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Chicago teacher runs his mouth on blog, angers students
April 23, 2006 9:32 AM   Subscribe

A Chicago teacher vents about the situation at his school on his blog and ends up angering the student body, fellow teachers, and parents.
posted by bubblesonx (106 comments total)

 
Here's the blog
posted by the_bone at 9:41 AM on April 23, 2006


Actually, after reading the comments it's now clear that this isn't the original site for the blog... someone reposted some of the original entries from the now-deleted site.
posted by the_bone at 9:51 AM on April 23, 2006


Yeah, but I suppose if nothing else it will give us some idea of what was said on the original.
posted by bubblesonx at 9:52 AM on April 23, 2006


Well, no shit.
posted by Zozo at 9:52 AM on April 23, 2006


But like all bloggers, he wanted an audience, so he wrote in his blog that he had leaked news of his site to a few coworkers. Soon enough, the 30-year-old teacher's name was the talk of the school.

Haha. The writer of that article nailed the psyche of The Blogger. If the above statement is true, what a dumbshit. Blogging about work is the apex of stupidity. Once this stuff is out there, you no longer have control over it no matter how right it may be. My guess is that he's unfamiliar with how the internets work.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:07 AM on April 23, 2006


*shivers*
Also note several of the tell-tale signs of crazy included in the blog posts.
Use of capitalization for EMPHASIS.
Lack of spacing after periods. I think this gives the entries sort of a hand-wavey, breathless feel.

Dude's a chronic complainer. Full of complaints, and zero solutions.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:16 AM on April 23, 2006


Reminds me of Francis E. Dec
posted by The White Hat at 10:19 AM on April 23, 2006


Echoes of Bill Cosby's controversial "Pound Cake" speech.

I admire the teacher for his candor, but am irritated with his stupidity. Had he not outed himself to his coworkers, his blog could have done a lot more good. Now all the anger is being directed at him, instead of at the problems that he addresses.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:24 AM on April 23, 2006


"Although many of our students adopt tough facades and insist they are grown, they are still children: sensitive children who still crave guidance, encouraging words and positive reinforcement," wrote teacher Gina Miski. "Was the author present when students, having read the blog, dejectedly hung their heads with pained, angry tears stinging their eyes?"

That's as ridiculous a caricature as any of the blog entries, most likely.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:30 AM on April 23, 2006


So... the absence of hard returns and paragraphs makes me think it *wasn't* the English Teacher then.
posted by avoision at 10:31 AM on April 23, 2006


in an anonymous blog he called "Fast Times at Regnef High," a Fenger High School teacher
...
the teacher did not identify himself or his students, the exact name of his school

How stupid does he think they are?

*reads blog*

Oh.
posted by swell at 10:36 AM on April 23, 2006


Jesus. If I was a teacher and wanted others in my school to look at my blog, I'd make sure it was at least somewhat readable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:36 AM on April 23, 2006


"My guess is that he's unfamiliar with how the internets work."

Well, duh. He's thirty.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:43 AM on April 23, 2006


lol, mr_crash_davis.
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:51 AM on April 23, 2006


waddanidiot.
posted by delmoi at 11:05 AM on April 23, 2006


I viewed source to see if his paragraphs had been eaten, and it apears that if they have all traces of them are gone. His rants are just one single, long line.

What a disgrace that someone so illiterate could be a teacher.
posted by delmoi at 11:07 AM on April 23, 2006


Well, since it's not the original blog, it is possible that whoever reposted the entries neglected to add paragraphs.
posted by bubblesonx at 11:11 AM on April 23, 2006


What a disgrace that someone so illiterate could be a teacher.
It makes me wonder just how low the "union minimum" is.
posted by jrossi4r at 11:16 AM on April 23, 2006



Just to point out, part of the discussion about his rant should include the points he makes about the school. Teaching inner city can't be easy.
posted by fluffycreature at 11:22 AM on April 23, 2006


What a disgrace that someone so illiterate could be a teacher.

That's true, but if the facts on his blog are correct, I don't think that less-than-perfect faculty grammar is among the biggest problems facing the school.

A few misspellings, a few missed carriage returns-- the dude's not Shakespeare, but I understand what he's writing.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:23 AM on April 23, 2006


I'm going to pull two consecutive paragraphs out of the article, because I think they say everything that needs to be said.

The setup:
Latasha Ivy, 17, senior class vice president, found out about the blog last week and read it with her mom. They were both angry about the crude stereotypes and didn't understand why the teacher stayed if he was so miserable, she said.
and the payoff
"These are things that happen at Fenger - fights, drug-dealing, gangs - it happens here like it does at other high schools. I already feel bad when I tell people I go to Fenger, because they go, `Ooooh, that's a bad school.' But there are still people here trying to do something with their lives," said Latasha, who has been accepted at the University of Illinois this fall and plans to study biology.
Emphasis mine. Ms. Ivy, I suspect that you and the teacher agree far more than you disagree -- but you just accept the fact that this happens everywhere.

Perhaps that's part of the problem. Perhaps everyone should have access to a quality education that doesn't invovled fights, drug-dealing and gangs.

I'll also note that we live in a country where to teach in public school means living with a really lousy wage and benifit package, and, as a bonus, being hated by large parts of the population for dozens of imagined or real sins.

This, alas, is also part of the problem. There's a real movement in this country dedicated to making sure a large part of the population doesn't get a quality education. Why?
posted by eriko at 11:40 AM on April 23, 2006


What a disgrace that someone so illiterate could be a teacher.

It absolutely is a disgrace, delmoi.

This could very well be my own experience, but some of the dimmest people I've ever encountered have been elementary and secondary school teachers.

That's not to say there aren't some brilliant teachers out there, but they are all too rare in my estimation.
posted by quite unimportant at 11:48 AM on April 23, 2006


From the article:

"Although many of our students adopt tough facades and insist they are grown, they are still children: sensitive children who still crave guidance, encouraging words and positive reinforcement," wrote teacher Gina Miski. "Was the author present when students, having read the blog, dejectedly hung their heads with pained, angry tears stinging their eyes?"

Which of us cannot say the same about reading Metafilter?

/hangs head dejectedly...
posted by craniac at 11:52 AM on April 23, 2006


I'll also note that we live in a country where to teach in public school means living with a really lousy wage and benifit package

$55,000-$61,000 for 185 days of work a year? With a defined benefit plan?
posted by Kwantsar at 11:53 AM on April 23, 2006


Is it really reasonable to think that significant portions of a run-down impoverished school would read obscure blogs and be outraged? Isn't this story predicated on this assumption? And most importantly, isn't this a sign that there IS a way to communicate with these kids and by proxy, help to ameliorate the situations being faced by them?
posted by kigpig at 11:57 AM on April 23, 2006


Kwantsar, where did you pull those numbers from?
posted by jmhodges at 12:06 PM on April 23, 2006


Kwantsar : "$55,000-$61,000 for 185 days of work a year?"

jmhodges : "Kwantsar, where did you pull those numbers from?"

From the regnef blog:

"The average teacher salary here at Regnef is $61,000, whereas the rest of the state teachers average $55,500."
posted by Bugbread at 12:11 PM on April 23, 2006


quite unimportant: "This could very well be my own experience, but some of the dimmest people I've ever encountered have been elementary and secondary school teachers.

"That's not to say there aren't some brilliant teachers out there, but they are all too rare in my estimation."


I'm sure you would be a brilliant teacher. You therefore have part of the solution to the problem you highlight right in your hands. This isn't to say that you don't have real, valid reasons for not teaching. But you should examine why you're not and then reconsider the types of people who do teach and the reasons they are. You'll find we're a frustrating mixture of folks who couldn't get a better job and people who are willing to deal with the shit that comes with the profession in order to feel like we're making a little bit of a difference.


Also, I teach in an inner city school and write a blog about it. But I don't go and tell my coworkers about it. Yeesh.
posted by PhatLobley at 12:13 PM on April 23, 2006


Lots of stupidity here. First, the guy obviously just felt the need to rant, and hey, I don't begrudge him that. But then he leaked it to people deliberately, surely knowing (he can't be that stupid) that it would soon be well-known. This was definitely his doing. But he did not moderate his critique for the broader audience or with any sort of problem-solving approach in mind, he just wanted his rant heard. Now the school is overreacting.

It's interesting that Fenger is designated as a Technology Academy -- basically an intermediate type between a neighborhood school and a magnet school.

