harrowing tales of furnishing their own classroom supplies, cozy furnishings, what one reporter referred to as ‘BYO books’ alongside far more troubling pictures of exposed wiring next to a wall mounted analog TV, water damaged ceiling tiles, mice/rat filled classrooms, improvised air conditioners (Next paragraph link 5 and no this wasn’t long embattled Detroit). Others seeking curriculum control over their classrooms, to decide what they teach and how they teach it based on the best methods working for the students sitting in front of them throughout a given year; not common core, no child left behind, what older citizens commonly refer to as ‘space race math,’ textbook problems centered around the Kennedy to Reagan era of America’s space program rather than practical every day oriented math, identical older persons shouting about the drawbacks of ‘the new English,’ more recent trends decrying phonics and people who can’t spell because they need to learn how words are spelled from day one, whatever the newfangled teaching technique de jour, public opinion on teaching methods via a given year, given decade. Additionally, the ability to advocate for students in need of greater services, mental health spotlighted after parkland; Colorado lawmakers’ response, to introduce a bill that meant jailing striking educators, implementing legalities enabling them to seek court injunctions forcing teachers to work. Moves doubly ironic since legislators there ignored the will of the people in 2000 passing an amendment matching teacher pay to the rate of inflation costing teachers and students 6.6 billion in salary compensation, learning resource funds over the past 18 years; compounded atop the 822 million ABC news discovered the centennial state had underfunded schools yearly, what could you realistically do with either of those figures toward bettering education, perhaps just replacing the piping system to the school eliminating the lead in drinking fountain water if nothing else. Tying such monies to inflation a sane, logical, mathematical long term formula to keep emotion, politics, other negatives out of it while endeavoring to compensate teachers according to cost of living; Oklahoma students joining others telling reporters about the duct tape on their texts ‘everywhere’ because pages are falling out, reporters unearthing one Tulsa school rationing paper. North Carolina’s walk out day featuring a middle school student holding a sign stating her textbook was as old as she was, a teacher holding a sign showing the drastic disparity between what the state spends on each prison inmate $35,000 plus and per student in k-12 ed. just over $6,000 plus, no one needing the teacher’s math skills to say if we reversed that we’d need less prisons. A male teacher this time holding a sign apt for today in multiple ways considering the coddled nature we automatically assume dominates all young people reading: ‘I am 40 years old and my mom still buys me school supplies,’ when he is employed, holds a recognizable if not deemed respectable per say, job and can’t afford to dole out anymore of his merger income on school supplies for his classroom. North Carolina where one teacher described her experience starting at a brand new school, implication opened first time during the current academic year coming to a close, detailing to reporters it opened its doors from the get go overcrowded and understaffed; a 4th not mincing words talking readily about underfunding and what that translates to in her school/classroom, lack of, threats to basics like functioning AC/heating units, instituted pay freezes meaning no matter how hard teachers work, the hours they put in, there’s no extra money to be made allowing them to get ahead on basic personal expenses. Teachers al-a Arizona just one example, not without strategy or reasonability to their requests; demanding only that their education and funding, resource allocation go back to 2008 pre-recession levels now that there is no longer a recession and the state is in a different, better financial position also rejected initial offerings wanting a more permanent revenue stream for raises and funding to continue with inflation, cost of living in the future instead of a one-time boon. Were city, district, state officials to show striking teachers numbers the area had only recovered post-recession by X percentage from mentioned 2008 levels, they would likely accept that percentage increase in wages/education resources. Arizona likewise wants their state’s teacher salary, per student spending to simply coincide with the national average saying, quite rationally, no new tax cuts until it does sentiments echoed in nearly every striking state. That states ended the strikes that have concluded by increasing teacher wages and/or splitting hard won funds between salary changes and student resource dollars says they had the money and could have done so at any time but it took striking workers to get it done. Highlighting an important fact, teachers don’t necessarily want states to suddenly spend thousands to millions more/extra dollars on education, expect it to magically appear out of the sky, they want greater portions of city, state, county budgets set aside toward education, essentially making it the priority it hasn’t been for years. Teachers asking for respect not from the clichéd unruly, entitled students, their coddling helicopter, endless excuse parents but from their city officials, state legislators, to treat them like the professionals they are, the professionals they educated themselves to be: holding 2 degrees and 14 years experience in one case; (Next paragraph video 1) challenging their local, state officials to care, one Arizona resident who commutes to California telling news organizations she will never again teach there saying directly ‘no one cares in Arizona,’ meaning elected officials as opposed to teachers (paragraph 5 link 2). Seriously, we the collective public haven’t come to the conclusion maybe, just maybe some of the problem with our flagging test scores has to do with the age of the supposed tools we’re giving teachers to teach; using a globe so old it shows 2 Germanys indicating it was made prior to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. We don’t think that students forced to use the same textbook as country singer Blake Shelton used 36 years ago could be a partial reason younger millennials can’t get jobs, are constantly pegged as lacking job skills, called the least skilled generation; to be fair this blog and author put forth their thoughts and arguments toward debunking such an assessment naming the current generation age bracket ‘useless,’ whether it’s who’s taking the test considering it was completely voluntary, how seriously they took it, amount of effort applied since it was offered online and may have been viewed on par with a Facebook quiz or other inconsequential survey, questionnaire a dime a dozen littering cyberspace. To who was available to take it since by the interpretation of the results the smarter more capable specimens of the current generation were probably out working, job hunting, volunteering, antithesis of sitting in their parent’s basement wiling away the hours munching Funyuns alternating between videogames or their parent’s free Wi-Fi; not leaving off who didn’t take it because it was formatted exclusively to operate with X version of Firefox or above dwindling your sample pool further and further. But if you believe such metrics the way education and current generation critics are inclined to do, it might be a good idea to pay attention to the materials teachers are given to teach with, the conditions they are expected to teach in while teachers are talking about the dilapidated state of their buildings, classrooms; remembering that book wasn’t a family heirloom, wasn’t an old copy of a children’s classic reading book (by that we mean fiction), wasn’t used as a then and now comparison of how children in grade X used to learn, wasn’t brought in to change things up, because the class seems to do better with vintage basics, it was a textbook actively used because it’s all they had. However to hear critics, older citizens obsessed with ‘back in the day’ tell it the fault lies 100% with lazy, unmotivated, uncaring about their knowledge, intelligence, education young people proud of their ignorance millennials, gen Y gen Z, used to getting a trophy for everything including showing up, touchy feely social promotion, turn it in gets an A, the appallingly horrible teacher(s) you wouldn’t trust to teach someone the simplest task, forget cultivate the best and brightest among us. Not the materials they’re being asked to work with many times around because they are so far behind the times; do we hear ourselves, do we credibly not think a student is going to get less out of a textbook held together with duct or masking tape, not the least of which because it is a signal of just how out of date it is, but when it comes apart in their hand, pages, entire chapters are falling out? At the same time American citizenry comment showcasing exponentially why kids hate learning shunning innovative teaching aids, take a series of education videos crafted by the band OK Go aimed at teaching the science and math put into their elaborate, eye-popping music videos stating: “banging on pots and pans now qualifies as science education! We are so screwed;” missing the objective entirely, it was a fun activity meant to solidify scientific concepts in students heads, mathematical calculations put into how much water to put into X glass to achieve Y pitch, how you go about that, another asking students to identify all the simple levers or machines in a particular video. Most importantly to the current conversation, representing a free resource for both teachers and students, the banging on everyday objects exercise easily put together in economically challenging times for either group because it uses things found at home, students probably asked to bring one object to contribute to the activity. Band simply responding to teacher comments they used their videos in their classrooms to demonstrate practical applications of the math and science topics they were teaching, setting out to create something teachers could better use toward that goal, shame on them; never mind it was also for grade schoolers, but the commenter is right we are screwed if people like them are crafting policy, overseeing curriculum dictates. Looking at the state of schools physically, materials teachers are left to use, how many AP classes, AP qualified teaching staff do we think they have, next to zero the likely answer; how many cutting edge, innovative electives starting in middle school are available to students to spur their interest in 21st century jobs, have computers you can take apart and put back together in an IT course, a model jet engine so you can learn to work on planes, learn jobs available in aeronautics unless you go to the Jamie Dimon’s aviation high school, just one area illustrating the problem, independent the time students don’t have to explore electives, potential job possibilities, careers, hone job skills for the love of fulfilling enhanced general education requirements. Standout question, why are you using textbooks over tablets anyway when tablets better engage students, allow for a technique known as flipping the classroom whereby students are given lectures to view on YouTube, similar site via tablet coming to school the next day to complete arguably the hardest part what would have been homework, side by side with the teacher, instructors able to see where the class is as a whole, refine concepts clearly not grasped by the class and identify gaps of struggling students; strategies that have increased graduation and college acceptance rates, plummeted dropout rates and contributed to the success of alternative, last chance schools freeing up teachers for more one on one, small group instruction time critical to at risk students’ success. And you can’t tell us tech companies wouldn’t offer bulk rates and educational discounts to put tablets in schools Apple, Microsoft, Android with Apple CEO Tim Cook thinking everyone should learn to code, asserting we’re placing too much onus on teachers to supply everything pertaining to learning instead of a passion to seek it out themselves with students, ourselves as adults, taking advantage of innovations and tools to take undue pressure off educators. Tablets interactive capabilities perhaps the true answer to projected STEM deficits we face, will face in the future versus more graduation requirements in science and higher math, making complex and complicated science concepts easier to learn, applicable to things that permeate student’s lives, things that spark and hold their interest; already accelerating student confidence in science, math intensive fields, medical fields who always need workers/qualified practitioners getting one young man in the flipping classrooms story closer to his goal of being an optometrist (eye doctor). Piling on the selling points, taking unneeded strain off young, growing shoulders, backs and spines avoiding carting around heavy backpacks, for the financial watchdogs, textbook makers update their digital versions much faster than their actual printed physical counterparts, offer more learning amenities; the only reason then not to be utilizing tablets middle school to 12th grade is inability to fund them on the front end. Wonder of wonders my middle of the country, red state managed to pull off tablets for students when my best friend’s oldest was