Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lunch Lady Land

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Covering lunch today, that's my only assignment.  Funny you know.  I have a Master's Degree and this is what they are paying me for?  Could be worse, though, so will do what I can.

It recently dawned on me that this ATR experience, while at times frustrating is also a very eye opening experience.  Last year, I taught at the Academy for Social Action in Harlem.  The teachers I worked with were good people and we did our best with what we had.  Many of the kids we taught were disrespectful, but many of them also had severe issues which the school was unable to support.  On top of that we had a first year principal with skeptical teaching experience and an AP who I did not feel was very supportive of the teaching staff.  Actually, in many cases they were down right abusive.  Not to me, personally, but to others who I know worked as hard as they could in difficult circumstances.  One teacher was so stressed, he suffered seizures in school and still they found a reason to give him low ratings.  I hope he took legal action.

Most of the schools I've been in so far have been well run, with a clear vision and respect for all the staff.  Really can do attitude going on.  I've seen schools were the principal and AP's still teach, don't overburden teachers with unnecessary paperwork and provide support that is meaningful.  Why is it then that there are many other schools who seem to do the wrong thing over and over?  I know there are simple answers to this, but bear with me.

My last few years at MBHS were marked by a culture of Fear and Intimidation.  We had Dr. Andrea Lewis and Lottie Almonte, both who were run out of Bergtraum, but not before destroying the culture.  The year after I worked for Anne Geiger at Art & Tech who prosecuted a teacher on trumped up fallacious charges and had the temerity to go after the licenses of two hard working first year teachers.  Couple that with last year at Academy, where the principal and AP also went after licenses and gave the science teacher ineffective even though he actually got students to pass the Science Regents, where they had none the previous year.

All the schools I've worked in have been marked by Fear and Intimidation.  No one wants to work for abusive administrators.  The teachers suffer, the kids suffer, nothing gets done.   Not surprisingly, all those schools either close down, get reduced, merged or just manage to linger on though the day is inevitable when they will collapse.  Meanwhile, you have schools where there is respect for the profession that are succeeding.  If only the mayor could see that and actually fulfill his promise to help schools instead of whatever the heck he is doing now.

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