Now, Chicago's schools not so many years ago were a notorious disaster zone, but ever since Mayor Daley (the Younger) forced a political showdown and appointed a "CEO" who effected significant reforms, including breaking the ridiculous power of the unions (teachers, janitors, etc.) creating neighborhood school councils, and enabling the firing of principals and teachers in underperforming schools, things have improved dramatically in a lot of ways. I don't think that hopelessness is the right take on the situation, because there's been a lot of change for the better, but maybe that's hard to see when you're in one of these schools and confronted with the problems every day.

I'll note that race doesn't seem to be a factor. It's very possible that the teacher is black.
posted by dhartung at 12:18 PM on April 23, 2006


Kwanstar, I teach in Seattle. Currently, I substitute--and we won't get into what a shit deal that is.

When I land a permanent position, I'm going to start out at under $31k. That's after a bachelor's, a year of credential work that included working as an unpaid apprentice for five months (hell, I paid tuition while I did that), and a damn competitive job-searching process. I am expected to pursue further education at my own expense.

I take hours of work home daily. I deal with parents angry at me for giving their kids honest grades. I've been threatened by my students. Every time I go out to my car, I have to check it over and make sure it hasn't been keyed or otherwise vandalized.

Forbes magazine rated Seattle the #1 overpriced city in the nation last year. If they're paying $55k out in Illinois, kudos to them, but even at that rate you're making a serious rush to judgment with that statement you just made.

Most teachers accept all that and still take up the job, knowing full well that anyone who could meet those requirements could probably make much better money doing something else. They teach because it's what they want to do. In spite of that choice, the money offered by this profession is pathetic.

(Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go check my own blog to make sure I'm not leaving my ass hanging out in the breeze...)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:20 PM on April 23, 2006


While it was probably dumb to blog it by way of getting himself fired, it seems while everyone wants to be outraged by his comments, there is no one debating that what he is describing isnt't true.

When did telling the truth get to be a crime. Oh yeah....ancient Rome, when they blinded the cynics for seeing the truth.

I live in Chicago and know the neighborhood, and while I don't have first-hand knowledge of these incidents, nor the day-to-day at that school, none of what he says is exactly surprising.

The fact he is afraid to come back and teach is scary enough, the fact that he is there to begin with is admirable from my POV.

The fact he is disgusted and tired because of it should be expected. Probably some Americorps type who wanted to go make a difference, and found out no one else gives a shit, and everything he believed in is getting trumped by gang punks who need to "represent" by pulling fire alarms.

I took my kids out of public school because of the very things he descibes.

I salute him for being there at all, and if he gets fired and villified over the whole thing then let that serve as warning for people who give a damn.

And they wonder why we keep building more Supermax prisons.

I got five bucks that says at least 5 Fenger alums will be in one a decade from now.
posted by timsteil at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2006


Kwantsar - I understand your frustration.

However, otoh, what other profession exists where we expect the person to have a graduate degree, accept less than 40K to start, get up every day at 6 a.m. - and, to top it off - they have to take tests every few years to make sure they're still on the ball.

How many times to lawyers have to retake the bar exams to keep their credentials?

Teachers get shit on alot.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:53 PM on April 23, 2006


We don't expect teachers to have graduate degrees, Baby_Balrog. At least I don't*. Furthermore, the tests that teachers have to pass are far less difficult than the medical board, the bar exam or even securities licensing exams. Here's the NY State math exam (.pdf), for example. If teaching math is your job, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to score a 95% on a test like this. In your sleep.

I made $11/hour (in 2005 dollars) when I graduated college. And I didn't get to see much sunlight either. It's tough all over, kid.

And scaryblackdeath, if the job search is so competitive, why do we have so many incompetent teachers?

*I remember, back when I lived in middle America, the prevalence of teachers participating in correspondence or distance-learning Master's programs. They'd knock out a few credits and get a $7,500 bump in pay. I'm sure there are other businesses that automatically pay better salaries for more education, but there aren't many-- probably because it's just a terrible idea.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:07 PM on April 23, 2006


When I was in high school, my American Government teacher took off during class and left us to our own devices for like half an hour. My friend Russell and I took the opportunity to rifle through his desk, and found a short stack of papers, maybe just 5 pages stapled together, which turned out to be a journal he was keeping on his computer and had printed out.

It was full of the usual teacher ranting - low pay, bothersome kids and all that, all true - but in addition it detailed things like racial slurs other teachers had used, specific instances of failure or sabotage by the principal, and indications of true dysfunction and unrest at the school.

Russell and I had the presence of mind (and disregard for the teacher's privacy) to sneak into the office with it and make copies (itself a task since students weren't allowed) and replace the original. Our plan was to send it to the Seattle Times and let them make something of it, but Russell has it still as far as I know and in all likelihood almost the entire staff at my high school has turned over by now. Anyway, the point is that I doubt this is an isolated incident - or rather, it is, but only in that it is public.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:10 PM on April 23, 2006


I feel the need to add my two cents here.

When I was freshly out of university I was a security guard who worked in schools (checking them at nights and weekends for problems) - I had a four year degree but it took a while for me to settle into a career type job. I saw how teachers often operated when they figured they were safe from prying eyes. I've also taught a few college extension courses and worked in an admin support role for a couple of colleges and Universities.

The high school system is quite badly broken, and I live in Canada where it seems to be in better shape than the USA.
There are a few problems here. Reading this blog points out a few of them.

First, the drugs problems etc that go on in the schools are usually ignored by teachers, even when drug evidence is screaming them in face. I know this is not their job, but turning one's head suggests a lack of worldly experience to a student, a sign of weakness. I don't support the war on drugs, but if I had been charged with putting a stop to it - I am sure I would have known a few good places to start. If the schools are anti-drug, they should walk the walk when they talk the talk. When I was in school security, I would enter the places a few times a week for a few minutes and I can recall a few places I would have directed a drug investigation just based on what was lying around. A teacher with more time and familarity with the school should know what is going on.

I also somewhat suspect the guy writing this blog was quite badly out of his element both culturally and professionally. If your field of study was law, computer programming, accounting etc - chances are very good you started as some kind of junior lawyer, accountant or analyst. In these professions it is likely a fresh graduate does a lot of grunt work, learns a lot about corporate culture, is outranked by virtually everyone in the organization, and are forced to keep their noses out of any high priority project. This sucks, but it teaches one to handle pressure, do the job, and when you get your first promotion you generally do less work and get more money - or wash out and do something else. When you are a teacher you are a teacher. A lot of teachers I came across had deluded themselves into thinking they were great scholars, I guess because they worked with books all day or had a captive audience. Most of them just have an education degree - they know a little more than their students and some education psychology type of stuff which may or may not work in the field. When you meet computer programmers serving coffee at starbucks, it is because they thought the corporate world was like school. When this happens to a teacher in the classroom, the students lose respect and the product (education) suffers. I can remember only a few times in my entire academic career when someone seemed to be observing the teacher, and I met quite a number of teachers I suspect had developed some fairly serious social problems (especially with anger or just shattered nerves -which since I was a lowly security officer they had no reason to conceal, and nobody ever believes the kids) as a result of the problems they encountered on the job. So I am advocating better educated, better trained, more closely supervised teachers. In today's world, a lot of secretaries have four year degrees - and I know a lot of the teachers I encountered as a security guard really needed to get off their high horses.

Last let's give the teachers a break. School age children are savages, this what Lord of the Flies is about. Most students are average, some are great, and some are stupid. I've taught the classes where you have a guy who usually shows up drunk and brings down the level of the class to one that can't understand a puppet show. It should be easier to get rid of the problems... They need the ability to enter good vocational programs, or if they insist that academics are for them they should be encouraged to take correspondence classes and there needs to be checks and balances in the system to encourage this transition. This sound cruel but reflects a more realistic view of the situation. The school system also seems to implant the notion that labour, or trades are a bad thing when society needs people to do these jobs. Personally I sometimes think I would be happier and making more money in a skilled trade.

I've also lived in countries with school uniforms, it actually gives a sense of pride and unity in the school and partially ends the fashion shows, and clique building - and I think this would benefit both students and teachers.

I don't think I am really saying anything Earth-shattering here, or something that would be terribly expensive to implement.
posted by Deep Dish at 1:26 PM on April 23, 2006


We don't expect teachers to have graduate degrees, Baby_Balrog.