in kindergarten 8 years ago and her youngest sister slated to graduate soon was using them before that in middle school. Would it change your opinion to know that most of these strikes began in red, republican states and all the stereotypes they embody, where the most uneducated and ill-educated, under educated come from, producing the lowest test scores, highest dropout rates, lower college attendance, degree achievement? Red, republican states where newly elected and repeatedly elected republican officials have wrecked previously well performing, functional schools; look at Sam Brownback in Kansas, Matt Bevin in Kentucky, usually to cut taxes to bare bones years’ record lows that money flowing to the rich. Bevin who then tried to blame imaginary child rapes on striking teachers due to children suddenly left home alone; himself left profusely apologizing and utterly missing the point. Flint Michigan’s water crisis started by a business man turned mayor elected by the people locally in the same spirit they elected Donald Trump nationally who switched to the much dirtier water source to save a few bucks, left out lead neutralizing chemicals to save a few more bucks and voilà water crisis; a water crisis the governor announced there will be no more free bottled water distribution for though the water remains dangerous and efforts to replace all lead piping are slow, remain incomplete. Michigan the identical state where, it’s city Detroit’s, students sued education officials and the governor in 2016 claiming a fundamental right to literacy denied them through bad teachers and bad policies while the school petitioned the court to drop the lawsuit asserting they had no such ‘right;’ most would disagree based on how they defined it, competent teachers to facilitate grade level reading proficiency, and changes they desired to access the same opportunities as everyone else. Detroit where all of its principals earlier that year were charged in a bribery scheme where they lined their pockets with dollars meant to buy school supplies and other needs while students combat moldy, leaking rodent infested buildings forced to wear their coats for a lack of heat potentially making students and staff sick. Republican, red states who refused Medicaid expansions in their state then whose representatives went back to Washington hands out for more money and begging legislators to save their state Medicaid; Arizona who initially rejected traditional Medicaid when it began in 1972, hospitals their limping along for 10 years providing care to the abjectly destitute before succumbing to economic pressures taking what was offered the decade previous. States where this has literally become a habit, Indiana’s then governor Mike Pence who rejected millions in pre-school funding solely because it came from the federal government; education just the latest arena where republicans see fit to dig their heels in, who keep railing against abortion and trying to defund Planned Parenthood through backdoor means because they refuse to acknowledge the Hyde amendment they’ve attached to dozens of pieces of passed legislation already ensures no federal monies are actually spent on abortion. Unfortunately the Trump administration’s latest moves would bar doctors from discussing abortion with patients and serve to shut down Planned Parenthood facilities providing well woman care, birth control and family planning not abortion. States who have legalized recreational marijuana find themselves literally millions in the black versus in the red, the trend post 2008, close to a decade beyond the official close of the recession, Colorado able to create a college scholarship from the funds, so why can’t they pay their k-12 teachers? Then there’s everyone else sticking to their moral/religious objections and war on drugs era bad/severely outdated notions on deemed illegal drugs despite scientific and medical research finding new uses for banned substances toward curbing suicide in extremely depressed patients, melding them with traditional psychotherapy treatments in treating PTSD; except education by no means should carry equivalent levels of controversy on the subject of paying teachers, like we should be paying everyone else, a living wage, on giving our children, our future the latest and greatest tools to learn, acquire skills. Would it likewise change your opinion to know most strikes started at the grass roots not union level and union involvement benefitted all teachers nationally not just in their state, not just their particular members? Not to be ignored is all the student and parent support backing strikes, students who know they currently aren’t getting the best education they could be, the education they need going forward to be productive; parents and educators who understand now is the time to fight for the future function of public education, parents specifically worried about the kind of persons their kids will grow up to be, jobs they’ll be able to obtain with the educations they’re getting. Both groups garnering community allies once they see conditions teachers are coping with, materials they try to use, lawmaker response; the larger national public screaming about strikes assigning self-aggrandizing purposes to what’s happening who doesn’t seem to possess any idea what educators, support staff are paid, who seem completely unaware of the plight of students other than their flagging test scores and ‘general stupidity’ subject of endless social media threads, viral discussions. Challenge then to local lawmakers to walk though these schools, see the texts used, the lagging or utterly lacking technology, the dilapidated buildings where children are meant to learn, local citizens also tour your schools, pay attention, know this is what those bond issues you don’t want to pay for would prevent, if nothing else so some young hoodlum doesn’t beat you over the head and rob you blind actions all stemming from a bad education; because the Oklahoma teacher’s union spokesperson is correct, the funding crisis started electing the wrong people, a problem only fixed at the ballot box.
Regardless what your feelings on teacher tenure, teacher pay, overall teacher performance nationally, we should all be able to agree no employed teacher not under some sort of suspension or review should be forced to visit the local food bank to supplement theirs and their family’s groceries, embarrassed and ashamed upon being seen by their students too innocent to know she needed the help of the food bank as opposed to volunteering. No fully employed individual working, being monetarily compensated for 40 hours of work per week and not getting out from under a bankruptcy, mammoth credit card debt, serious financial irresponsibility should be swallowing their pride, easily substituted their dignity, going to a church soup kitchen in order to eat, regularly put food in their mouth. Absolutely no one full time employed in a job, let alone something considered a career, employment that takes training beyond high school should be selling blood to get by when states like Oklahoma passed the first tax hikes in 28 years to give teachers what little they managed to pull from their lawmakers. This blog and author talked about the surprise benefits found in a 4 day school week via less absenteeism in both students and staff, increased test scores, better focus back when gas prices forced changes, positives plainly felt by parents as well having that extra day to spend with their child/children and it’s being used as a recruitment tool for hiring new educators; it is also one thing to hear teachers express how the extra downtime makes them a better teacher, when in the classroom more mindful of time management and sharper focused on the tasks at hand, how to maximize learning in the time allotted. But, school districts shouldn’t be forced to switch to a 4 day school week so teachers can get a job at the local Wal-Mart to make ends meet, take jobs as servers to pay their bills talking about how tight their personal budgets would be if they were depending solely on their teacher’s salary; shorter school weeks shouldn’t be a selling point to new educational hires based on budget penny pinching because you can’t keep the doors open a full traditional 5 days. We shouldn’t be hearing teachers telling inquisitive reporters they make more mowing lawns, their daughter makes more as a nanny with as much or less the education, now that appears to be luck employed by an affluent, nice family paying on the higher end, providing for her needs, but the lesson still stands; what you might have missed about the former’s story is he does his lawn mowing as a side business therefore having a side by side comparison balance sheets/pay stubs to back up his assertion, his wife adding to the descriptions of school cost saving measurers talking about a time when they only replaced every other light bulb in her building. Who is getting the money in Oklahoma, oil giants and fracking companies enjoying sweetheart subsidies known to cause earthquakes, pollute ground water and run experienced teachers out of the state. At least one striking teacher holding not a single but double the degrees; others calling out the pittance they received as a pay raise for needed professional development classes, a hardly a drop in the bucket $130 over the year. Reminds us of the $1.50 one worker got thanks to the, adding billions to the national debt republican tax cuts, shaming house speaker Paul Ryan, ironically she was a high school secretary somewhat proving striking teachers point about support staff not just themselves; reminding me personally of the writing teacher I had in high school who quit supervising after school detention when she discovered her 35 cents to $1.35 compensation for doing so. No teacher, single mom of 2 kids or not, should be talking about the $983 she takes home every 2 weeks, wondering some weeks how she’s going to feed her kids, tearing up and turning away from cameras as she says it (vid after paragraph 5). Teachers, the persons responsible for educating our next generation, fostering learning, creativity and innovation in young minds who shouldn’t have to work 3, 4 and 5 jobs just to pay their bills each month, as if teaching— branching out into after school tutoring, test prep and help for struggling students, planning sessions, staff meetings, grading papers, lesson plans all encompassing facets of the same job description — leaves a ton of spare time in the first place. Fully employed teachers shouldn’t qualify for food stamps while working 2 jobs, not because the assistance is, as long shouted by right wing conservative politicians so extravagant, instead due to the combined low wages of the jobs available versus the cost of living, medical premiums. Would it help you understand to know these states striking now house lowest paid educators, education aides in our entire country; Oklahoma 50th out of 50 states in teacher pay rankings, Arizona 49th and that includes the pay gains they wrestled from their state’s coffers, West Virginia 48th; North Carolina significantly higher at 39th newspapers reporting trending upward from 47th in 2013, but keep in mind said numbers are teacher pay not funding per student, dollar amounts for building repairs, classroom supplies probably explaining the ‘39 is not fine’ chants and signs held during their walkout day. There is an open dispute about Colorado whether it’s 46th, 31st or 30th depending on if you are looking at 2015-16, 16-17 or 17-18 apparently, teacher pay exclusively or more whole picture numbers showing average income and cost of living comparisons held up to national averages; yet, their motivations were, for review, lawmaker, legislator respect for the professionalism/expertise they provide, control over their own classrooms, advocating power for students who need specialized services and extra help, not merely dollars and cents, dollars and cents attached to them. Kentucky producing similar confusion owing to the USA Today metrics including median salaries for all workers, cost of living information as well as graduation rates ranked number 30. Yes ranking items 1 to however many you have means there will be a first and last, but glaring when you view these numbers shouldn’t there be some tied figures, schools/states on equal footing and them all be in the top 20 to serve the educational needs of our nation; look again at the anatomy of the West Virginia teacher’s strike, protesting their 2% raise for the first time in years and an additional $30 per month toward their skyrocketing health insurance premiums 1% the following year. Speaking of rising healthcare costs, building on the demands in the previous paragraph addressing just that issue, no teacher should have to contemplate filing for bankruptcy because their state employer refuses to allot them the increase necessary to pay said insurance costs, or in typical red state fashion, do the things to mitigate costs for their citizens, not the least of which are the state employees. Arizona teachers shouldn’t be informing reporters they can’t even afford to have their children, flesh and blood, adopted, legal guardian what have you, children on their health insurance for the love of cost, an Oklahoma 12th grade government teacher, father of 3 who cannot put his wife on his insurance; and no, not for the fact they shouldn’t be talking about it rather because it shouldn’t be happening. (vid first link 2 paragraphs down) Teachers shouldn’t be able to factually say they made more in their previous job, retail, minimum second jobs shouldn’t qualify