Why there are no atheists in the classroom

This is derived from a post I saw on Facebook, and tempered with real observations of teaching in public schools.

A teacher being interviewed by an administrator:

‘Let me see if I’ve got this right.

‘You want me to go into that room with more than thirty kids, confiscate cell phones and iPods, stop bullying and sexual harassment, watch for signs of abuse, tell boys to pull up their pants, girls to cover their breasts and genitals, censor T-shirt messages, while instilling a love for learning and respect for authority.

“You want me to either whip out an Uzi or throw myself in front of deranged gun-toting wackos, who can walk off the street into a building with lax security, and few exits.

‘You want me to check backpacks for weapons, explosives, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, raise self-esteem and personal pride by celebrating expected behavior, and rewarding mediocrity.

“You want me to encourage maturity and independence in the classroom, but you won’t give me regular bathroom breaks or allow me sufficient time to eat or drink.

‘You want me to teach students how to read, write, do math, understand patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job. But you don’t want me to complain about my pay, go on strike, or take a day off, even when I am sick.

“You want me to diversify my teaching, individualise to all 150 students I have per semester, and even tutor them on my time as well as attend extra-curricular events. But you don’t want to treat me like a professional, or even as a unique individual, only as a replaceable widget, a faceless drone of secondary education.

“You want me to document every idea being taught, in every assignment, and whether or not students understand it, and how I am going to reach them if they don’t or won’t understand it.  You want me to do this without having any time to plan, and my schedule filled with administrative tasks that have little or no impact on academics or student achievement, but meet the need of data gatherers who must justify their salaries by making life miserable for those who focus on learning and student success.

‘You want me to check their heads for lice, cigarette burns, signs of cutting, drug use, gang activity and other signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the standardized exams.

“And if kids come to school hungry, from broken homes, suffering from sleep deprivation, with no respect for authority, or desire to learn, and they don’t — or won’t — pass the standardized exams, I will be considered a bad teacher, have my pay cut, or be fired.

‘You also want me to provide students with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by email, letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card. But you won’t talk to me directly, or involve me in decisions that impact my job, or even inform me in a timely manner when arbitrary decisions are made.

“You want me to post grades on the Internet so parents can nit pick why their child did not get the A instead of the A+ they surely deserve, particularly when the parent does the work for them.

“You want me regularly grade student work without requiring them to be in class, and when they do miss class, I am to provide the work they missed so they can make it up, whenever they feel like it, and turn it in the day grades are due.

‘You want me to do all this using resources I have to pay for out-of-pocket, with out-dated technology and text books in the class room, and possibly with just a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a smile, while collecting a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

‘You want me to do all this, and then you tell me……


Up on the Soap Box

teacher and its importance

Sent this off to the local newspaper.  Probably won’t see the light of day there, but here it is, in all its hyperbolic glory.  Enjoy the rant!

I don’t understand the current hatred of teachers, and the teaching profession in general. Underpaid, overworked, disrespected, they are blamed for the societal ills that afflict today’s youth. The press teachers typically get is usually bad, focusing on the rare and unusual, and yet they all get tarred with that same brush. “Oh they don’t work all year” or “they get summers off” – gee, no kidding, when you work 60 hour weeks on a ten months contract, for pay you can’t live on, so a second job is required – yeah, you get tired. Teaching is a job, a passion, and a calling, but certainly not indentured servitude. If politicians spent more time supporting teachers, instead of prowling around dictating medical procedures, handing out guns, or flogging same sex couples, maybe something constructive could get done. But no, we need to create more rules to make government more intrusive, hold teachers “accountable” for policy maker stupidity (under the guise of getting rid of “bad” teachers), endlessly collect irrelevant and instantly out-of-date data, while allowing students to optionally attend class, optionally do assignments, and casually ignore due dates and school board rules. Since we mustn’t allow students to fail, because it would damage their psyche, we guarantee success by lowering expectations, and ensure another generation of entitlement leeches drain the wallets of their parents and the tax paying public. So keep those tax and budget cuts coming and ensure that not only will Johnny not be able to read, write or hold a job, but he will be living in your basement when you are retired, drinking your beer, making meth out of your prescription medications, and wondering how society failed him. Sometimes you get what you don’t pay for, so do the responsible thing and support your teachers.

Teacher Girl

I love my teacher girl. For me she is the embodiment of selfless courage, heroism, and unbounded love. She gets up before the break of dawn, to spend time with other people’s children, opening their eyes up to the possibilities that lay before them. Poor pay, long hours, overwhelming duties, arbitrary directives to comply with, bureaucratic obstacles to navigate, papers to grade — rarely is there time to rest, reflect, and prepare, before the cycle begins again. No time to eat or exercise, she is chastised for the crimes of others, blamed for the poor home life of her students. They come to her, broken and neglected, emotionally crippled, intellectual underachievers, pandered to, and falsely encouraged to embrace mediocrity. Despite the resistance, from co-workers, students, parents and administrators, she performs her Promethean task, of rolling academic rigor against ignorance and sloth. These efforts find success, in the margins, with those who embrace challenge, see hope, who don’t accept the status-quo. The cost is great, the hours long, the satisfaction fleeting, for those who carry lamps into the world to peel back the darkness of ignorance. At the end of the day, she leaves the arena of the academic coliseum, a momentary victor on some days, over the forces of illiteracy and superficiality. Some days are worse than others, as those who spew hate and false promises, chip away at her efforts. Yet, even as she collapses, exhausted and spent, with the regret unique to working mothers, of having to spend so much time with other people’s children, and not enough with her own, her thoughts eventually drift to challenge of the next day. My love – my hero – my teacher girl. How I love thee, and I wish the rest of the world did too.