This is on a state-by-state basis. NY State requires everybody to have a "relevant" MA within five years of initial certification. (At one point, it was three years, but the board quickly went back to five.) I run my department's MA program, and it's nearly all secondary school teachers, nearly all the time.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:32 PM on April 23, 2006


Well, since it's not the original blog, it is possible that whoever reposted the entries neglected to add paragraphs.

Yeah, it very much looks like that, if you see there's bits where there's no space between words, that's where the paragraph was, either he didn't have the blogger option enabled to automatically create breaks and paragraphs, or someone copied the text from a browser that, um, doesn't keep the formatting of copied text...

Oh boy, my halls are filled with fury! Finally, the peeps of Regnef are mad about something! Good for them!First of all, to all those leaving me messages of support: thank you. Now I know there are some people who care about what goes on inside of me!Secondly...
=
Oh boy, my halls are filled with fury! Finally, the peeps of Regnef are mad about something! Good for them!

First of all, to all those leaving me messages of support: thank you. Now I know there are some people who care about what goes on inside of me!

Secondly...


SCREAMING CAPITALS also appear to be mostly from the letters and comments he's quoting in the top post.

/pedant mode
posted by funambulist at 1:40 PM on April 23, 2006


Kwantsar, I appreciate that you are offering up your point-of-view in an intelligent manner and are managing to keep snark to a minimum, but come on. Do you know any teachers?

I live in the state of Oregon. My mother is, currently, attempting to get her Masters right now so she can become a teacher, which (at the age of 54) is her dream. Apart from working currently as an instructional assistant at my hometown's middle school and making a low wage, she has to do x amount of hours student teaching (which is unpaid and mandatory) while still attending/paying for school. Naturally, this means a large amount of loans have been taken out and we are, effectively, broke.

That aside, for some more **anecdotal evidence**, my brother's girlfriend is an English teacher at a middle school in Santa Clara, California. Though she wanted to stay in Oregon and find work, her hometown of Santa Clara was the only place where she could find a job. She couldn't find ANY WORK in Oregon, and, as a result of being up to her eyeballs in debt from paying for her education (she received her masters at Lewis and Clark, an expensive private school), she had to take the job.

It's upsetting to me to see the way a lot of you talk about teachers, and I wonder then why, if it's such a sweet deal, don't more of you opt for the profession? Of course, therein lies the problem. The majority of us can talk about the poor job teachers do but when push comes to shove, most of us are going to do something far less selfless with our lives.
posted by nonmerci at 1:55 PM on April 23, 2006


nonmerci: amen.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:10 PM on April 23, 2006


Teaching is an ideal profession for someone who is relatively unambitious about his career (it's a terminal job, to many), someone who values leisure time more than he values the extra cash he could make if he worked more (Come up with all the yeah, buts you'd like, teachers more or less still get summers off), and someone who can stomach the fact that he's twice as good as the guy who is next door, but makes less money.

None of those people are me. But for people who fit 1 and 2, it is a sweet deal. Number 3 is a big problem, IMO, but (I don't know this for sure) it appears to be an artifact of the teacher's unions.

I agree with you that the student-teacher program is a fucking racket. As far as your brother's girlfriend, well, I don't doubt that she's a wonderful person, but she's getting what she deserves. She unnecessarily paid a premium for something that she could have bought for far less money. Now, if the program enriched her in a nonfinancial sense, good for her, but then she really has no right to complain. I wish I had $60,000 and two years of my life to spend on being enriched.

What I still can't understand is why your brother's GF and scaryblackdeath are having such a tough time finding jobs. If teachers are paid so poorly, how come no one can find a job as a teacher? Quite a contradiction, don't you think?
posted by Kwantsar at 2:12 PM on April 23, 2006


First, the drugs problems etc that go on in the schools are usually ignored by teachers, even when drug evidence is screaming them in face.

My government class was taught in another teacher's "room". The teacher who "owned the room" was a young pregnant woman, and she would sit and do her work in the classroom during our class.

One day she politely got up in front of the class and requested that whoever was smoking the refer before class stop doing it, because she was pregnant and the smell really bothered her.

Anyway that person never stopped smoking and the teacher just started leaving the room before class.
posted by delmoi at 2:16 PM on April 23, 2006


If teachers are paid so poorly, how come no one can find a job as a teacher? Quite a contradiction, don't you think?

I don't get it. What's the contradiction?
posted by aramaic at 2:21 PM on April 23, 2006


What I still can't understand is why your brother's GF and scaryblackdeath are having such a tough time finding jobs. If teachers are paid so poorly, how come no one can find a job as a teacher? Quite a contradiction, don't you think?

Er no, if the supply of teachers is high, the prices will be lower, and that also means that it would be harder for teachers to find jobs (higher unemployment)

Anyway, digging through www.bls.gov, it seems like the average wage for "Elementary and Secondary Schools (611100)" is $49,020

Fyi.
posted by delmoi at 2:24 PM on April 23, 2006


Personally, I would enjoy teaching but I wouldn't want to teach in a high school, there are just too many restrictions on the interactions between students and teachers. I mean I would be fired for cracking a joke about getting stoned or "harmless" flirting with a girl or whatever. Not my idea of fun. I'm also very greedy and want to be rich. Teaching isn't a path to that.

I might like to be a college professor, though.
posted by delmoi at 2:27 PM on April 23, 2006


Uh, Kwantsar, now your ignorance about the teaching profession, the sorts of people who become teachers and the GAHONES involved in actually deciding to be a teacher and following through is showing itself.

Teaching is a profession for someone who values EDUCATION, Kwantsar. Not someone who is "unambitious" and lazy, but for someone who is willing to live a more difficult existence in the name of youth.

You see, Kwantsar, some teachers (the good ones, the ones that have the right intention or those special teachers who are both--I'm sure we've all had at least one in our lives) actually care about the existing state of the world, the discontent of our nation's youth and IMPROVING THESE THINGS.

People put themselves through medical school and law school because they know that, in the end, they will make enough money to pay off their debts and then some. Sure, it's tough getting through it but there's promise at the end of the journey, there's dollar signs and the thought of retiring on an island somewhere, safe and secure.

Teachers do not have this luxury. They willingly put themselves through debt and deliberation to teach YOUR CHILDREN something meaningful, to give them hope, to show them how the world works and incite some creativity. Ideally, all teachers would achieve this, but until teaching either appeals to more people or human beings in general stop being so goddamned selfish this will never happen.

Oh, and lastly, I'd just like to point out that anyone who thinks getting the summer off is some kind of awesome non-stop party or makes up for the hell a teacher experiences during any given school year, hahaha! Teaching is a never-ending profession.
posted by nonmerci at 2:30 PM on April 23, 2006


I could have phrased my question better. Try this: Why is the supply of teachers high if the pay is so crappy? or Why is there a surplus of people who want to do a job with such low pay?
posted by Kwantsar at 2:32 PM on April 23, 2006


Kwantsar, I think your problem lies not in the profession of teaching but rather the sorts of people you assume take it up.

I wonder if your cynicism has a personal basis?
posted by nonmerci at 2:37 PM on April 23, 2006


If teachers are paid so poorly, how come no one can find a job as a teacher? Quite a contradiction, don't you think?

Stipulation: teachers are paid poorly.
How many new teaching job are there per year? Each year, how many total potential teachers are looking for teaching jobs? Given our stipulation, we know that everyone looking for those jobs is willing to accept the poor pay. Being willing to accept poor pay isn't a contradiction in itself, though it might be a sign of being idealistic, a chump, someone without much of a chance of getting another kind of job, or any number of other factors. How are the candidates evaluated?

You know who doesn't exactly rake it in? An assistant professor of, say, English literature. (The average salary of a professor of English at a 4-year college was $55,765 in 2004–05—note that that doesn't distinguish between assistant, associate, and full professorships.) You'd have to be off your rocker, though, to suggest that getting a job as one is easy. Where's the contradiction? (Reasons for this do not include: it's so easy being a professor that everyone wants to be one!)
posted by kenko at 2:38 PM on April 23, 2006


*I remember, back when I lived in middle America, the prevalence of teachers participating in correspondence or distance-learning Master's programs. They'd knock out a few credits and get a $7,500 bump in pay. I'm sure there are other businesses that automatically pay better salaries for more education, but there aren't many-- probably because it's just a terrible idea.