as ‘the standard;’ rehashing the idea, if you need more money work more, work harder, get more jobs, develop a ‘side hustle’ for cash. Countering African American commentator D. Watkins opining on election results and asking why the “hard-working white” class is even a voting bloc, because: “I come from the blackest community in one of the blackest cities, and I don’t know how not to have 10 jobs. Everybody I know has 10 jobs, even the infants. Black people, Asians and Mexicans alike work their asses off;” logical follow up question, do you want the teacher teaching your children to have 10 jobs, minimum the 2, 3, 4 and 5 talked about here, or, do you want them focused on their most important job, imparting knowledge, a love of learning, seeking knowledge to the next generation — see thought it was the latter. Providing context, that comment is from a piece written just after the 2016 election telling white people they had just played themselves, shot themselves in the foot as it were, voting en mass the way they did, confused about what they were thinking, calling them out for getting it drastically wrong and he was right; but, I too am a black person, perhaps live in a little more diverse community, and I don’t want my best friend’s kids’ teachers working 2 jobs, forget 10, exaggeration or not, I don’t want anyone’s child’s teacher working any number along that given line 2 to 10 knowing it represents jobs held concurrently. Because, I want them focused, able to give that 100, 110% to her kids, society’s kids, able to take that downtime in their off hours and recharge their batteries, raise their own children well for the victim of violent crime, robbery, rape, home invasion I don’t want to be thanks to a parent who couldn’t be there enough because they had to work such extended hours to live. Pivoting momentarily to the performance question when it comes to gaging teacher proficiency, debates and anger about paying teachers more based on what they are producing, or rather not producing, the excellence blatantly not present, do we not think having those second through fifth jobs, regularly being up until 2 am as a Uber driver doesn’t impede their performance in the classroom? And that was on top of being a pitching coach for $25 per session; how much sleep do you think he’s getting, estimated 4 hours between 2 and 6am, up, showered and out the door to be in class by 7:45, not including staying late or coming in early? How much lost job performance, teacher productivity and thus student productivity, educator general crankiness in a classroom of kids who will feed off that negatively creating classroom chaos there’s already too much of, do we think that translates to; how many mediocre lesson plans combined with the ancient, absent resources do we guess he churns out because he can barely keep his eyes open, but it’s all the teachers’ fault. Can you imagine Mr. Watkins, anyone reading, splitting cognitive energy between in class hours, paper grading, lesson planning, faculty meetings plus the ‘teaching dance 2 nights a week, cleaning the local theater 3 nights a week,’ another teacher has to go through to balance her budget monthly (vid above)? Just managing the schedule of when you’re supposed to be where; another teacher does a combo of teaching by day, private tutoring, turning her car into a Lyft, spending her weekends caregiving for emotionally disabled kids, a 3rd catering weddings and driving an Uber while hiding it from her elementary school kids she works 3 jobs, mortified when caught by one of her 4th grader’s waiting tables, too naive to say anything other than marveling at how hard she works and that she works at a lot of places, sadly thinking she must be rich based on how much she works. How long does anyone think these breakneck, grueling schedules are sustainable, won’t lead to burn out lessening teaching quality even further, won’t spell health impacts followed by sick days, necessitating substitutes, disrupting learning once again, jeopardizing all the jobs these people hold and the precarious financial tightrope they’re walking; then who is left to teach our children? Beyond the consequences to society treating teachers so poorly who aren’t the bad ones, who contrastingly have done everything they can to mitigate the dysfunction they are surrounded by, it’s patently unfair to professionals holding degrees, educated and proving they absorbed the educations they received; here are examples of people who’ve done exactly what we’ve told people for decades to do, if you can’t make it on 1 income, 1 job get another, who have taken hobbies, extemporaneous skills and turned them into cash, yes most of them white but not all, and they aren’t getting ahead, most are just keeping their head above water. That one teacher a single parent, but most teachers with 1, 2 children of their own married to fellow teachers, spouses with other jobs creating the ideal 2 parent/2 income homes religious conservative politicians, republicans think will solve so many ills yet never seems to really; and, still both parents must take at least second, side jobs to make it month to month, even the teaching father with 5 kids has been a teacher for 19 years, 19 years ago things were better. Pre-k to 12 public school teachers, when you crunch the numbers, who make less now, adjusting for inflation than, they did in 1989; which adds up with the story of one Oklahoma educator whose mother was also a teacher who made more than she does now, elaborating she made more in college, to be doubted it was writing fellow student’s papers. Said teacher also married to a teacher, couple postponing staring a family because they have a hard enough time ‘keeping kibble in the bowl for their dog’ at a time when stats have researchers panicking over the lowest birthrates nationwide for 30 years and its impact on social security, our future workforce. Top reason why, the economy facts straight from new mother’s mouths who say they had their first children much later than they originally planned, averaging a whole decade later than they envisioned citing cost of hospital bills related to a child, child care while they work, total cost of raising a single child birth to 18 estimated at $233,610, before any sort of college fund; serendipity both moms spoke to where teachers. Wages for teachers going down while all other degree required professions have been on a steady income uptick over the past decade; hints Mr. Watkins why the “hard working class,” whatever your race, should be a voting bloc and a focal point. Teachers with families shouldn’t be balancing the needs of their biological children and the needs of the children in the classrooms sometimes taking from their own children to garner things for the children they teach; we should all hang our head in shame when these issues make it worldwide and others see more value in education than our leaders not parents, students, educators, but those supposedly directing the country, Ms. BYO books proudly showing off a gift card from a 6th grade student in the London brought to tears by their kindness, when even children understand the idiocy of forcing teachers to buy everything themselves. Solving teacher pay issues on a different front, how about we stop using bad software programs to calculate time sheets that inadvertently cheat workers out of earned dollars for shortened lunch breaks spent doing work, interrupted and shortened breaks for the same reason, staying late to aide clients in any helping profession, make it easier for employers to commit wage theft snatching away money you rightfully earned by continuing to use ‘tools’ they are perfectly aware do this, precisely why they keep using them, example used in a Salon article centered around nurses; representing the latest in a long line of technology based ‘helpers’ helping governments cheat citizens out of social services they qualify for, delayed workers compensation and other compensations who have hurt those they were purportedly designed to help. When algorithms decide who of the homeless gets housing, flags simple errors on food assistance and healthcare applications as ‘failure to cooperate’ used by one north eastern city’s child services despite known inaccuracies; sounds an awful lot like one city whose computer program mistakenly flagged thousands of disability claims as fraud, another whose computer software printed out active warrants for persons who had already adjudicated their traffic fines, expired licenses, presented themselves to their court appearances; actions the computer program couldn’t/didn’t process. How about we update work rules allowing rounding from the days when payroll calculations were done by hand robbing workers throughout America of roughly $ 1,382 annually calculated assuming you’re working the federal minimum wage, nothing above, software calculating in automatic break deductions whether you actually took the break, whether you we able to take allotted breaks based on the type of work you do, automatically lopping off minutes you show up early, stay late for simplicity while at the same time states, cities here and across the globe are crafting laws and policy answering the question do/does answering work e-mails, conducting work conversations after hours constitute work worthy of overtime. Teachers shouldn’t be coerced into living in cement block like dormitories reminiscent of factory boarding houses in China to solve the low pay problem so severe teachers can’t afford a place to live, surprise, surprise in another, you guessed it, red state; sidestepping entirely Cenk Uygur’s detailing of internal school politics, administrators, teachers living in the same building eroding privacy and the reality teachers when off the clock are private citizens and if not breaking the law have every right to their private life sans jeopardizing their job because of someone else’s definition of morality attached to otherwise benign things, you also factor in this is Miami a high cost of living area where it seems we’ve given landlords and other factors free reign culminating in exactly what we see, people who can’t afford shelter even while working full time jobs. Don’t be fooled, financial woes aren’t limited to K-12 educators dependent on state budgets, virtually at the mercy of lawmakers; college professors shouldn’t be living in their cars, grading papers by headlamp, utilizing dry shampoo in their school’s bathroom because they live in a high cost of living state and are only an adjunct professor, not a tenured, even full time one. At least one of them yet one more case of doing what we always tell people to do, reinvent themselves, going from tech bubble to English professor who doesn’t want for a job, who didn’t get a useless degree but is hampered by exorbitant costs of living; here too is where education administrators should ban together with their staff, fellow members of these communities suddenly displaced when giant companies move in, median incomes go up and landlords who view it as they can charge whatever they want are unfettered by law. In another feature piece delving into what Silicon Valley’s tech industry had done to the surrounding area land lord raising one family’s rent 3 times in the year before they moved out and into an RV with 3 kids; ponder how that almost $1400 a year in lost wages could change any of the profiled teacher’s lives, allowing them to mull over quitting a job, mean in Miami they can forgo the impending faculty dormitory, avoid homelessness or claw themselves back up from living in their vehicles faster. A software engineer choosing to live out of a moving truck and provided showers, opportunities for meals at work, paying off student loan debt then maxing out contributions to his retirement plan talked about the landlord problem bluntly; giant read flag for onlookers, it’s never like landlords take the bloated rents they charge and upgrade buildings, add luxury features, too many don’t bother themselves with standard upkeep, good maintenance, argument for income based housing, at least income based rents, rent controlled housing like what they’ve done in New York City for decades expanded nationally, if there ever was one. PBS’ 2016 exposé probably not classified as the most recent of its kind alerting us to the tactics of property owners with tenants; forced to display Christmas lights, forced to remove Christmas lights, grappling with lease riders tenants can scarcely believe are legal or are so desperate for a place to live in a safe area, adjacent to work, in a good school district they swallow the borderline insanity. Those about requiring renters insurance, no Airbnb-ing and fines for overstaying your lease may be annoying but make a modicum of sense; stipulations about no pornography, specifying carpeting schemes, specific brands of ticky tac, not so much. Obviously ones saying no yodeling, not changing the sign on the fitness center to read ‘fatness center,’ making rent checks out to you greedy mother [expletive], yell order up and throw hotdogs at people while they walk past your window among other colorful, to put it mildly, rules were based on real things the landlord had had to handle from one or more tenants, college frat variety top of the list, it even states as much at the top of the notice. Less so the woman roasted on social media due to the stipulations she insisted on placing on a room she’d advertised for rent: laundry only on weekends, no alcohol, no kitchen privileges (except again on weekends) and no loud noise past 9 pm, leaving the burning question, why are you renting the room; continuation