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 Post subject: What would you do? Education question/dilema...
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 2:14 am 
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Ok, I will try to make this brief, but y'all know that's not one of my strong suits...so bear with me or just don't read this if you have no opinion about public education.

First a few background things about myself, if you don't already know them.

I have been a substitute teacher for 2 years now for the k-2nd public school in my town in MS. I take my job very seriously and do not consider myself a glorified babysitter in any form or fashion and do my utmost to make sure that the children experience the same or better learning environment when I am there as when their regular teacher is there. I am deeply emotionally invested in this school. My son is enrolled there (he's about to start 2nd grade) and out of the nearly 1000 children, you will be hard pressed to find one that I do not know and have not personally interacted with. I love each one of them in their own way...

I say all of this to give you a better idea of where I am coming from and where my outrage is coming from in this story I am about to relay. I also ask for your honest advice and opinion; whether you agree with me or not, please share (don't just attack, by the way, please use logic and, if possible, references to back up your ideas)...Thanks in advance for that.

This is a convoluted story, so I will try to keep it understandable the best I can.

First off, at my school, you are able to have a choice of what teacher your child gets each year. (You have a list, order them among your preferences and child is matched to best meet his needs, etc...great system). I was troubled last spring when trying to choose my son's 2nd grade teacher because I wasn't comfortable with the teaching styles and lassie-faire attitudes among many of the teachers in this grade. (To back-track for one minute; my school is a level three in the rating system of the FABULOUS NCLB act) Because of this ridiculous rating, the administrators feel the need to do everything under the sun to make that rating higher (preferably the 5)...So, more often than not, whether they want to or not, most teachers give in and spend the majority of each day teaching the kids so that they will pass these standardized math and reading tests...Eventually, after rigorously questioning anyone with personal experience with the best of the teachers I had in my head to choose from, I chose one particular teacher, we'll call her Ms. Rainy. Yeah, I get Ms. Rainy and am actually quite happy, pleased with her teaching style and kid philosophy, etc. Well, Tues a teacher from the school who has a daughter who is in my son's grade and who was going to also be in Ms. Rainy's class calls and says we no longer have Ms. Rainy; she's been promoted to "reading facilitator" (a fucking joke of a job, by the way). Well, obviously I am not pleased about this idea, especially considering the school hasn't contacted me, only a friend who heard it through the grape vine. So I call another teacher and she gives me the whole story. Essentially the Vice principal at the school (whom I LOVED) was promoted to central office and because of this there was an opening for VP, so the reading facilitator (I'll call her Ms. Tom) gets promoted to the VP job. Hence, this is why I lost my great teacher. Anyhow, if this were the worst of it I would probably figure a way to switch teachers (I don't want him to have a first year teacher again, we've had that before and it was a nightmare). But its not the worst of it.

Ms. Tom is a person that I have NO respect for in the slightest possible manner. (Also a side note, she hires the substitute teachers now.) Ms. Tom has personally told me, in no uncertain terms, that the children I teach reading to MUST pass all tests. And when I say this, I mean she expects for me to TELL the children the answers on the tests. And for those that even telling them the answers doesn't work, give them their tests back repeatedly until they at least make a passing grade. We had a huge showdown over this and I basically told her that I would NEVER, EVER cheat a child out of learning for the sake of giving the school a higher freaking ranking and that if I ever, ever heard of her encouraging a teacher to cheat MY child, I would make it my life's mission to make sure she lost her job. Yes, I am sure someone thinks this is stupid or going overboard, but this woman quite truly and honestly KNOWS that this reading program is a bunch of shit and DOESN"T teach the children much more than how to read words; they don't understand comprehension, they have no ability to use synonyms, that cannot paraphrase the stories into their own words and share them back; etc...its a horrible program. And for her to tell me that I "already have the lowest readers in 2nd grade, so they better not fall behind into Roots [this is the lowest level reading of 1st graders]", quite frankly she attempted to bully and intimidate me into doing as she wanted and I refused. Obviously, I have made an enemy for this and it doesn't hurt me for one second that that ladder climbing bitch doesn't like me. But, I am sick deep in my heart to know that she was promoted!!!!!!!!!! So she will now have even more power over these teachers to try and intimidate them into CHEATING on these test, especially the state tests. I am not the only one she's done these things to. I can nearly get each and every 1st and 2nd grade teacher to attest to these very same tactics, all in the name of getting a higher NCLB ranking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, so what would you do?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 3:47 am 
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lefty—
I assume there is no teachers' union you can turn to for help, so here goes:

1. Get any instructions from her in writing. Cheaters hate leaving a paper trail; create your own noting in detail discussions with dates and times.

2. Stay very active in PTA/PTO groups, they have a tremendous influence on local school politics. Finding like-minded parents that will go to bat for their children is your best bet.

3. Higher level administrators, district, county and state must be apprised of the situation. Enlisting the help of any elected official will only strengthen your cause.

4. File whatever form of grievance you're able to at as many levels as possible. Get your concerns on the record. Ladder climbers find missing rungs when their stack of complaints gets too high. Other teachers and parents need to add to this stack.

5. Good Luck and persevere; don't let the bastards win.

APL

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:00 am 
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What APL said, lefty...and one more thing.

Check to see if there is a Testing Coordinator in your school. That person is in charge of all standardized tests. He or she is responsible for how the tests are administered, and for making sure teachers and proctors are instructed in testing administration each and every year, regardless of years of experience. (I taught for 31 years in tested grades so I know what I'm talking about, at least as far as NC is concerned. Maybe MS is different, but it's something to check on). PROCTORS, lefty, are stationed in rooms where tests are being given for several reasons, but one of them is to make sure no cheating or "helping" is taking place. No test is supposed to ever be in the hands of the teachers without qualified supervision at any time prior to, during, or immediately after standardized testing.