Actually, doesn't most of the tech world do this? Or, (sometimes and) they pay for the schooling along the way. Usually it's not credit wise, but the kids I was going to college with had various jobs such as at IBM where it was a $1/hr per course for a co-op. I experienced the same at my job when I started as a co-op. And those coming in with Masters degrees get paid more for the same positions because it's assumed they are more competant in the field. PhDs sometimes can hurt the chances of getting hired, but only because the company doesn't want to pay the employee that much more. And if you're taking courses, come review time, this is at least taken into consideration for raises and promotions if not a blanket policy. Are other fields not like this?
posted by kigpig at 2:40 PM on April 23, 2006


re: "the drugs problems etc. that go on in the schools are usually ignored by teachers", without getting into the specific debate and context and etc., what about the parents? where are they in this picture? isn't it their responsibility first and foremost?
posted by funambulist at 2:42 PM on April 23, 2006


As much as I hate to say it, I think that part of the solution has to be a way to give problem kids the boot. Maybe trade/vocational schools would be a good place for them. I just remember being in a remedial math class back in high school, and some of those kids in my class were ANIMALS. Furthermore, the teacher couldn't do a thing about it, except occasionally send one to the principal's office, like that ever did any good. We all had to suffer because of the poorly behaved kids, and there wasn't anything to be done about it.

Kids should be given an education, but they should also be taught the education is a privelage.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:45 PM on April 23, 2006


What I still can't understand is why your brother's GF and scaryblackdeath are having such a tough time finding jobs. If teachers are paid so poorly, how come no one can find a job as a teacher? Quite a contradiction, don't you think?

It's largely a matter of state budgets. We don't have enough money to hire all the teachers we need--let alone to build enough schools. Both the school at which I'm a long-term sub now and the school where I did my apprenticeship (which was in California) would love to hire me full-time; they don't have the money in the budget, despite a clear need for someone to fill the position.

Unions screw up the cash flow (and yet, sadly, they're still a necessary evil). So do politicians. I haven't seen the politician yet who provided a "fix" for education that wasn't designed entirely for sound-bites. A politician, left or right, is concerned about winning elections, and generally could give a shit if things actually get better.

Additionally, it depends on the field. Special Education teachers are seriously in demand, while Social Studies (my field) is something that a lot of districts feel is a low enough priority that they can cut a position here and there and so we can have 30-35 kids in every class.

A good class size is 20 kids; student performance starts to drop dramatically with the addition of 5 kids per class. Every student deserves some individual attention, but when your class is 25-30 students (if you're lucky) and it lasts 55 minutes, you have less than two minutes per student.

How do you define an "incompetent" teacher, anyway? I have one class with only 21 students (a lucky break), but repeatedly I've come to the due date of a major assignment and had only TWO students turn it in. They all understood the requirements. They all understood the due dates. So, gosh, it MUST be me, right?

Please, Kwanstar, tell me what I've been doing wrong. Tell me exactly how I'm incompetent. I'd sincerely love to know. It'd be much easier if the problem was with me, rather than with my 19 non-performing students. It'd be great if I could just change my behavior; it's a hell of a lot easier than changing theirs.

As for the time off? Most teachers I know would be perfectly happy to work year-round, since you wouldn't have to deal with the September sluggishness of kids who've had two & a half months to forget everything they learned in the previous year.

It sounds to me like you're one of the folks who was scarred for life by your high school experience, and would rather blame everyone else than yourself. It's too bad. Chances are you don't remember what a snot you were in high school. Most folks don't.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:53 PM on April 23, 2006


nonmerci : "the GAHONES"

Gahones? You mean cojones?

funambulist : "re: 'the drugs problems etc. that go on in the schools are usually ignored by teachers', without getting into the specific debate and context and etc., what about the parents? where are they in this picture? isn't it their responsibility first and foremost?"

How so? I'm thinking back to my high school. There was a kid well known as a dealer. A teacher could maybe stop him dealing (and maybe not), but how would my parents know about him? How would my parents stop him dealing? And how would this be their responsibility first and foremost?
posted by Bugbread at 2:55 PM on April 23, 2006


I think you're on to something with your last statement, Afroblanco, but I don't know if removing problem kids is the most effective way to teach children that education is a priviledge. It is, however, a question worth asking--what would teach this?

It seems like if a child doesn't value their education you will be hard-pressed to make them value it. The best angle that I can ascertain would be to, as a teacher, help your students discover what it is they are passionate about, and foster growth in those areas. Passion and learning go hand-in-hand, from my own experience.
posted by nonmerci at 2:56 PM on April 23, 2006


Yes, I mean cojones.

Any point other than the desire to correct?
posted by nonmerci at 2:58 PM on April 23, 2006


Derail:

It contains the augmentative suffix -ón (which implies largeness), and derives from Vulgar Latin coleonem, the accusative form of coleo "testicle", an augmentative form of cōleus (variants: cūleus and culleus), which meant "bag", particularly "leather bag for holding liquids".

Awesome!

posted by nonmerci at 3:00 PM on April 23, 2006


No, no point. Just didn't know if you meant cojones or if it was some other word/expression that I was unaware of.
posted by Bugbread at 3:01 PM on April 23, 2006


Oh, come on. You ask "why, if it's such a sweet deal, don't more of you opt for the profession?"

And I tell you for whom teaching is really a sweet deal, and you tell me that I'm ignorant? I'm not ignorant, I know plenty of teachers, I know what cojones (but not gahones) are, and I don't pretend that people have pure motives.

You see, nonmerci, if teachers get intrinsic (nonfinancial) benefits from teaching, then the total benefit that they derive from thier jobs is greater than the amount reflected on their paycheck. They are therefore not undercompensated.

I'm sorry if you think that my use of ambitious was loaded, but it wasn't intended to be that way. Many people who start out in their careers dream of being promoted or gaining the capital and/or knowledge required to do their own thing. Many teachers, on the other hand, will be happy being teachers for life. Their daily duties will remain largely unchanged for the rest of their professional lives. Whether they are exceptional or atrocious, they will have good job security, and they will earn little in the way of merit pay.

kigpig-- My professional experience contradicts yours. Analysts, bankers, traders, salesmen, et cetera, are paid for what they produce. I understand that the software business has a similar dynamic. No one cares where you went to school, or how long (maybe they do, at first, because it can be a signalling mechanism, but that effect washes away quickly)-- all they care about is the quality of the work.

kenko-- just because it's difficult to be an English professor doesn't mean that English professors are underpaid. It simply looks like the demand for English profs is dwarfed by the supply.Accounting profs make nearly twice the figure you cite, because that's what the market will bear. Part of the reason for this, perhaps, is that people who are qualified to be accounting professors have a host of other options.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:03 PM on April 23, 2006


I took my kids out of public school because of the very things he descibes.

Which is, of course, one of the biggest reason public schools are failing. The people with the resources to do so pull thier kids out. At this point, they have no reason to support public school. Thus, they fight taxes for schools, because it won't help thier kids.

This makes schools worse. Now, more parents decide that enough is enough, and manage to scrape up the money to get thier kids now. Now, they don't want to pay for public school either.

In the end, the only kids there are the one who've comitted the horrible crime of being born to parents who can't or won't put them into private schooling.

This is a disaster. There's a simple fix, and it will never, ever happpen. Simply outlaw private schools. If everyone has to put thier kids into public schools -- then public schooling will be an important priority of the nation.

But our nation prefers to make sure a huge portion of the population is uncompetitive in the marketplace. This makes thier kids better off, since all those public school kids won't have the education they do.
posted by eriko at 3:06 PM on April 23, 2006


nonmerci - you're right, teaching kids that education is a privilage really is the central challenge.

I think it's safe to say that the current methods of discipline (suspension, detentions, principals office) don't work. Even worse, I would say that they often wind up validating poor behavior, in that the student earns a "bad boy" reputation, which is not unattractive to kids of a certain age.

Suspension, in particular, is something that I never got. So you're going to take the kid out of class so that they fall even more behind? What happens when that kid comes back to class? Even if they want to learn, they'll be so far behind that they're likely to become discouraged and go back to their old ways.

I think that trade/vocational schools are a good place to start for these kids. A lot of them are just boys who are all hopped up on the insane amount of testosterone pumping through their veins. I think that a hands-on education in something like plumbing, electricity, or auto mechanics would be an excellent option for them. Furthermore, it would give them skills to earn a good living, and show them that there are options outside of drug dealing and McDonalds.