of darker trends we’ve seen of discrimination, the congressman who thinks it should be legally acceptable to discriminate against LGBT persons, couples, Christian motivated property owners pushing back against unmarried couples, people they assume are either, even if they merely plan to be roommates splitting expenses to defer cost. Oddly young families find themselves bearing the brunt of discrimination, the moment they find out you have a child or children you stop getting callbacks if you’re using a realtor as the featured Boston mom was, things get awkward quickly; breaking the law by the way since it’s illegal not to rent to someone with a child/children, charge them different prices for rent, deposits and other fees, bar them from seeing the available apartment of their choosing. Apparently it was old buildings and the high cost of de-leading property space; we already knew how hard it usually is to find landlords willing to accept pets, a single cat or dog nothing exotic, already it’s a lottery of sorts getting the landlord to choose you (rather mirroring jobs and choosing the best candidates for work) instead of based on basics holding a job, having an income, demonstrating you have in the past or will present into the future pay your bills. There are now things called rental résumés set up similar to employment ones complete with objective, background rental history and tips to treat it like a job show up early, dress to impress, be engaging by asking questions. Except this isn’t a job it’s a place to live, and while those things may be acceptable for high end gated communities, debatable whether they should be even then, the only thing that should matter is do I have vacancies, do you have first/last month’s rent, deposit and a means to pay the rent on time, agree to lease terms; check on those 5 things, you get the apartment. Home owners associations just as guilty putting up a fight over a girl’s purple swing set, outdoor play gym because it was ‘incongruous with the neighborhood’ (color scheme) to the point of taking the family to court; court siding with, surprise, surprise the family. Another fined because their children were playing on driveways and sidewalks, no thought to where they were supposed to play, ride bikes or, oh the horror, skateboard, where the designated place for them to do so was; fitting a pattern there wasn’t one. One more sent a letter about kids being too noisy while playing outside during daylight hours in an area specifically built for families, those with children not 55 plus retirees, but we wonder why no one has a place to live; teachers’ low salaries exposing a host of other problems.
Financial realities hitting home at a time when parents are increasingly asked to supplement their child’s classroom school supplies not just their individual school supplies, gaping at the numbers of glue sticks, Kleenexes and boxes of markers, crayons, confused about paper towels and wet wipes printed on back to school lists at a time too when they can least do so; still paying off their own student loan debt from the career that’s slowly getting off the ground or never did just happy to have a job that pays all their bills, if it does. My friend forced to repeatedly humiliate herself at the start of every school year telling a new round of teachers she will furnish her child’s school supplies and not all the named number of pencils and glue at once rather as needed, not classroom items, for the younger set or just entering, still in smaller grades she will provide her child’s snacks, not the entire class;’ less due to her second son’s food allergies and more because they are poor, eat on food stamps, her kids qualifying for free breakfast and lunch at school, her school age children bringing home buddy packs, (a program providing non-perishable food items to needy school children for weekends where there may not be food at home). There is in her house but she’s one of the lucky ones and considers herself so; financial realities she shouldn’t have to disclose, putting people into her family’s business when the overwhelming majority of students at her youngest children’s elementary school are known to be living in the public housing area walking distance away, populated by low-income persons and families. Facts she shouldn’t have to divulge when at her son’s last behavioral center doctor’s appointment for his ADHD his doctor changed his meds concerned about his weight and the quaintly of stimulants he’s on (unnecessarily really) who had to finagle the paperwork about the amount of food in their house to get children’s state Medicaid to pay for the PediaSure she wants him drinking daily. Facts that should draw our attention to the goings on in West Virginia where over 2/3 of students qualify for either free or reduced breakfast and lunch via their school, community centers stepping up to mitigate hardships for what the school would normally be providing at least until summer; teachers not forgetting these circumstances, when not on the picket line are passing out lunches to students left in a lurch, one parent grateful community offerings will help her feed her 6 school age children. There are 5 kids in my friend’s home precisely because we live in a red state with laws dictating to doctors when a woman can have her tubes tied beyond the stipulations is she at least 18, maybe 21, cognitively capable of understanding, coming to a decision and is she medically a candidate for the procedure; even once she was ‘old enough’ by the guidelines the hospital post her 3rd child’s birth said they would set it up and never did, post her 4th her primary care doctor suggested a more dangerous form of birth control after the hospital asked her if she had signed a form, she walked out when the primary care doctor wouldn’t give her a tube tying referral/consult set up, after her 5th was born despite his 2 week stint in the NICU born at roughly 7 months, they stated they needed 30 days’ notice, forget she came through the ER with abdominal pain unsure what was wrong. Scenarios paralleling West Virginia another red state with similar restrictions, doubtlessly impacted, like ours, by access strictures slapped on Planned Parenthood resulting in more unplanned pregnancies, more unwanted kids and more kids parents can’t take care of; while we stare slack-jawed at parents of 5 and 6 children asking incredulously, if only in our own heads, have they ever heard of, never mind used birth control, thought of practicing abstinence? Independent featured woman may have taken in her sister’s kids, a best friend’s kids after death from illness, accident, abuse whichever, or don’t we remember the heart wrenching tales from Extreme Makeover Home Edition? A little more on how my friend makes things in her household work smoothly, yearly she gets her children’s school supplies through the local, annual back to school fair she shows up as near to the crack of dawn as possible to be relatively first in line and assured of getting what she needs for her 3 old enough to attend and has still had to dip into her own shallow pockets to supplement school supplies, ask her sister or at times I’ve volunteered to purchase small items the fair didn’t have. Her, like most parents, period but especially those necessitated to be frugal, each year going through the salvageable, reusable things from last year, items circa crayons, markers, pencils, almost used up glue sticks relegated to home use for completion of homework; usually trying to have ready in the wings a spare backpack per child, those too used for school left for play. She too utilizes community programs like Shoes That Fit to keep her large family in footwear, 2 functional pairs at a time, Operation School Bell providing clothing for potentially needy kids to keep laundry on their ever growing bodies, permitting 2 winter coats per child in her household; resources for her 2 toddlers come from the local chapter of Lend and Learn, including allotments of diapers, WIC (women infants and children) helps supplement food, adds fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy juices, bread, milk, provided formula for all her children during their first year. Having gotten wise to children who struggle to eat over the summer months without the school breakfast and lunch school usually provides, the hardship it suddenly creates for parents our city used a popular park next to the public housing area to provide free lunches to any child under 18; my friend always in line because it eases their food stamp budget as well as eliminating energy expended on hot supper days, whole family heat sensitive. Going a step further each eligible child is enrolled in summer school not only providing academic reinforcement, an extra month of partial childcare but free breakfasts and lunch. A local parenting class, where you earn tokens attending sessions used to buy things in their store, and Lend and Learn, how she routinely replaces worn out strollers she’s uses to haul groceries absent a vehicle, primary mode of transportation her feet; how she got her surprise youngest 2 children’s cribs going for $300 retail, the simplest stroller $130.00, she often needing a double to accommodate food, household items and the infant or child too young to walk. Years ago I offered her the use of my washing machine when she was struggling to clean her children’s clothes in their bathtub and I knew due to lack of dryer hook-ups I was using it less and on a more rigid schedule; because, no one in 21st century America should be washing clothes in a bathtub certainly not someone with small children. She lives within walking distance of our city’s local library neither her nor her husband, any of her children are hampered by disabilities preventing that walk so her children have access to a trove of books, they love reading so books are a part of the Christmas/birthday bags I buy them, always make it onto the VAC or Salvation Army Christmas list (how the family has any substantial Christmas at all), birthdays garnered from thrift store finds, the $2 and $5 bins at Wal-Mart, clearance rack finds, Dollar Tree, going out of business sales like Toys R Us, buying from library discard pile book sales or their school’s discard sales; meaning her kids probably won’t suffer, suffer as greatly the 30 million word gap, despite their ranking on the poverty line, their mother’s learning disability, a father who just turned 50 and never had to take algebra in school. Others aren’t so lucky living in virtual book deserts known as low income, urban communities where parents may have just enough gas to go to work, the store, perhaps the doctor but not the library, especially to track back in 3 weeks to return checked out items. Parents who may work odd hours not able to take their child, because they work or are sleeping to work nights; demand for nighttime daycare growing exponentially for parents who are nurses, nurse aides, work multiple jobs, the previous paragraph with less resources, one woman working 2 retail positions because neither employer would give her above 29 hours of work to avoid giving her benefits due full time workers thus incapable of transporting them to the fun community children’s activates often held at the library due to aforementioned hours. Highly impoverished parents may not have money for the bus to do likewise, adjacent to a 12 year old boy caught begging his mailman for junk mail seeking something to read; he too had no money for the bus to take him to the library, no books at home, distance too far to walk. One social media post including his picture elicited thousands of responses and as many books as he could hope to read, hoping to share them with other children perhaps facing the same predicament. Returning to my friend, she has a smartphone now directly because her sister added her to her phone plan furnishing my friend’s for free and adding her to the overall bill; her previous blackberry style phone was part of an initiative to give low income persons cellphones correlating to the disappearance of the payphone, how many of them don’t own vehicles aimed at keeping vulnerable people safe, yes those dreaded Obama phones, upgraded from the standard flip phone by the purchasing store when several of the flip variety failed to activate properly. Her aunt sent her a digital camera no longer used by the relative, still they lag at developing the photos of their 5 kids and various milestones for cost of developing prints; why when her husband saw one at the local good will/thrift store for $2 he bought it, all it needed was an SD card, brand he was able to switch out with his wife’s. It’s much the same story with the videogame consoles they own a mishmash of his and hers; A- bought before either were married to the other, before their kids were born, when they had 1-2 children and he a better paying, steady job. B- almost none of them bought at full price rather garnered from used videogame, console stores Slackers a popular chain spanning the Midwest also known for selling CD’s, topping out at the X box 360 because it’s the last console that doesn’t require internet for basic set up. C- games also never bought at full price rather at that store or his buddy who owned a pawn shop cleaning up when the man went out of business and just wanted inventory gone, would let him pay in installments and give him deals because he was such a frequent customer phenomenon happening regularly where they shop because they are seen so often; still usually reserved for single birthday, anniversary and Christmas gifts to each other costing about $5 per game no