Once you've gathered your evidence against these morons, contact your local school system's leaders first, then go to the state's public instruction offices. Contact the state school board. Hell, contact the state superintendent! WATCH, LEARN, and DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.

AND be prepared to lose your substitute position, most likely. I'm sorry to say. These people play nasty because, in man y cases, their salaries and bonuses and future promotions are tied to test scores. :evil:

You can start your research here: http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 12:13 pm 
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I figured you two would be here to offer me some advice. Thank you so much APL and Cat.

I, for all intents and purposes, have lost my sub position because I am certain that Ms. Tom will ax my name from the top of the list (because I am the most requested). I cannot imagine her ever making herself call my phone number. Anyhow, I guess I pretty much am not willing to be a part of this anymore, especially considering that Ms. Tom will now hold my job in her hands (subs are "at will" employees, with no benefits, by the way). I also know that the principal, Ms. Lib, is in cahoots with all of this because she has been present at meetings where Ms. Tom insisted that a first year teacher MUST make sure her children averaged a 70% (as a whole) on all tests, reading and standardized.

The children in 2nd grade are the only ones who have to take the state standardized tests and I have never been present in the room while one is given, so I can only speculate as to what the proctors are told and what they are not. But I can say that the proctors are not outsiders, they are other teachers; usually 1st grade teachers, because their classes can be left with the assistant teachers while the tests are going on. Same thing for 3rd graders, when they test, the 2nd grade teachers are proctors. I think the whole thing stinks to fucking high heaven, but no one really cares what i think.

Anyway, regardless of who I tell, I feel very strongly that nothing will happen. Cheating here in MS is rampant (cheating on the teachers part). There is a woman in Southwest MS who was expected to cheat, refused, documented cases of other teachers, principals and administrators cheating and telling others to cheat. She first went to the school board, who basically just went straight to the principal, who abruptly found that she wasn't teaching up to expectations and her contract was not renewed. She then went to the State Super and it pretty much stalled there. She cannot even get a job in this state now and I would guess would probably have difficulty finding a teaching job in any public school any longer. (I'm going to go find some articles about that.)

Also, I live in a school district where the principal at the high school currently has 3 separate law suits against her by teachers at the school. 2 of them are for ASSAULT AND BATTERY against the teachers themselves. And no, the principal has never been reprimanded, fired, etc...more often than not, they just move the teachers around to other schools within the district.

I'll post this and then post some follow up references.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:30 pm 
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About the principal:
http://www.starkvilledailynews.com/inde ... d=60%5C%22


this is the evil reading program:
http://www.successforall.net/

This is my city and county's drop out rates:
Locally, Starkville School District and Oktibbeha County School District have dropout rates significantly higher than the state’s average.
SSD has a dropout rate of 36.1 percent while OCSD has a rate of 32.7 percent.
http://www.starkvilledailynews.com/content/view/25326/

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:39 pm 
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Sounds like your school system is taking the Bush admin's example and doing just as it pleases, regardless of legalities and morals.

I don't know how your husband feels, but if I were you two, I'd think very seriously about leaving Mississippi (or the area where you live now) and get your child into a good educational system. Second grade is a very important year, with third grade being the Big Transition.

Believe me, lefty...good subs with experience are as scarce as hens' teeth and in great demand. Look around and think about your options.

Hang in there...and let us know how it's going.

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That's all there is to it."

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:54 pm 
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School starts here on the 7th. Also, I am in the lucky position of not having to work right now. So my main concern is my son's education. As of this point, we have decided for me to homeschool him. Moving is really not a big option because H has a very good job at the university and has worked there for nearly 20 years now. Obviously to both of us my son's education is utmost, luckily, with my degrees (English, Art History, Philosophy and French), we have the liberal arts area of his education covered and H has degrees in Chemistry, chem education, a Master's in Education and a specialist in educational technology. So we have science covered as well. Oh ya, and H has a minor in German, in which he is far more fluent than my French...anyhow. The 2nd grade gifted ed teacher is one of my only offline friends (ha), and as my son has been accepted into the gifted program, we think we can petition the school board for him to still get the gifted class the school offers. Which is one day a week, all day long. So, he would still get to play with his peers, have outside stimulation and experiences...etc.
I am actually kind of excited. My son is extraordinarily gifted. He has been bored with school since the first day he walked in the doors. So I think that having the chance to learn as fast or slow as he needs will help him a lot with a lot of things.

I guess we'll just have to see how well it all goes. (And other area school districts are actually worse; starkville's are considered the best schools in the area)

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You can sing the praises of women all day long, but as long as you put a fertilized egg ahead of [their] welfare, you do not really care about them.-Dori 4/07


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 9:52 pm 
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Sounds like a plan, lefty. :D If I can be of any assistance, don't hesitate to ask! :wink:

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"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
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"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:23 am 
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So you don't think I've gone completely off the deep end here? I was hoping you guys would tell me if my venture was seeming a little more nuts than I usually am...

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You can sing the praises of women all day long, but as long as you put a fertilized egg ahead of [their] welfare, you do not really care about them.-Dori 4/07


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:01 pm 
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When someone has the courage to speak up about dishonorable activities/behavior going on in places and by people who are the role models for our children, I hardly think they've gone off the deep end. The deep end in this country right now is NOT doing it...and that's what is so prevalent in our culture presently.

If you can stay home with your son, teach him, and allow for him to have positive interaction with other boys and girls his age, do it. Remember, you can always enroll him in another public school...when and whereever you think it's in his best interests.

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"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
Honore de Balzac

"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman


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