The public school system in America is far too geared toward preparing students for office jobs, which really aren't for everybody anyway.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:13 PM on April 23, 2006


How so? I'm thinking back to my high school. There was a kid well known as a dealer. A teacher could maybe stop him dealing (and maybe not), but how would my parents know about him?

When I first posted this, I didn't mean to imply the teacher should play cop - but if the schools are anti-drug than the teachers should enforce this stance by tipping off the cops, etc or at least not sitting in blissful ignorance. The teachers are the dispensers of school policy.

The students are not in a position to tip off these people, nobody believes kids and they stand to suffer much more greatly from street justice. Most people know who the school drug connections are...
posted by Deep Dish at 3:14 PM on April 23, 2006


There was a kid well known as a dealer. A teacher could maybe stop him dealing (and maybe not), but how would my parents know about him?

Uh? How would his parents not know about his drug dealing? How would it not be their responsibility first and foremost?

That's what I had in mind, you know, parents taking at least a little responsibility for their own kids instead of blaming everything on the teachers/videogames/tv/ozzy osbourne/pete doherty/whatever.
posted by funambulist at 3:16 PM on April 23, 2006


I have difficulty following your logic, Kwantsar.

Most people do not have pure motives, sure, but I'd sure as hell bet that a teacher struggling to make ends meet in order to do something they feel is, in principle, good/moral/meaningful has purer motives than an affluent surgeon who enjoys the finest things in life. I am not making any judgment on the morality or righteousness of the surgeon, but merely comparing their lifestyles (vastly different, I'm sure any of us would agree).

It's impossible to know any one person's intentions with their career, and it's equally impossible to make generalizations about an entire group of people in a given field.

I guess this is what I'm trying to say, which is becoming increasingly muddled, I think:

The person that takes the job that doesn't pay well but is, by its very nature, noble will likely have a purer motive than the person who takes a job with a guaranteed six-figure salary and will be 'set for life'. You appear to be saying that it is, in fact, more noble to take the six-figure salary, and therein lies our problem: we disagree on a fundamental level. I am of the opinion that, while financial security is lovely and I would welcome it at this time in my life or any, it will not make me feel happy or fulfilled, and I will not feel like I am making a difference. I do not expect everyone to feel this way, nor do I expect everyone to agree with me.

Regardless, my feelings about the teaching profession stem from this belief, and anyone who chooses teaching over a more lucrative profession will earn my respect.
posted by nonmerci at 3:16 PM on April 23, 2006


if the schools are anti-drug than the teachers should enforce this stance by tipping off the cops

Before getting to that rather drastic stage, again, where are the parents in this scenario? Shouldn't they be contacted first if their kids cause problems in school? I'm not saying teachers shouldn't do anything, I just find it a bit funny that the people legally responsible for their offspring are not taken into account.
posted by funambulist at 3:20 PM on April 23, 2006


Afroblanco--I'd agree with you that suspension is generally just silly. There are a few instances in which it can be worthwhile; if there's a fight on campus, getting rid of both kids for a bit really can help ease tensions, and that's more important than the need to punish them. (The knee-jerk response of suspending both kids, when often one really was just defending himself, sucks ass, but I don't know how one fixes that.)

The traditional punishments have usually worked for me. This year, though, I have one particular class (I'm in a long-term assignment) that has no fear of any of it. When I pull one of those consequences, they bitch, they moan, they try to talk their way out of it... but ultimately it does nothing to correct the behavior, and I see that. I'm not the only teacher running into that problem with this same set of students, either. We're all trying to figure out what WILL work.

I'd certainly agree with you that technical school is a viable endeavor. There is one in my district, and it's apparently been very successful... but we don't have the money to expand it to everyone who would probably do well in it.

Still, we do need our high schools to do a lot of the teaching that one might think is just geared toward office jobs. Blue-collar and technical or not, we still want someone to be able to express him/herself effectively in writing, to understand the basics of science, to think critically, to know where his/her country came from and not vote like an idiot, right?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:24 PM on April 23, 2006


but they should also be taught the education is a privelage

the most effective way to teach children that education is a priviledge

the best parts of the whole thread.
posted by Hat Maui at 3:27 PM on April 23, 2006


Blue-collar and technical or not, we still want someone to be able to express him/herself effectively in writing, to understand the basics of science, to think critically, to know where his/her country came from and not vote like an idiot, right?

Agreed. However, in some cases, this isn't feasible, and I'd be willing to settle for teaching them an honest trade and preventing them from messing up everyone else's education.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:33 PM on April 23, 2006


And scaryblackdeath and nonmerci, I'm pretty sure that I was a snot in high school. I corrected my teachers all of the time, I gave them shit for displaying Jesus posters in their (public school) classrooms, and I fought their petty tyrannies at every opportunity. Strangely, when I got to college (and graduate school), I had no problems whatsoever with 95% of my teachers. Maybe I'm lucky, sure, but in my opinion the competence level (subject-matter expertise and didactic skill) was dramatically, dramatically different. I'm certainly not scarred.

Whether my experience in public schools has much to do with my cynicism, I don't know. But until TPTB (and every time you pay your union dues, you are a part of the problem) find a way to punish/fire bad teachers, I'll continue to be cynical. A broken incentive system and near-guaranteed lifetime employment are not a recipe for excellence, and the fact that 5% of the people who show up to teach are good at their jobs and give a damn isn't enough to make up for the nitwits and the read-a-newspaper-while-you-show-the-kids-a-movie clan that operate the public schools.

anyone who chooses teaching over a more lucrative profession will earn my respect.

Even if they fucking suck at their job? One of the dirty little secrets of most large colleges is that the dumbest people on campus are education majors. They needn't get past organic chemistry or differential equations (or even Corporate Finance, for that matter) to get their degrees.

Let me try to make my position clearer: Almost any dumbass can get through college and get a teaching certificate. The system, as it currently exists, does nothing to weed out the dumbasses. While a few educators are bright, motivated people who could thrive in industry, the majority are lazy fucks and petty tyrants who have a job for life, and suffer no repurcussions for their incompetence.

Hat Maui-- you're a dick, but I love you.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:34 PM on April 23, 2006


Before getting to that rather drastic stage, again, where are the parents in this scenario? Shouldn't they be contacted first if their kids cause problems in school? I'm not saying teachers shouldn't do anything, I just find it a bit funny that the people legally responsible for their offspring are not taken into account.

Apples usually don't fall far from the tree, and I don't really have any problem with the cops enforcing existing laws.

I am not sure why we pamper kids so much, and socialize them into accepting that life cares about their feelings and that they can get breaks when they make mistakes - then we toss them into the real world where it is mostly dog eat dog. We get rid of school uniforms so kids can "express themselves" then when they are done school they go to a workplace with a uniform or a dress code. What is the point?
posted by Deep Dish at 3:37 PM on April 23, 2006


funambulist : "How would his parents not know about his drug dealing? How would it not be their responsibility first and foremost?

That's what I had in mind"


Ah, sorry, misread you there.

True, his parents would be primarily responsible. However, given the posit that his parents weren't fulfilling their obligation to stop him, would it not make sense for the teachers to do so? (Deepdish: when I refer to the teachers stopping drug dealing, I don't mean directly, but, as you say, telling the police, etc.)

So, yes, it would be the parents' responsibility, first and foremost. But if the parents don't do what they should do, then it seems like the school should be involved. I'm not one of those folks who say that the school should be involved in everything that students do, inside or out, or that they should know every single thing that every single student does. That's silly, and getting angry at a school for not knowing that one of their students was doing X or Y is just typical looking-for-someone-to-blame. However, if the school is aware of behaviour like this, it seems like the school should be involved, just as I would assume my employer would get involved if it knew an employee was selling cocaine in the employee break room.

nonmerci : "You appear to be saying that it is, in fact, more noble to take the six-figure salary"

I'm not reading Kwantsar as saying that, which may be why the anger at him seems a little over the top to me.

Hat Maui : "the best parts of the whole thread."

I'm just privilgaed to read the thread in the first place.
posted by Bugbread at 3:41 PM on April 23, 2006


I agree that college professors have, as a general rule, more to offer a student than most high school teachers, but I think that says more about the state of public education than the individuals themselves.

Um, Kwantsar, you weren't the only one. Most free-thinking, intelligent students encounter opposition from their peers/teachers, but it does seem like you never DID have that handful of teachers that made it worthwhile. And that sucks, and obviously something needs to change.