more than $50 per console. Also they and select movies, other collectables they have are being accumulated after their children’s namesakes to be given to their kids as an ‘inheritance,’ remembrance of their father once he passes away, not just frivolous money waste. These are people whom I bought bathmats for when I discovered they didn’t have any and why; because, at the end of the month they might have $5 left over not the 20-30 you can dole out for bathmats (bought 2 at a time to cover necessary floor space) able to survive past one washing, people who struggle to afford $2 of dish soap some months, and no, during these months they are not buying videogames. Comparing notes over the years as we landed in the same neighborhood a year after each other and I’ve watched her kids grow up, I realize how important small details are when it comes to her having been in walking distance of Taekwondo classes and able to wheedle the money from her mother for a short time, within walking distance, and completely healthy, of our mutual junior high thus able to participate in band and choir, again able to wheedle the money from her mother for the former, power of her feet translating to able to show up for practices, take theater tech in high school. I in stark contrast was born with cerebral palsy, walk to this day with forearm crutches and could never walk as far as my peers, lived farther away from community resources and, because of my slower movements, I was always hurrying to catch the bus so never had time to learn our high school rented word processing laptops out overnight to complete assignments, in elementary school got an office referral for not completing a homework assignment because I had no means to do so; information I needed likely in an almanac that could be viewed in the school’s library but not checked out (due to it being a reference book) but since there was no study hall, and I rode the bus home, no chance for me to do the work, certainly not overnight. Both her and I part of the transitional generation between hand written letters, typewriters and the computer, now the tablet and smart phone; compartmentalizing the upheaval and neglect in her home life there was cable at home and at her aunt’s where she spent summers of her formative years, there was internet and computers at home giving her technology foundations I never had. Because me and my mother were lower middle class, bordering on the higher end of poor paying for TV wasn’t an option and viewed as a waste of money, a view I still hold and why this blog has so decried the digital transition still almost a decade later which forced people onto basic cable plans to get what used to be over the air channels, new local digital offerings that were supposed to come from a digital capable TV or converter box and antenna, but didn’t because signals not held by cable companies remain far too weak; computers not something my mother had any interest in, the internet as foreign to her when it came out as social media is to most 80 year olds today. Behind such a backdrop my highest facility with a computer program remains Microsoft word, skills garnered from a patient creative writing teacher in high school, my senior year where I got my first taste of the internet thanks to an extra study hall; in college I managed to get a computer and hone my skill in word creating various documents for fun because it was included with the laptop purchase circa 2001 versus extra funds for an office package. Took the required intro computer course that taught basic terms, precursors to a programming or information systems degree plus common software usage; I remember feeling like an idiot sending my teacher an e-mail as a class assignment, feeling intensified when I questioned how I was to complete the assignment minus the common yahoo or Hotmail accounts prevalent back then, only to learn the school l had an e-mail system and give out free addresses to enrolled students. MS office skills honed again in a community clerical training/retraining program far from enough for me to obtain a job because of the litany of computer software they demanded prior familiarity with Dentrix, EagleSoft, PwerChurch, PageMaker, InDesign, Dreamweaver to name a few I had never heard of, only heard of or were exclusively for specific offices and if you haven’t worked in those offices you don’t possess facility with the software. So recently when my friend’s sister approached her about buying tablets for the kids and her husband initially was reluctant I said do it for the technology experience they will need in the future, the homework her oldest would be completing in the year(s) ahead admonishing neither of them wanted their kids ending up like I was, college educated, community trained and stubbornly unemployed. Portrait of 2 lives relegating state moves to the ultimate act of disrespect by officials at a time when get to know you assignments like I wish my teacher knew reveal exactly the dire straits these kids are just trying to survive in, demonstrating parents doing the best they can but unable to bridge the gap; parents who either don’t know about local resources or don’t have them in their area, ours thankfully does but still suffers from an information void especially among the people who need it most. Kids missing deported parents a full 2 years before president Trump decided to rescind DACA, started actively separating parents and children as an ‘illegal immigration deterrent,’ one whose required reading long isn’t signed because mom is absent a lot for whatever reason easily concluded culprit drugs, a problem epidemic in proportion thanks to opioids, kids who can’t do their homework for want of basic supplies like pencils in their house; to more expected things tired due to infant/toddler crying siblings, bullied on the bus and feeling sad, one who didn’t have a friend to play with, good news until everyone found out and quickly changed that. States, districts, counties, municipalities unconscionably syphoning funding away from schools already compensating for care students aren’t getting at home in greater numbers thanks to the opioid crisis; ground zero west Virginia where 90% of one school’s students qualify for free breakfast, teachers are faced with kids who don’t want to go home on weekends, speak freely at mealtimes about parents in jail, teachers making a habit of checking local papers to see if any of their students’ parents were arrested overnight, partnering law enforcement notifying school officials if they’ve had an interaction with parents during off hours so they are prepared to help distressed children, helping explain acting out and other negative behaviors. Teachers report having to inform a student’s classmates that a parent died during the night, over the weekend; then having to repeat the process as the opioid crisis claims more and more lives, leaving behind the smallest victims. 1/3 not living with their biological parents, instead grandparents, aunts/uncles, foster parents and extremely fortunate ones adoptive parents; that principal calling on volunteers from a local plastics company to serve as mentors to struggling kids in part to compensate for a school counselor only budgeted to work 3 days per week. Grandparents, retiree aunts and uncles in what’s supposed to be their golden years, assuming they themselves can afford to retire at all, predictably less able to afford school supplies on top of all the other things they are suddenly providing for children they never thought they would be raising. Profiles on the hardest opioid hit states underscoring something else about book deserts and implied laziness of parents; parents bringing up children in remote, rural, isolated areas where going to the library on backwoods, county, two lane, mountain roads isn’t easy assuming they have a car and driving license in the first place, identical realities centered around medical care, school attendance, hints the PBS featured program trying to stem the tide. Curiously though West Virginia officials couldn’t even get the messaging straight in response to the teacher’s strike; never did they bring up ways the opioid crisis had ravaged their state, if they are so ashamed of that fact, saying simply to keep the support services/community partnerships teachers are using there just isn’t money for raises. Coupling in the staggering percentages of poor people in these red state areas, the increasing number of persons across the nation living at and below the poverty line, how many of them are children, the calculated 40% of Americans who can’t afford an emergency $400 expense without borrowing the funds or selling something to get it, families who can’t afford diapers, who are relegated to buying the cheap ones that fall apart sooner necessitate using more; tying all these threads together, it’s the technology kids aren’t getting at home because parents can’t afford computers or tablets, bloated costs of internet service, the technology they aren’t getting at school when they’re foisting textbooks period on students never mind 12 plus year old ones ensconced in duct tape and we dare wonder why they’re not ready for work, worse blame them for what they never had access to or a chance to learn. Closer to middle class families aren’t immune to children fighting back against identical problems when they own a family computer but they don’t have the funds to add the extra computer programs i.e. publisher, illustrator giving their children the full range of purchasable software forget why they would do so, in prep for their offspring’s future jobs when the primary thing they intend to use it for is something else, initially bought it for school work, use it themselves for online shopping, booking plane tickets to family emergencies or googling phone numbers and weather reports. Families don’t have the dollars to buy both an office suite for their lap or desk top plus office 365 for a tablet, no matter who in the family is using which device; Access removed from the ‘standard’ office package when it became home and student versus the business option, who have no use for PageMaker, Dreamweaver, illustrator, adobe Animate exc., so why would they buy it, would expect their tech interested child to save their allowance, do odd jobs or get an after school job to afford it if they are so interested. Middle class families who can’t afford the continuous upgrades today’s technology repeatedly requires, so if they do have a computer in the home, it’s probably outdated or will be by the time their child graduates high school, enters college, open source programs like those found in LibreOffice often referred to as watered down version of a true office suite, lack in illustrator/publisher program for banners, logos, brochures and newsletters are confined to the most basic templates, ‘off brand’ photo editing, skills that won’t transition well when employers expect Photoshop competency; all the more reason schools need to be on the cutting edge, at minimum exposing students to popular, widely used software programs in a majorities daily lives, on good paying jobs across the country. And again, like with the apartment rental information given above, teachers, educators, school administrators, high school, community college, trade school, 4 year universities, parents of any child in any level of schooling, aren’t stepping up and saying no; we can’t teach every computer program used in the general public and/or in the job-a- sphere, clearly articulating why from an educational, brain wiring, how people learn standpoint it’s wrong to expect employees to know double digit numbers of computer programs. No you are not allowed to abdicate 99% of job training onto us because you want your employees to come to you ready made with a bow on top, because you want to hire someone at entry or midlevel and pile on job duties from other departments, miscellaneous catch all duties because you see from their résumé, gleaned from their interview they’ve worked with X program, platform Y concurrently writing job ads for employees best described: “it’s industry jargon meets The Jabberwocky,” another analyst calling them Swiss army knife job descriptions that want ‘a little of everything,’ wondering why you can’t fill a position. Reverting back to the Tim Cook’s assertion coding needs to be taught in school increasing the number of girls in tech as a positive byproduct; we should support teaching coding if it is part of the repertoire of knowledge imparted to students during 12 years of public education. Huge caveat, we should not support students being required to learn coding, somewhere along the line as a graduation requirement, so that employers can mandate ever growing piles of skills minus actually hiring the professional needed to do the specific job; instead of hiring a social media or communications specialist hiring a receptionist with a familiarity with those things and programs, instead of hiring a web designer or graphic designer for the volume of such things you do in banners, logos, brochures, newsletters, website management again hiring a receptionist to do it, instead of hiring an animator or someone with a related degree to do the volume of animation you need hiring someone in middle management who knows there way around programs like Adobe Animate at a maximum of $8 an hour entry level $15-20 for as many years experience. Never mind how many computer programs are either industry specific or employer specific again spelling sans previous experience in the field, no job for you, which is by design because they will not engage in one ounce of job training, but families should continue to shoulder more burdens, students, budding job seekers should be shut out because of the ‘everything’ they can’t possibly know in computer software; worth mentioning, employers could probably teach employees what they use it for in one 8 hour work day or take sections of an employee’s first week to teach multiple ones to a person with basic computer skills. And schools should be allowed to continue their draconian budget cuts because it’s not their problem either; are we to the point where the author can get a collective I don’t think so?
