Monday, November 13, 2006
I work at an "alternative" high school on the West Side of Chicago. The "kids" are actually young adults, 17-21 years of age. Many of them are here as an alternative to prison time. The tiny staff (6 teachers, a secretary, two administrators, a counselor, two security guards, a custodian and a lunch lady) deal with a variety of tough things-- tough kids, tough situations. Many of the kids who walked in the door at the beginning of the year were prepared for this place to be their next failure.
I've come to greatly repect all of the teaching staff, and most of the rest of the staff. I usually think we've got pretty good administrators-- I've definitely had worse. Today, we had a memo in our mailboxes about lesson plans-- that they are to be in by Friday, or else we faced an administrative write-up.
Beyond the fact that this is a charter school, and a write-up basically means nothing....
We frequently have classes cancelled by events that were not announced, and have to somehow keep with the curriculum. We deal with kids who have attendence rates usually around 60%. We have kids who are learning disabled whom we still, two months into the school year have not recieved IEP's-- Individualized Education Plans-- it tells what their disabilities and limitations are, and give us guidelines for dealing with them. We've got kids with extreme emotional issues and mental health issues.
We come in every day and act professionally in the face of some horrendous classroom situations. Three of the six teachers are first-year teachers. I've seen two of them reduced to tears. And yet, we keep showing up with enthusiasm and hope. To recieve this petty memo is a real slap in our faces.
I've dealt with administrators in many fields-- government administrators , private sector administrators and education administrators. By far, the worst were education administrators. More than any other, they spend their time trying to justify their own existence. Almost all education administrators were classroom teachers at one time. As a friend said, is there a drug they take that makes them forget that?