And I guess I should rephrase my statement--if someone fucking sucks at teaching and, more importantly, doesn't give a fuck (which definitely occurs, I'm not saying it doesn't) then I won't respect them. But, once again, you missed my point.

Lastly, I agree partially with your last statement, but it seems to me that your problem isn't with teachers but the school system in general/people who suck.
posted by nonmerci at 3:42 PM on April 23, 2006


Hat Maui-- you're a dick, but I love you.

huh. considering the source, i'm flattered by clause one, horrified by clause two.

back on topic: Kwantsar writes that "the majority are lazy fucks and petty tyrants who have a job for life, and suffer no repurcussions" (sic) "for their incompetence."

this is some serious hostility toward the teaching profession. i must ask how you'd be in a position to know this? test scores? your own necessarily tiny sliver of personal experience? how are you arriving at this conclusion? more importantly, how is it that you feel justified in presenting it as incontrovertible fact?
posted by Hat Maui at 3:59 PM on April 23, 2006


Nonmerci: So you're saying that all educators are selfless idealists who go into it for the love of the profession, while all doctors are money-grubbing scum who go into it purely for the fat paycheck?
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:59 PM on April 23, 2006


Deep Dish: I am not sure why we pamper kids so much, and socialize them into accepting that life cares about their feelings and that they can get breaks when they make mistakes - then we toss them into the real world where it is mostly dog eat dog. We get rid of school uniforms so kids can "express themselves" then when they are done school they go to a workplace with a uniform or a dress code. What is the point?

Well, you can't come down on kids as hard as adults, because a lot of kids are just flat out mental due to hormones and it really isn't their fault. Hell, I was completely emotionally unstable until about 20. As for uniforms, not too many adults have to wear them (just military and some low-end jobs, mostly.) Schools generally have dress codes already and there's not much point in making them more restrictive. Certainly college, the place you hope they go after high school, doesn't have uniforms.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:10 PM on April 23, 2006


Folks, misreading eachother will not a good discussion make.

Kwantsar isn't saying that all teachers are lazy fucks after a secure paycheck and vacation time. However, he is saying that many (probably most) are.

Nonmerci is not saying all educators are selfless idealists who go into it for the love of the profession. However, he is saying that many (though probably not most) are.
posted by Bugbread at 4:15 PM on April 23, 2006


this is some serious hostility toward the teaching profession. i must ask how you'd be in a position to know this? test scores? your own necessarily tiny sliver of personal experience? how are you arriving at this conclusion? more importantly, how is it that you feel justified in presenting it as incontrovertible fact?

Well, my hostility is toward the practicioners, not the profession. It should be obvious that everyone can't really agree upon what constitutes a "lazy fuck" or a "petty tyrant," and even if we could agree on the definitions, it would probably be really hard to gather data and run a reliable study. Furthermore, my sliver of personal experience is probably about n=100.

Really, could anyone-- even someone who is atypically uncritical-- read my rant and pretend for a minute that it was a statement of incontrovertible fact?

I'm sure that you've never used induction to formulate a hyperbolic opinion that ultimately cannot be proven.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:24 PM on April 23, 2006


but they should also be taught the education is a privelage.

No, education is a right.

Only someone who has never suffered the deprivations of being denied a basic education would be so presumptuous - dare I say, classist - to claim that education is a privilege.

Metafilter: I'm sure that you've never used induction to formulate a hyperbolic opinion that ultimately cannot be proven.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:31 PM on April 23, 2006


Ok, so "privilege" is probably not the right word.

The only word that comes to mind is "treasure". I'd say "gift", but that once again brings to mind that it's something bestowed out of someone's munificence, not a right. So "treasure" is all I can think of. Anyone think of a better term?
posted by Bugbread at 4:38 PM on April 23, 2006


I think that the whole question of whether or not teachers are underachievers who got into teaching because there's a low barrier to entry is a red herring.

After a four year education degree (and possibly some grad school), I would argue that most teachers are intelligent and knowledgeable enough to do their jobs. How educated do you need to be in order to teach high school-level curriculum?

The problem is that these teachers, especially those in underprivileged areas, have students that they cannot handle. To me, this means that either they need better disciplinary methods, or that these kids are not in an environment where they can learn effectively.

As far as disciplinary methods go, I don't have much in the way of suggestions. The current methods obviously don't work. Involving the parents? This may work some of the time, but, I suspect, only in cases where kids just need a little extra guidance. Kids with serious discipline problems probably have serious problems at home, so the parents will probably be of very limited assistance. Calling the police on kids with drug problems? Gee, that's really going to help them out. Let's give them a criminal record. That will really make them care about their education. Also, thanks to our loving Republican congresspeople, they will be unable to obtain student loans in the case that they somehow manage to rise above their environment and seek a higher education.

I would argue that these kids are just not in an environment that works for them. American public schools place far more importance on "Sit Down, Shut up, and Obey" then they do on actual education. It has been shown in many studies that a lot of kids, most of them boys, simply cannot learn in this sort of environment. A more hands-on approach to learning works out far better for them. This is why trade/tech/vocational schools are often a good solution. Plus, in a trade/tech/vocational school, it's easy for them to see that they're learning something useful, and the question of "when the hell am I going to use all this crap" doesn't come up as much.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:41 PM on April 23, 2006


Also, on post - despite Baby_Balrog's assertion that education is a right (and his accusations of classism), I maintain that education is a privilege. Lots of people in this world don't have the opportunity to get an education. Thus, if you're one of the lucky few who do have that opportunity, you are privileged. I don't think that the "problem kids" see it this way, and are more likely to see school as "some crap that they have to do."

Maybe if they were exposed to what life is like for people who don't have the opportunity to get an education, they would be more likely to see it for the privilege that it really is.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:45 PM on April 23, 2006


Kwantsar is right. These are inconvenient truths that touchy-feely types don't want to hear.

All anecdotal experience from my wife, the 10+ year veteran teacher:

* Teachers are collosally underpaid.
* As a result, teachers are collosally unqualified.
* Public school admins are corrupt at worse and minimally competent at best. Remember, most admins started as teachers...
* The day-to-day experience of most teachers involves a hefty dose of politicking and defending of petty fiefdoms.
* Parents either don't care one whit, or take the exact opposite tack -- aggressive and adversarial to a fault.

It's a bad, bad situation that needs a thorough cleaning. But no one on the horizon has the political will to make it happen. Although we have considered running for school board...

But at the end of the day, American society ends up with education-as-bowling. You throw the +1 Ball of Education down the alley and hope it smacks into more kids than not.

Oh, and private schools? Heh. Keep in mind that private = no controlling authority. Private school teachers don't need to be certified by anyone. Keep that in mind when you sign those checks!
posted by frogan at 4:59 PM on April 23, 2006


However, he is saying that many (probably most) are.

bugbread, i think you're being fairer to Kwantsar than is warranted by the facts. he specifically said that "most" are lazy fucks with no qualifiers at all. so i'm not sure where you got the "probably" from -- it's not there.

I'm sure that you've never used induction to formulate a hyperbolic opinion that ultimately cannot be proven.

you're right about that. finally, something you're right about.

oh, and here's a statement of yours that i forgot to quibble with before: bright, motivated people who could thrive in industry.

now, you present that as if "industry" is the gold-standard metric for all endeavor. i would point out to you that "industry" encompasses all manner of failure and nincompoopery - idiots, imbeciles, laggards, layabouts, no-accounts, doofuses, boobs, blowhards, etc. all can and do thrive in "industry."

see TimeWarnerAOL, Enron, the entire automotive industry, the President's oil ventures, Hollywood, Microsoft, WorldCom, Clear Channel, Wal-Mart, etc. for examples.

the point being that industry is hardly exempt from incompetence simply by virtue of the profit motive.

here, i'll make my first-ever unprovable hyperbolic assertion i've induced from relevant data:

people that work in industry (read: for-profit business) are mostly greedy-yet-clueless lickspittles that do as they're told because they have corporate conformity bred into them like so many cattle.

so how's that sit with you?
posted by Hat Maui at 5:01 PM on April 23, 2006


I agree with your second point, Afroblanco. They should have to come face to face with a world sans education. I recommend South America. It helped me grow in many ways.

Though perhaps you should review your history before spouting off about how some kids don't recognize the privilege of being graciously given their education.