By all means fire bad teachers, remove teachers who should never have been allowed around children let alone teaching them, who should have been weeded out of the profession no later than their student teaching practicums, but guaranteed is you won’t garner any better teachers, never mind the best when you aren’t even paying commiserate, competitive wages with your tristate, regional demographic area. When a teacher in Oklahoma can go 40 miles across the border to Kansas, Kansas where fellow legislators, citizens finally pushed back against the Brownback budget, education gutting agenda and increase her annual earnings by roughly $10,000, giving her a quality of life she would not have had otherwise; when a teaching couple went from Oklahoma to Texas, he in regular ed. her in special ed., and increase their combined annual income by $38,000, talking about paying all their bills each month finally, saving for their first home all while maintaining an apartment, living expenses and caring for a young child, for the first time talking about the relief of financial stability. Proving it isn’t a cost of living issue where someone relocated from a known gargantuan cost of living city/state think New York city to a known very low cost of living state, it was as they reiterated, the ghastly low pay Oklahoma insists on paying it’s teachers; identical problem faced in West Virginia ‘bleeding teachers,’ one striking educator saying those with education credentials could go over the mountain and immediately increase their pay by $20,000. Mirroring an Arizona teacher who commutes 80 miles a day from the copper state to Needles California increasing her annual salary that redundant $20,000 within her first year alone; Needles a town most people couldn’t find with a road atlas and 20 guesses, again not Sacramento, Santa Barbra, San Diego, Las Angles, encompassing famous neighborhoods a-la Brentwood, Hollywood, that iconic zip code 90210. School districts, states paying the lowest educator, support staff salaries, spending the most minimal number per student in dollars simultaneously whining about a teacher shortage and high turnover rates; that is in schools, districts where they haven’t given up entirely on excellence in staff, competence in staff instead settling for a warm body to manage classrooms. Leading to episodes like the young man finally fed up with the quality of a particular class who challenged his teacher to actually get up off her ass (she wasn’t a person with a disability or bound to a wheelchair) and teach instead of doling out packets remarking some people don’t learn that way, his rant going viral; outbursts that would have the ‘kids today’ crowd gasping and yelping about respect totally missing, however profane his words the student was right, when you engage them, when you try, when you express empathy with either the lives they live, the difficulty of the material, where appropriate both, they will meet you halfway, when you don’t they won’t. Keep in mind the Oklahoma student showing off her masking tape bound, 12 year old textbook when asked if she wanted to stay in the state hardly let the reporter finish his sentence before saying she would go back to Texas, who spends multiple thousands more dollars per student, realities that can be tangibly felt on every aspect of education there; and we’ve seen the consequences of putting unqualified, incompetent people in critical jobs the 9-1-1 operator who told a caller seeking to save their dying friend “deal with it yourself.” Another just disclosed case of a child who died of an asthma attack because parents called 5 times before the call went through to an actual dispatcher instead of routed to a firehouse where no one picked up; doctors telling the family had she received more immediate care, she probably would have lived, the crux of their lawsuit against the city of Los Angles. Ohio police officers investigating the teen reportedly stuck in his van, who repeatedly called giving the make and model of his car, reiterating this is not a joke, who never got out of the car in the school parking lot to look up close for the vehicle or the teen; the mother who reported the kidnapping of her daughter after receiving a call hearing her abductors in the background, but when she called 9-1-1 they said it was a hoax. Ultimately girl shot 3 times, left for dead, clinging to life unable to move her arms or legs; gang members thought responsible in jail. On top of the uncovered use of ex-cons to man emergency phones because cities want to pay less than the going minimum wage, dispatchers falling asleep at their phones, hanging up on people ‘because aint not body got time for this’ or they, the dispatcher didn’t feel like talking; because elsewhere cities, counties, municipalities not using former criminals still refuse to pay a living, functional commiserate wage to attract the caliber of people necessary to do sensitive work, and that represents only one sector of critical jobs. Many of the striking teachers states not only have unhappy educators as public workers but all sectors of lower rung public employees strapped social workers, state troopers rationing gas, overcrowded prisons; hardly new, a few short years ago one city’s public building told to bring their own toilet paper. Are we that dense, we fail comprehension so badly we’ve lost the idea maybe teachers wouldn’t be so prone to dumping pencil shavings down inattentive students mouths, yanking chairs out from under them, trying to wash their mouth out with soap for bad language, or encountering it at all, if they weren’t spread so thin, working so many jobs, weren’t stressed about paying their own bills; are we so far gone as fellow human beings we don’t compute they might possess a snowball’s chance in hell of finding the time to innovate, reengineer their teaching style if they weren’t running between jobs it takes all the fingers on one hand to count? That if they paid a locally competitive wage they might be able to pick better teachers than those merely desperate for a job, in it for the health benefits, remembering the class of 2009 update saw an architecture degree student signed up for Teach for America who landed teaching middle school students; reread in the introduction about the teachers given about 6 weeks training and deposited into the classroom. Imagine momentarily if teachers were able to spend all their take home pay on, novel idea, themselves, their rudimentary needs, their families as opposed to splitting too thin funds between outfitting their classrooms, affording supplies for students who don’t have them, playing BYO cleaning supplies to keep areas beyond their own room sanitary; how many of their 5, to hear D. Watkins tell it 10, jobs could they quit on that singular change alone? The teacher, who teaches 7:45 to 3:00 p.m., goes to his pitching coach job till 6:00 p.m. and between 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., sometimes 2:00a.m. the next day drives an Uber should be able to eat dinner at home with his kids, which is his desire; society’s cultural crusaders regularly talk about fatherless homes, absentee dads, type A personality workaholic dads using work and providing for their families as an excuse to avoid their families. Never talked about right up there with how many African American males who have children are shot by police for jaywalking, loose cigarettes, deciding whether or not to buy a pellet gun in a Wal-Mart, dubious reports about waving a gun in a parking lot while selling CD’s to earn cash for your family after ‘oppressive justice’ felonies on your record have removed all other choices. Dubiously fitting the vague description of a robbery suspect then dutifully trying to inform the officer you have a lawful, conceal and carry permitted weapon in your vehicle in a state where yes that’s a thing and cops of all people should know it, or playing loud music in one’s own garage, whose children are left fatherless because of overzealous policing tactics and trigger happy, panic driven cops. Only for prosecutors to refuse to criminally indict and juries to return civil suit monetary judgements like the one linked below of $4; saying ‘shot in his own garage’ was 99% responsible for his death forget it was a noise complaint lodged by a woman picking her kid up across the street, he opens the door, there’s an exchange, he growing tired of the conversation shuts his garage door, they fire 3 shots into it one striking the man in the head, officers justifying their actions alleging the unloaded gun found could have been moved to his back pocket while he was behind the door and out of sight, narrative conveniently forging the whole shot in the head business. Still asked to consider his 3 children, their father who is never coming back, can’t provide for them, came back with such an insulting award broken down $1 for funeral costs, $1 for each of his children; judge going further reducing the judgement to zero based on the percentage of fault jurors placed on him. Sooner rather than later America must talk about the absentee dads who aren’t absent because women routinely pick the wrong people to be in relationships with, are promiscuous not caring who they sleep with, fail to use any birth control at all never mind effective birth control; persons in stable, often married relationships where fathers don’t want to be but are absent earning a living for their families, managing basics like rent, utilities, food, clothing. Deeper solidifying actual reality versus long running stereotypes, go back and count how many have spouses also working second jobs leaving older children to fend for themselves and grow up fast caring for their younger siblings while parents work themselves to the bone. We have to legitimately ask ourselves if what we are doing in remaining committed to paying our teachers so little, forcing them to work so many jobs is worth the forthcoming delinquents like those listed in paragraph 2 and more besides via parental neglect we orchestrated; then have the nerve to call them bad teachers who should be unceremoniously fired replacing them with worse not better, truth be told. Examining school dynamics contributing to both the bad teacher and bad kids perceptions, we’ve seen what happens when we seriously restrict and invade people’s personal space via the incidents on airplanes accurately described as meltdowns, flight attendants and pilots suffering the same dealing with passenger shenanigans; they’re uncaring, ineffective, profit driven response, to make flying potentially more uncomfortable with so called standing seats on planes, sure that’ll work spectacularly. How is it that we’ve never connected being jammed into a place like sardines negatively effects behavior, how is it we’ve never extended said thought process to our overcrowded schools; concluding at least some of the fights, disruptive behaviors and defiance is because they are sandwiched in on top of each other adding in the hormones of adolescence and later teen years, home stresses teachers and staff regularly remain clueless about, who knows if they possess enough desks for students enrolled. Remembering the boy who reportedly beat up his principal over being asked to remove his headphones did so because A- the principal came up on him without hearing then tried to physically remove the phones and B- because he had just lost his mother, boys more likely to react physically in expressing their feelings; we seriously don’t know the death in the family had something maybe everything to do with it. Now imagine if that school took the same approach as ones combatting opioids making an effort to get to know students, if they have food at home, whether they got any sleep that night and if a parent dies, so they can help them; imagine if good teachers, in this case principals, weren’t so strung out running from job to job, working with a thinner than shoestring budget they actually could do that. Back to overcrowding and centuries old style seating, our response just as tone deaf saying bottom line kids should behave no if and’s or buts; hold such thinking up to the showcased remodels of classrooms after major tech company campuses, children allowed to choose seating and move freely were more focused, classroom management much less of a problem, so what do we need to do? Meanwhile Arizona teachers holding degrees who make less than in intern in their own state’s department of transportation and less than a dog walker in Atlanta are called out because they want the support staff and specialists needed to handle problems they know they can’t; this blog and author not one of those who thinks that if a sports star, entertainer makes millions so should teachers, teachers should be revered on par with the Dalai Lama, called sensei like in other countries. Because, then the motivation is money not imparting knowledge, dedication to watching children learn and grow as individuals, making better citizens in the first instance; and, setting up a dangerous dynamic