Point of View

Posted on: 16 April, 09

Things are rather stressful around school lately.  The school budget could take a huge hit this year.  Huge.  Consequently, the district sent out letters to all non-tenured teachers stating that the district cannot guarantee contract renewal for any non-tenured teacher.  It is likely some positions will be lost, but no one knows how many or which ones.  Teachers have been told that those who still have a job in the fall will be expected to teach more classes with more students per class. 

To add to the fun and games, the state messed with the schedule for end of year testing.  It must now begin a week earlier.   Not only do the teachers now have a week less to cover the curriculum that will be on the test, there is also the issue of what to do with the students after testing.  Most students are of the mindset that once state testing is over, school is over for the year.  Getting them to focus and work after testing is an uphill battle.  Thanks to the new schedule, we will have almost a full month of school *after* testing.  Why are they doing this?  Well, if a student does not pass the first time, they get some remediation and then retake the test.  In the past, students generally got about three days of remediation before the retake.  The state now says they must get a full week.  Honestly, if three days of remediation doesn’t work, a week probably won’t either.  So, if you have a class of 30 and 20 students pass on the first try, how do remediate 10 for a full week?  What do you do with the other 20?  Remediate them too even though they passed?  Teachers argued for letting them keep the extra week *before* the first testing so they can review with the whole class and increase the chances of more students passing the first time. 

The other questions is what are teachers suppose to cover the last month of school?  In theory, these tests assess a student’s knowledge of the entire curriculum for a certain grade level.  That means a teacher must teach the entire curriculum before the test.  What do you teach after the test? 

Due to the budget issues, there is a freeze on spending.  There will be no more field trips for the rest of the school year.  Ok, I am not a big fan of most field trips.  However, it is tradition that the 8th grade has a fun field trip at the end of the year.  This is a big carrot the 8th grade teachers can hold out for the students.  Attendance on the trip is based on behavior.  It is about the only threat that holds any water with 8th graders in the last few weeks of school.  Last year, they went tubing down a local river.  Cheap trip, but the students loved it.  The trip has been denied this year. 

ARGH!!  on many levels…

School is a mess.  It is looking more likely I will have another knee surgery this summer.  When I called a friend this evening, I realized how much I was complaining.  (Oncoming migraine is not helping…) 

So, okay.  I have vented and whined.  Now I need to get over it.  I need to focus on the positive. 

Good things in my life:

1. My boys totally rocked their 3rd quarter report cards.  True, they are smart, but more importantly, they work hard.  I see lots of smart students who do not get good grades because they are lazy and don’t do their work.  I never have to fuss at my boys to their homework.  (not always the case…took us a while to get to this point)

2. Our school has amazing teachers who, despite the uncertainty of their paychecks, continue to teach, inspire, and encourage. 

3. I can sew beautiful things that make me happy.  I have enough fabric to continue sewing for many years to come.  :) 

4.  I have a friend who shares my obsession for really bad reality tv.  We have a great time getting together once a week and laughing at the ridiculousness of it. 

5.  My little blog is read by some lovely people who leave very kind comments.  Those little messages really do brighten my day. 


11 Responses to "Point of View"

Oh Teri, I am shaking my head at the lack of wisdom on the part of the school district. Decisions made for bad reasons like financial instead of thinking of what is best for the students. No, no it’s all about numbers. I can’t even imagine your frustration. (I won’t go off on a tangent, but this mentality is what made me go alternative which isn’t without it’s issues either!)

Anyway, immerse yourself in silly reality tv, and soon you will forget the annoying stuff.

I don’t comment often enough, but I read your “little blog” and enjoy it almost every day–sometimes twice a day!

Your discussion of the school problems reminds me of why I’m so glad NOT to be teaching anymore. Whew!

Our kids are doing their testing this week and next week. DD had a big math test on Tuesday and Wednesday. Language Arts must be next week.

Oh my…states and their strange ways.

My niece just accepted an teaching job in Charlotte..why leave NY state? Few is any teaching jobs..another bright mind lost to another state.

LOL…I indulge in exceedingly bad reality TV too! I share this ridiculous “hobby” with one of my friends. Our “reality train wreck” TV shows include, Survivor, Dancing With The Stars, and Celebrity Apprentice. Lately we have been pondering just when The Donald’s hair changed from Blond to the strange red hue it has now, LOL!

Sometimes we just have to vent! You’re on the right track thinking positive at the end 🙂

The above comment I wrote is loaded with typos…it’s very early here and I am on strong medication. I have an advanced college degree..really, I do ! 🙂

I feel your pain about the testing! Our state testing was in March, but for the 2 weeks (2 mornings each week) they don’t want to “stress” the kids so homework stops, and they don’t really push in the other classes. It really annoyed me because DS had finally gotten into some better work and homework habits and it totally wrecked that. And, it did not provide much opportunity for him to bring up a very poor mid-quarter Language Arts grade! He did do much better in his other classes this quarter, though!
We all need to be reminded to focus on the good things in life, don’t we? And sewing is definitely one of mine! And how lucky am I that I can look out my window from the computer and watch deer frolicking in the field?!

Yes, it is going to be very tough for many districts around the country. Sorry to hear about your knee surgery and congrats to your boys on the great grade cards.

It sounds as if your life, for the most part–is pretty darn good! You have a lot of wonderful things going on to focus on.

Facing the same cuts here, and it’s scary. The 4th graders always have gone on an “outdoor education” 2-night sleepout, but that was cut from the budget last year. Luckily parents had enough warning to be able to set up fundraising events, and those kids will still be able to go this year, but it will require a yearly effort to do that.

The testing schedule changes are bad- we are doing our state testing now so there’s still plenty of school left (we go to mid-June!). Interesting question about what do you teach after the test…

My hat is off to all those who teach middle and high school.
The amount of patience, courage, enthusiasm, and imagination that they must have to work both with the kids (going through adolesence… always a difficult time) and with uncomprehending instructions from on high… well, it’s staggering.
Thank God for good teachers.

I will never understand how a country that spends so much money on a war, chooses to cut costs in eduacation over and over again. It just makes no sense to me. Are we all getting more and more stupid in this country?

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