I can't continue this discussion as my BAC is rapidly rising and I want to finish this bottle of wine more than I want to argue about this.

But I do know this - if you were a school administrator, politician, cop, whatever - and you came to me and said, "Mr. Balrog, due to your kids blah-blah-blah, he no longer has the privilege of receiving an education like his peers," I would take your ass to court. Fast.

Thank God someone did already, all those years ago, in Topeka.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:04 PM on April 23, 2006


Afroblanco : "Calling the police on kids with drug problems? Gee, that's really going to help them out."

I may be misinterpreting the drug angle of this thread, but I was under the impression that it was directed at kids dealing, not kids using. True, calling the police on dealers will also result in dealers having criminal records, but I think there's a limit to which we can say "You can break the law, because punishing you may result in increased problems in the future", and dealing, for me (in the sense of proper dealing, that is, not just selling your friend a joint) crosses that line. Sure, avoiding police involvement is generally a good idea, but carte blanche is not.

Afroblanco : "despite Baby_Balrog's assertion that education is a right (and his accusations of classism), I maintain that education is a privilege. Lots of people in this world don't have the opportunity to get an education. Thus, if you're one of the lucky few who do have that opportunity, you are privileged."

It's really a question of semantics (and I don't say that derogatorily). Privilege is defined as: A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste. I think you're interpreting it in the "enjoyed by" sense, and Baby_Balrog in the "granted to" sense. A privilege in the "enjoyed by" sense is something which most people don't have, and one is fortunate to have. A privilege in the "granted to" sense is something which the government provides even though it doesn't have to, from it's own munificence.

So, basically, you're probably both right, because you're using different definitions. In that case, the word is best avoided just to avoid arguing about which interpretation of the expression is "more right".
posted by Bugbread at 5:09 PM on April 23, 2006


* Teachers are collosally underpaid.
* As a result, teachers are collosally unqualified.


dude... your syllogism fails for a variety of reasons, not least of which your misspelling of "colossally" in an argument about education.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:13 PM on April 23, 2006


the spelling shit is dickish and pedantic, i'll admit, but goddamnit it's hard to avoid when people are sounding off about education. i'll stop, though. sorry.
posted by Hat Maui at 5:19 PM on April 23, 2006


(hat maui, the same could be said about capitalization. sorry, couldn't resist.)
posted by Bugbread at 5:20 PM on April 23, 2006


Though perhaps you should review your history before spouting off about how some kids don't recognize the privilege of being graciously given their education.

Ah. So I'm not longer just a classist, I'm a racist, too! Yaaay!

Education is a privilege. Before Brown vs. the Board, the black children in poor areas were underprivileged. Brown vs. The Board stated that they should have the same privileges that the rest of American children have.

However, I agree with bugbread, we are largely arguing semantics.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:21 PM on April 23, 2006


Also, I don't mean to say that black children in poor areas magically stopped being underprivileged as a result of Brown vs. the Board. In fact, I think this whole thread (and the original post) is proof that this didn't happen.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:23 PM on April 23, 2006


I teach high school physics and am now in my eleventh year. I have a degree in engineering and know confidently that I could be doing many, many other things that would be more financially lucrative. I know that many people look at my schedule and my workload and think that I'm lazy and unmotivated and "taking it easy." Honestly, many days I come home frustrated, wondering why I drive a 10 year old truck to school so some snot nosed kid driving a bmw or lexus can take my AP class for college credit. The same kids who when they do well are hard-working achievers but when they do poorly are saddled with a lazy no-good teacher. The simple fact is that I enjoy teaching. I enjoy that process of making those little light bulbs go off. I enjoy watching the students working in the lab, discovering something new in the world. I enjoy it.

Yes- I wish they paid me more. I teach in a rural county where lower wages bring us the bottom of the barrell. A few hours away, in the wealthy suburbs of Baltimore or Philadelphia, higher wages attract better candidates. In this county however, the voters have decided that better paved roads for the tourists and lower property taxes are more important than education. That is their choice- they have made it and they will have to live with it. But it is also my choice to stay here- and I will live with that decision. It allows me to spend more time with my family because I don't have to commute. It allows me to become comfortable in a smaller community where people know me because I taught their kids.

Like the blogger in question, I too lament declining social values that strain our political and social systems. It is unfortunate that the approach he took to address his concerns seems to have been rooted in racial stereotypes and language of division and hate, rather than healing and hope.
posted by sciencejock at 5:55 PM on April 23, 2006


Afroblanco writes "Maybe if they were exposed to what life is like for people who don't have the opportunity to get an education, they would be more likely to see it for the privilege that it really is."



Being required to go to public school != having the opportunity to get a decent education. The focus of the blog- and certainly the ensuing discussion here- is on the suffering of teachers in underserved schools. Certainly to put the onus on the student to find value in an education whose value he/she has never been shown neglects the responsibility of the teacher in that area. And trust me, it's a shitty job, especially if you care. But we are ignoring the fact that the schools don't exist for the teachers. They were not created so that ed. majors would have places to work. They exist so that our children will be given the opportunity to learn skills that will enable them to earn success in our society. Kids in schools like Fenger are faced with dangerous hallways watched by lazy security guards, pay-check-collecting, union-dues-paying, unaccountable teachers, and administrators who work only on problems that will save their own jobs, not their students' futures. When they emerge from these schools (or drop out of them) without the skills they were supposed to have gained, it is the schools' fault. You can't blame a child for not learning in an environment that is not properly equipped to teach him.

Obviously there is no easy solution to the problem I'm describing. But the first step is to realize that for far too many children right here in the USA, the right of obtaining an excellent (hell, I'll settle for adequate) education is simply not being fulfilled. I believe that educational inequity is the problem behind many other injustices in the American status quo. But, then, it's kinda my pet issue right now. But don't fool yourself into thinking that pearls are being cast before swine across this country. Pearls are shamefully hard to come by, and the only swine are those who would keep them exclusively for themselves.

On Preview, after the site seemed to be down for a little while: You're right, it didn't happen after Brown. I'd encourage everybody to read some Jonathan Kozol to see how far we haven't come.
posted by PhatLobley at 5:58 PM on April 23, 2006



(read: for-profit business) are mostly greedy-yet-clueless lickspittles that do as they're told because they have corporate conformity bred into them like so many cattle.


True, but they are effective and efficent or they are soon out of business. Business was always cut-throat, globalization has made it more so. Education endures no such pressure. This is why I hope I get to teach college again, on a full time basis.
posted by Deep Dish at 6:16 PM on April 23, 2006


I see your point. Mostly what I was saying is that what they're getting is better then nothing, which is what a lot of the worlds' children get. However, "better then nothing" is not good enough.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:17 PM on April 23, 2006


hat maui, the same could be said about capitalization. sorry, couldn't resist

why don't i apply the "bugbread methodTM" here and analyze this statement in a rational, fair manner which totally belabors the obvious?

< bugbread>
On one hand, Hat Maui is merely pointing out the ironic humor inherent in repeated misspellings of "privilege" (and "repercussions" and "colossally") as people wax all educated-like about what teachers should do or not do. Which seems like a fair-enough, if overenunciated point.

Of course, if Hat Maui continues to make the same joke, it may reflect poorly on him as a pedant, despite the ripe context in which said pedantry occurs.

However, on the other hand, Hat Maui refuses to capitalize in his posts. That could be for any one of a variety of reasons: 1) He doesn't realize that the first word of every sentence in English is to be capitalized, as are proper names, which is a sort of meta-irony to his own supercilious fixation on correct spelling; or 2) He is aware of the proscription against not capitalizing (as well as the proscription against double-negatives;>) in English grammar but flouts it because he is a) too busy to waste time capitalizing, or b) doesn't capitalize as a convention of the informality of the online setting, or c) likes the understated way it looks on his screen, or d) has never really given much thought to it at all; or 3) His shift key is busted.