in the latter instance when we automatically revere teachers the way previous generations did sans looking at present reality essentially giving carte blanch to predators, abusers of their power over students. Blog author also against making schools like palaces they never want to leave to go home, lightyears better than home even for the most affluent students akin to tough love, kids need discipline sorts pointing out the juvenile detention facility had video games these kids don’t have at home, how wrong it was they were using it as a reward for good behavior, assuming it wasn’t an exaggerated trope to begin with. But these aren’t the money grubbing, self-centered people; for themselves, they want their slice of the American dream working in a career yet they want more for their students, the tools to maximize their educations. Neither are there any indications these are teachers, in any striking state, who don’t care, who, assessing all appearances, hate children yet inexplicably landed in the classroom, pursued a career in education for nothing apart from the ‘perks’ of health insurance; actually the total opposite, featured are teachers who are raising their voices, pulling out their camera phones taking pictures of the deplorable conditions in their schools, one who has a chemistry degree worked in industry for a time, gave it up to teach, to give back who now merely wants to live on the sums she makes. Again there is a drastic difference from the fame and fortune of known musicians, actors, directors, sports persons and a living wage, the financial ability to work one job and focus on that job plus their individual families, their own biological, legal children not merely the ones they teach. Teachers Lawrence O’Donnell aptly pointed out post parkland no one will get combat pay for despite president Trump wanting to arm them to ensure student safety, teachers armed or not who threw themselves between kids and the danger of bullets, the latest taking 3 and living tell the tale thwarting a shooter in an Indiana middle school; providing gut wrenching contrast a teacher lost in a school shooting merely gets unceremoniously removed from the payroll as if they never existed. Next there is a drastic difference between making every school in the nation look like an American Taj Mahal, as inviting to kids at the local Dave and Busters, Chuck E. Cheese, McDonalds or Burger King play place and basic structural stability, go back up to previous videos of the Arizona teacher talking about how many times her students had been ousted from their classroom for floods, repairs, building inevitably rendered structurally unsound, look again at the pictures of Detroit’s dilapidated schools thought to be making students and staff ill; we can surely put a stop to that. Likewise there is a difference, an uncomplicated solution to mental institution, eye stinging monochrome white walls everywhere, prison drab, dullness one of my college classmates talked about when she visited relatives in Germany and toured a school there circa 2004-2006; all it takes, an interior decorator willing to work pro bono, a group of community members with an eye for such decorating to put engaging colors on the wall, enlist students to help paint murals, calm, soothing colors in places you want calm, brighter vibrant colors in places of high activity. Good compromise for the less creatively inclined, variations on the school colors, mascot logos providing the vibrance and stimulation needed to engage people at a fraction of traditional cost; look at the principal video linked below he brought a new energy to the school skateboarding through the hallways to connect with students, putting his desk on wheels to appear in classrooms and be a positive force not just someone students are sent to when in trouble, starts days with positive messages to staff and students including telling them, if no one’s told you today know that I love you, galvanizing change by using what others would call graffiti, police would label tagging to liven up the walls of his school, spray paint costing less than traditional paint while you’re at it. By all means cull bad teachers from your ranks, institute practical measures to avoid hiring bad teachers going forward, but don’t you dare call a teacher bad making the best of well surpassing subpar materials and fighting for more, better ones the only way they can by walking off the job in a strike. Don’t you dare blame teachers for lagging performance when of course kids hate school, have been made to hate school because we have done away with art and music for budget reasons, fun activities, field trips and other things that would be if it weren’t for a shortage of cash, nixed recess and Phys ed. for increased academic performance, without it ever having shown it does anything while including recess and PE have been known to boost it, cut down on in class problems as little kids get the chance to be kids; in older grades again there are no AP classes, AP teachers and few electives giving students the opportunity to explore things that interest them, find anything that excites them on top of, notice the repetition, electives they don’t have time for up against graduation requirements. Communities dropping the ball not providing free recreational actives that expose kids to more things schools now can’t, activities if cultivated could spell future jobs, where are community drives ensuring every kid goes to school with the supplies they need to learn; why do we insist on parents doing something they increasingly can’t afford to do, have them supplying mutual classroom supplies rather than building it into budgets and handing out supply bags on the first day of school, or is that too liberal, too democratic socialist for anyone to wrap their head around? Completing the trifecta downward spiral no technology to better engage students, to try flipping the classroom, to foster learning in those who thrive on the interactive educational computer games, tech middle schools that integrate the old and new using technology to teach having students create themes on social media, writing of each other’s social media walls all about To Kill a Mocking Bird required to cite page numbers for their thoughts and ideas connecting them back to the physical text. Tech integrated high schools using current tools to teach kids how to research and support their ideas using things like google scholar, kids who won’t say a word in class but vividly participate in classroom discussion boards online; school I fervently wish I’d had the opportunity to go to. But it’s the teacher’s fault they are bored and unengaged, there are some students they just can’t reach, students are more fidgety in uncomfortable desk and chairs, red striking states not getting the classroom revamps other places have been for roughly the last 5 years at minimum; no, it’s not. By all means show to the door bad teachers so frustrated and geriatric they are smacking kids in the head, shoving them against walls ‘so furious’ over a kindergarten kid thinking running off to the bathroom was a game, elaborating she was sick of his patents and going to tear him apart; though parents say they were never told about his behavior, commenters were genuinely worried about what this teacher would do when confronted with a real, more serious problem, and treating them like an inconvenience. Please do remove from any classroom a teacher who grabs a kid by the throat and proceeds to lift him up off of his feet because he cussed the teacher out, all the more needed considering said teacher was supposed to be a behavioral specialist, children who suffer broken jaws at the hands of staff trying to discipline them; except he’s 7 calling into question exactly how much of a danger he could be, wherever his offense it didn’t deserve that or the several missing teeth. Yes we all understand there’s no fighting in school but it shouldn’t mean having to have your leg amputated afterwards because school officials were slow to get you medical attention despite an inability to walk and saying your leg was going numb; adding insult to injury lying about it to cover the school’s behind knowing full well there are surveillance videos. Exit stage left teachers shoving autistic kids in trashcans or paper towels down special needs students’ throats, teachers who dole out racist homework/class assignments, say racist comments in class other unquestionably inappropriate things. These are the truly bad teachers, teachers needing to be fired not ones who only want to be paid what their worth and be given the materials to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
Solving the low performance metrics present in some schools research and tangible results show means looking to individual solutions catered to individual regional areas, districts even specific school buildings not whole sale, big box, one size fits all changes school and education reformers are fond of starting in areas nationwide; perhaps the most famous Geoffrey Canada and Michelle Rhee made temporary household names and learning champions by the documentary Waiting for Superman. Chronicling inner city kids waiting for a charter school lottery, ‘revolutionary’ dynamics at the school Canada founded and Rhee’s attempt to upend the galvanized wall of unionized teachers sitting though those lengthy review processes and calling out the craziness of tenuring a teacher after 2 years. Initiatives began since then or simultaneously by the big names in tech and industry, think Gates and Zuckerberg, to minimal results; you’ll notice most of the people or the programs have fizzled out and at its rudimentary core it’s because Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone didn’t spell the reform he hoped it would, stepping down as president after 14 years. As popular as it is for education reformers and teacher skeptics whose sentiments follow along identical lines as those described in the introduction, Rhee’s totally unsuccessful attempt to reengineer D.C. schools, do away with dysfunctional bureaucracy, cut loose the bottom 5% of teachers, and as she told Oprah circa 2010, replace them with just the ones deemed average, to the betterment of students topping our ranking internationally too she crowed, wasn’t due to all powerful teachers unions, teachers, administrators and public officials so entrenched in their ideology they wouldn’t let change effect how things had been done for so long; it was how she went about it, the dynamics of the school she closed, the neighborhoods around the teachers she fired that got both her and her boss, the current mayor, ousted from their jobs by the votes of the very black people she was trying to help, expecting praise and appreciation she was incredulous she didn’t get. Wrongly boiling success down to student rankings, school rankings and test score nothing else; critics nationwide calling out Rhee repeatedly on her op-ed articles, her newest organization, her hypocrisy at calling out design flaws in standardized testing then saying teachers, students and parents should not be advocating opt-outs even when the tests covered things that weren’t taught in the teacher’s classroom over the year, one state using 33 different standardized tests for various entities tied to funding to name but 2 major issues. School boards, districts, counties resorted to tenuring teachers so quickly due to conditions all throughout the piece, tangible facts this blog brought up when deconstructing Waiting for Superman nearly a full decade ago; situations only seeming to have gotten worse on the front lines of keeping adequate teachers in states and in classrooms. What does work, one of Rhee’s critics hit on it using the ‘reformer’s’ own story, how she went from failing abysmally in her first year at, god help us, Teach For America, to doing better the second; less the rigid child of Korean immigrants toughness (sadly fitting an Asian stereotype they can’t seem to escape) and more being taught effective methods and how to use them by fellow and veteran teachers, extrapolating on the larger scale to taking mostly good teachers and making them better. What else works, things talked about in the middle portion of paragraph 4, initiatives schools were taking to help children of opioid addict parents whom neither they or the school could count on for anything at home; techniques to help Josiah, a Cape Cod grade schooler, with his repeated acting out and fighting an example of the social emotional learning teachers clapped back about when president Trump suggested arming them with guns after parkland. Steps capable of much more than mitigating devastation of the opioid crisis but could be an effective tool on the frontline of early interventions for kids who may have mental illnesses, be on the autism spectrum moving past the required teacher forms to codify an ADHD diagnosis, dealing with the true reason behind behavior parents see but don’t understand, discipline that doesn’t work because the child has an actual problem, may be the final piece to getting a child seen by their pediatrician or a referral to the appropriate specialist. Restorative justice measures aimed at removing suspensions and doing away with expulsions does work if you put in the supports necessary to make it work, the counselors and diversions required, and where it didn’t work is where they implemented the first half but not the last half; facts the school staff themselves underscored to local reporters angry at school administration for their implementation methodology of policy not the policy itself. Measures when done right and well where enacted ending the school to prison pipeline often heard of but so very misunderstood; students suspended especially for the longest periods of time fall significantly behind in learning, are prone to giving up and dropping out rarely pursuing a GED, students expelled struggle to find another school system if they even bother based on their bad experience with their previous school district, both groups then prone to roaming the streets, getting into mischief, getting arrested and starting on a path of revolving door incarceration, escalating offenses. To say nothing of the role race has been proven to play in punishments doled out to students as early as pre-k; officials who see a black/brown kid and a white kid commit the same offence and think the black/brown kid will need more rounds of punishment more of their time inputted to correct behavior. In 2013 when confronted with suspension metrics and the reason behind them LA unified school district, the same one to pilot removing suspensions and expulsions, first removed suspensions for something they called ‘willful defiance,’ student racking up suspensions for failing to do homework or failing to bring their notebook to class; actions the superintendent sanely noted indicated adolescence not defiance, another word, forgetfulness, we can bet teachers never asking if they had means to complete the work or funds to buy the needed notebook. A white principal at a totally black and brown school knowing she was the last thing wanted within 20 miles turned to the school’s ‘gangsters’ to transform the school by firstly refusing to Fed X 32 students off campus after a riot, breaking the rule of never bringing rival gang members into a room bringing them together to talk about what would bring peace to her school not leaving until they began to open up; then showing genuine care to the students in her school greeting them every morning, asking how they are, willing to go to a student’s home if they don’t show up for days, mastering the art of the fist-bump, free style rap at 80, eliminating suspensions and replacing it with restorative discipline and student court where fellow students decide your punishment for wrongdoing, countering the testing culture with maker spaces encouraging creativity, expression and innovation, noting high schools are frozen in time. Gone are the turf wars between 17 rival gangs playing out on what’s supposed to be a high school campus, riots, kids thrown the windows and bleeding out through their neck, graduation rate 93%. One elementary school replaced detention with meditation and conflict resolution mediation; a principal faced with skyrocketing absenteeism at another elementary school finally went door to door in her community asking students why and upon receiving a consistent answer, students lacked clean clothes because there wasn’t a washer or dryer at home what money parents had spent on food, there was one but their mom or dad couldn’t afford the electricity at the time, embarrassed to come to school in dirty laundry. Instead of calling child services on dozens of families she reached out to an appliance company asking for help, when they said yes devised a program using parents and volunteers where you bring a bag of clothes with you to school, we’ll wash them for you during the day and you’ll always have clean clothes; attendance went back to normal expected levels, student confidence and proficiency went up too. Spurring that appliance company to donate washer dryer sets to other schools looking to duplicate what she had done; video commenters marveling at how far you get when simply asking people what’s going on, listening and going about fixing the issue rather than dialing a hotline and washing your hands of it. New Mexico and other school districts ended a practice known as ‘lunch shaming’ denying kids a lunch if they had no money in their accounts or had an outstanding lunch bill; even to the point of firing lunch ladies willing to dip into their own pockets to replace the $2.00 for the cost of a child’s food, the equivalent for several children’s meals who needed them. Another school plagued with behavior problems took the West Virginia approach, after answering basics like do kids have food, do they feel safe at home and school staff and specialists getting to the root of behavioral problems finding out why the child got off the bus in tears and devising a solution to their problem heading off all day explosive behavior stemming from whatever happened. Comfort/therapy dogs have been deployed to disaster zones to ease the trauma of either victims or first responders, sent into schools after shootings; now in one school they are being used to quell conflict, anxiety and help solidify social and emotional skills on par with programs like reading with Rover, reading to shelter pets known to boost confidence and competence reading to a non-judgmental entity. One school in a rough part of Philadelphia fed up with constant violence and fights decided on a controversial approach, starting in the new year their 37 8th graders (the highest grade in the k-8 elementary school) would be offered $100 each if they were involved in no fights for year, but if one student messed up the all lost. Effect well before the final result, suspensions down, grades up and morale with it; one young man gaining social status as a leader instead of a tough guy, another parent happy to not be getting calls every other day telling her, her daughter had been in a fight, grades also improved. Other schools have heeded CDC findings indicating school start times need to be pushed back later because adolescent and teen bodies are hardwired not to be able to fall asleep before 11:00pm; growing bodies even at these ages who still require 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night, already not gotten due to over packed schedules of activities, tutoring, volunteering or job in perp to go to college of helping out their strapped family, grades suffering too even as late as college. Lack of sleep directly tied to some of America’s enduring health problems too including obesity, high blood pressure and depression; to combat just that another school followed tech company trends and purchased nap pods allowing students pulled in 100 different directions to recharge, billed as not for the lazy but for those just trying to keep it all together. Teachers enacting no homework polices in the lower grades are making waves but generally seen as the right move for small kids who need the time at home to de-stress spend time with family and are more likely to learn responsibility doing chores, helping mom and dad than filling out and turning in worksheets. Teachers beyond Allen elementary school in Indiana who understand success is drastically positively changed behavior whether it takes all year, a student with help no one knew they needed prior to that year coming from behind to elevate their reading by 2 grade levels in a single academic year, a child diagnosed dyslexic who finally understands why they struggle at learning and can get the proper help on the path to success, dido a kid with autism. The kid who hates reading who has now found an interest in a type of book, genre they will willingly pick up unprompted, the kid who hated math who has found their confidence at least with the material taught in the given year. Google helped rural Tennessee solve it’s growing technology gap by Wi-Fi equipping busses and giving students locked only to school work computers to do homework on the way to and from school, working perfectly in conjunction with long commutes sometimes lasting up to an hour and a half for outlying students; in addition to combatting the internet they don’t have at home to do increasingly tech required homework, another upside is for the bus driver especially on winding 2 lane very curvy roads, kids are focused on their work, there’s a teacher on the bus to keep kids on track and help, rather than throwing paper wads, horse-playing and taking her attention off the road. Not to be outdone are initiatives by the students themselves including apps to prevent bullying offering students a place to sit at lunch or giving teens a chance to rethink that mean message, buddy benches to promote friendships and cut down on bullying, a high school where no student eats lunch alone. One girl, sick of reading class assignments about white kids and seeking story characters who looked like her, shared her life experiences set out to find books about black children and by black authors gaining the attention of CBS This Morning. Alternative schools that are more than warehouses for bad kids or those with delinquent test scores; Arkansas a steeply red state bucking the trend and instituting a program meant to help at risk students not create more societal problems in a few short years replacing dilapidated buildings, mobile trailers with nothing but computer based and online coursework with supports needed by troubled teens mental health services and smaller 1:15 classroom ratios if not smaller so that one student coping with issues described thus “family crises — her estrangement from her father, her stepmother’s terminal cancer — shadowed her through the hallways. She experimented with drugs and got C’s, D’s and F’s in class,” found a close knit community of both students and supportive adults, opposite of harsh discipline an alleged physical abuse coming out of traditional alternative schools, who understood what she was going through calling it that a big support system “You go around the corner and there’s somebody to help you.” Another student described how confused he was in subjects like math and how teachers at the alternative school actually helped him so he wasn’t leaving questions blank and wasn’t causing disruptions best guess because he was never made to feel stupid for asking a question and teachers were willing to meet him where he was, catching him up, learning how he learns best and presenting information that way, likely catching no shortage of children with dyslexia and other missed learning disabilities mental health problems to boot. Teachers who notice when a child is frustrated and deal with it, note when a child can hardly stay away and find out why discovering family issues or working late then have the kid put their head down in a quiet room for about 30 minutes noting a day will not be ruined over a nap. Makes you wonder why all schools don’t operate like this so we don’t need alternative schools, create schools children actually want to come to, places where the adults they spend 7 hours of their day with 5 days a week with actually understand where they are coming from, what they deal with instead of too many administrators who are as stuck in the 1950’s, 1960’s as their hairstyles, discipline styles and approach to running their schools; how many teachers in striking states had smaller class sizes as one of their goals, students at smaller colleges and high school’s talking about how much it meant to them teachers cared enough to notice when they weren’t in class, actually knew their name, could match it to their face, at certain smaller colleges or specialty high schools who would call students to check in, find out why they weren’t in class. One woman in light of the opioid crisis started a school with one admissions requirement; you must be an addict combining the aspects of recovery with high school; to stay in you have to stay clean, some successful some not, but for the ones that are it’s a fighting chance and hopes to serve as a model for future school as the opioid crisis continues and teens become addicted younger and younger. Perhaps the key to greater college admissions and college achievement is putting it out there as an opportunity even to poorer students, helping students who have the ability to go, the grades to potentially qualify for scholarships do assumed simple things like complete the FASA form for financial aid, fill out the reams of college admissions paperwork poorer students have no one in their families who’ve done it before they can ask for help. Here too is why the SAT revised its standards to everyday vocabulary and words found on actual jobs, to level the playing field in a billions of dollars testing and test prep industry poorer students don’t have access to. Once on campus making sure these kids with a unique life experience can find ways to fit in, connect with others like them also attending because that too is a big reason why first in their family to attend college students end up dropping out, there is no one like them and nothing they can relate to. In the era of trigger warnings and safe spaces, student protests and social justice warriors run amuck by all accounts even colleges have forgotten the basics, all those fads don’t matter when yeah there scholarship or financial aid pays for books and supplies, room and board for out of towners, but doesn’t cover meal plans students then struggle to buy or go hungry especially when you’re talking about member of the above crowd not the legacy students, not the affluent ones, when students go to bed hungry after having not eaten all day or by collage are again choosing between eating and doing laundry; guaranteeing free or subsidies meal plans too much to hope for though greatly needed. Transforming education may start with functional teacher pay but ends when educators, administrators at all levels transform their thinking to match the times, start being innovative instead of encapsulated in rutted thinking from the last century; if only we could get them to see that.