Whatever the reason behind his failure to capitalize, it tends to undercut his appeal to orthodoxy vis-a-vis spelling. But it's understandable how he could conclude that the two things (misspelling and not-capitalizing) are < /bugbread> COMPLETELY FUCKING DIFFERENT AND HAVE NO LOGICAL BASIS FOR COMPARISION.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:26 PM on April 23, 2006


True, but they are effective and efficent or they are soon out of business

really? my experience with the business world contradicts this. it's the same as any other field of endeavor, really -- there are inefficiencies everywhere. there are idiots in every company, in every profession, in every industry. many companies stay in business in spite of themselves. and think of how many get fat at the teat of government contracts (KBR Halliburton, anyone?) that, since they're no-bid, have no basis in the company's merits?

i mean, if what you say is true, how do you explain "Dilbert," smart guy?
posted by Hat Maui at 6:43 PM on April 23, 2006


COMPARISION

HAHAHAHA, it's spelled "comparison," smartypants!

oh, wait, that was my own comment.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:44 PM on April 23, 2006


I am talking about ideas regarding education, not claiming to be the most educated, so all snark relating to typos and adding an extra 'd' in privilege (I do not edit my posts nor proof-read in the heat of the moment, so sorry) are unwarranted. These are independent of content and should be treated as such.

Also, I am not a he. :)

And lastly, I think that the people who go into selfless professions are more noble than those who do not, yes. It doesn't mean I think all people who take self-serving professions are bad people or amoral, however, so if those of you who are putting words in my mouth could cease it would be most appreciated.
posted by nonmerci at 6:57 PM on April 23, 2006


Baby_Balrog:

I, too, meant 'privilege' in the philosophical sense--the sense that we are lucky we have public education at all and we must teach children to cherish this knowledge and garner a passion for it. It is a privilege in that sense, not in the 'let's take it away from you' sense.
posted by nonmerci at 6:59 PM on April 23, 2006


K: I'm sure that you've never used induction to formulate a hyperbolic opinion that ultimately cannot be proven.

HM: you're right about that. finally, something you're right about.

HM: there are inefficiencies everywhere. there are idiots in every company, in every profession, in every industry.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:44 PM on April 23, 2006


oh, snap!

you zinged that HM guy, Kwantsar. totally nailed him with the ol' "evidence of two logically consistent statements, side-by-side."

classic. straight out of "the paper chase."
posted by Hat Maui at 10:03 PM on April 23, 2006




I want all of you to take a good look at these people on the risers behind me. These people have been here up to five years and done absolutely nothing. These people are drug dealers and drug users. They have taken up space. They have disrupted this school. They have harassed your teachers. And they have intimidated you. Well, times are about to change. You will not be bothered in Joe Clark's school. These people are incorrigible. And since none of them could graduate anyway,


[turns to the troublemakers on stage]

you are all expurgated. You are dismissed! You are out of here, forever. I wish you well!
posted by Dreamghost at 11:25 PM on April 23, 2006


kwanstar: the majority are lazy fucks and petty tyrants who have a job for life, and suffer no repercussions for their incompetence.

While I recognize this is a deliberate overstatement for rhetorical effect, my experience in education does not support your conclusion.

There are some lazy fucks and petty tyrants. However, the majority of teachers I've worked with work insanely long days (including weekends - especially if they coach a team or advise a club) and do their utmost to create a decent atmosphere for education.

obviously, both of our sets of perceptions are anecdotal and based on our own experiences vis a vis teachers. I am sure that most of the teachers you currently have to deal on a regular basis are, in fact, lazy fucks and petty tyrants.

I do want to address the "Summers Off" thing. I don't really know any teachers who take the summer off. Most of the teachers I know teach summer school or find some other form of employment during the summer in the hopes of adding to their annual income. Furthermore, I (and I am not alone in this) spend a good deal of my evening times after my summer job prepping for the new semester. Summer is the time that I can, to the extent that summer work allows, catch up on current practices in my field, work on my scope and sequence and try and review my curriculum to make sure it is rigorous and accurate.

That all being said, Kwanstar, I am glad that you have such strong views about education and teachers. There are a whole lot of people out there who couldn't care less about it one way or the other. While I don't agree with you, I hope that, in your community, you have taken the time to try and help raise the hiring standards for teachers.

---

As far as the link goes, what a bitter person. He will be better of working somewhere else - and that school will be better off without him. Seems to me he had a lot of issues with his school but no drive to try and make it better.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:09 AM on April 24, 2006


Hat Maui : "why don't i apply the 'bugbread methodTM' here and analyze this statement in a rational, fair manner which totally belabors the obvious? "

Dude, it was just a joke.

But kudos for a spot-on imitation of me.
posted by Bugbread at 5:30 AM on April 24, 2006


I've got a couple of friend who are long-term teachers, who have recently retired after 30 years in the field. When they started asking us if we were going to put the little guy into public school, we asked their opinion.

Their thinking was as follows -

If the parents don't care about the education, then public school's the way to go.

If the parents really care about education, but can't afford private school, then by spending a great amount of effort they can make sure that their child gets a good education. That effort will have to be expended at both the home level with supplemental books and exercises, and in dealing with the school to make sure the child gets into the best classes with the best teachers available. Or in the cases where school choices were available, to make sure the children got into the best school possible.

Seeing as our state is ranked 49th, and the school we were zoned for was in the bottom third, they weren't too optimistic about that. They suggested we move to a better school area, if we weren't going to put the little guy in private school.

If we were going to put the little guy into private school, then they'd be glad to review all the info we could give them on the schools we were choosing to help figure out which would be best for him.

Their biggest problems in the last ten, fifteen years were the fact that the majority of the parents didn't care what or how their kids were doing, until they started flunking classes. They'd send home notes to the parents (which may or may not have gotten there) and they'd call and schedule parent-teacher conferences that ended up with the parents never showing. Classroom discipline was near non-existant, for a variety of reason ranging from parental disinterest to threats of parental lawsuits for daring to discipline the child and stifling their freedom of expression. Supplies at the classroom level were a constant battle, yet there was always money in the school system for a new administration building or expanding the administrative staff.

As they would say - without parental backup, there's not much that the schools can do that can't be undone at home. And far too many of the parents just didn't care to put the effort into making sure the kids got much of an education.

If the child was a discipline problem - there wasn't really anything they could do about it short of expulsion. In private schools, discipline problems can be dealt with in other fashions - the expectation by the parents is that you're there to learn, and they're paying good money to do so, so acting up is wasting that money.

Their opinion was that in private schools, the parents have much more of a stake in their kid's education - writing out the tuition checks tends to focus the parents on making sure the kid gets a good education.

So in the end, we decided on a three-fold approach. We found a good private school for the little guy that only cost three quarters of an arm and half a leg. We checked out the public schools in a five mile radius from that school, and picked the one that had the highest scores, and moved close to that to serve as a fallback school if things went sour. We've also been quite interactive with his teachers, following their suggestions and working with the little guy to make sure he gets as much good as possible from school.

It seems to be working. He's about to finish second grade, but he's doing math on a fourth grade level and reading on a fifth. He's interested in science, and wants to be a pilot someday.

Nothing the teacher can do in the classroom can't be undone in the home. And then you end up with a child that graduates, but is barely able to read and write and think. But what happens in the classroom can be reinforced by the parents - and the kid can get a good education.

If the teachers and parents both care, learning happens. If one or the other doesn't - then...
posted by JB71 at 6:55 AM on April 24, 2006


the drugs problems etc that go on in the schools are usually ignored by teachers, even when drug evidence is screaming them in face. [...] turning one's head suggests a lack of worldly experience - Deep Dish

DING!

I think you underestimate some people's ability to not see what is right in front of their nose. Many people (teachers parents etc) do not have any real world experience with drugs and don't know what to look for or... well, anything. That's why you regularly have parents and teachers panicked about whatever the latest supposed meanace to their children is. They'll believe anything you tell them - no matter how absurd - because they don't know better, and many of them turn off their brains when they're told their children are in danger. I'm a parent, too and I hope to avoid this sot of over-wrought unthinking hysterics, but I can't compeltely discount the possibility that my brain will melt and I'll turn stupid.

Uhh... sorry. Little rant there, brought on by conversations I had with other parents this weekend re: drugs.

My point? (I think I have one)

1) You assume that parents and teachers know and recognise drug use. Many of them do not.
2) You said what you would if you were charged with fighting drug use. But that's not what teachers are charged with. So perhaps those that do recognize it are scared, or don't think it's a problem, or whatever, and think "That's not my job. I didn't go into teaching to be a mini-cop". And then they leave it alone.
posted by raedyn at 11:37 AM on April 24, 2006


Teaching can quite easily form part of a career in education, it is not the be all and end all.

Indeed, I would not want anyone at local or national government level making descisions about education who had not been a teacher themselves.
posted by asok at 7:06 AM on April 26, 2006


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