I had debated about returning to the classroom full time. When I arrived in Nashville I was well warned about the state of the schools here and the landscape dotted with private academies and charter schools only further contribute to the decline in enrollment and in turn funding for its public schools. I have also said the merger of the county and city schools in the 60s to force integration has set up their school system as simply too big to succeed. And to rely on Magnets and fake "academies" to somehow encourage students to remain in school and provide supposed school to work training only lends to cracks big and wide for students to further fall through and does little to build school and community that is critical in student achievement. Right now Parents have 90 choice option schools and they try to actually pretend this is a good thing. No it is not as it only further confuses parents and dilutes the funding even more so.
To believe that graduation rates are rising is to believe that students are graduating ready for continuing education, training and work would mean that we would have less than 4% unemployment and universities that would have students ready and able to take on the tasks and requirements of higher learning, graduate on time and with less debt or the ability to repay it as they are attaining appropriate and commensurate work related to their degree.
My favorite is the dueling news stories that in true Tennessee fashion contradict one another about the schools. The current tangent is on a program called Tennessee Promise which is this:
Tennessee Promise is both a scholarship and mentoring program focused on increasing the number of students that attend college in our state. It provides students a last-dollar scholarship, meaning the scholarship will cover tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship, or state student assistance funds. Students may use the scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institution offering an associate’s degree program.
While removing the financial burden is key, a critical component of Tennessee Promise is the individual guidance each participant will receive from a mentor who will assist the student as he or she navigates the college admissions process. This is accomplished primarily via mandatory meetings that students must attend in order to remain eligible for the program. In addition, Tennessee Promise participants must complete eight hours of community service per term enrolled, as well as maintain satisfactory academic progress (2.0 GPA) at their institution.
So on NPR this a.m. the story discussed how retention rates were much lower and higher than anticipated, (but do credit that many enrollees were likely college bound but took advantage of the free part so that may be a contributing factor; however those with largely marginalized at risk attendees did not maintain that success ratio). Yet on the local TV news they claimed it was higher, period higher, no exceptions. Well with a 2.0 GPA, that means they can get largely below average grades to meet the minimum so it is not a challenging program in the least. But what the news did was define the 58% as successful and I suppose it is but really is it? Again note the GPA minimum and then after the two years in community college do they go on to higher University or what, as once again that was unknown or unclear as to how many are part of this program, how many are just locals or even transplants. Again vague on the data there but again this is a program in its nascent days, so what exactly are we trumping here. (That is claiming success regardless is like well...) And for the record, Washington State has a program called Running Start that allows kids to enroll in a Community College to get credits while still attending high school. And all of these programs are ironic as they are the concept of free college touted by Sanders and now Clinton and the best part is that the one in Tennessee came from a Republican and an utter idiot (he is a progeny of a wealthy family self made means in TN getting up alone I think).
I do want to point out that Tennessee has an immensely low level of education attainment and funding (bottom quartile) and this program was established due to the reality that many Students were arriving below skill level and could not manage college level classes, so really these are what kind of classes? But wait I thought the grad rates were up and kids were smarter now due to all that testing. Or not as the ACT scores seem to validate. Whatever. Ah Tennessee they should change their State motto to the Contradiction State vs the Volunteer one.
The below article is discussing Teacher retention and I know I have no intention of doing more than seat warming I do now. And it is not surprising that the number of Teachers bailing is now double when I started 20 years ago, then it was at 40% of new Teachers leaving in the first three years and it now includes more experienced Teachers as well. I have never been more embarrassed, angry and sad every time I walk into a school and classroom. I actually at one point felt sorry for the Educators but I rarely meet one competent and professional so I have decided to lump them all into the classification of abused spouses. They remind me of that stereotype of a woman too afraid to leave and too caught up in the cycle of love you/hate you to leave. Fear is a powerful hold. I cannot believe it is due to any connection to the students as the majority of kids I encounter are beyond stupid. Yes I used the word stupid. Do you have another "word" that is a synonym but means the same? I do and it all really falls to stupid. And who is at fault? Well the Teachers and they cannot teach such shattered broken lives when they too are equally broken and shattered. It is the most negative cycle of energy that one can experience. Even a kid last week said that to me about his classmates, he said, "they are just stupid." And he too I felt bad for as he was truly the exception to the rule.
Today I watched a boy whose behavior verged on bizarre to outright idiocy ramble on for 90 minutes about nothing. His partner in crime a young woman who seemed to alternately encourage this while she too seemed to have the same verbal diarrhea so at some level she seemed to want this performance art to lead me to do something or respond in some way. Uh no, I have seen this repeatedly in Nashville and it now is frankly boring as hell. It is like being trapped in a bad play and you think will this end soon? When she finally asked for me help it was preceded by the usual smirk, eye roll and nod to the friends which sends a non verbal signal to me that this is set up of some kind, of which I am unclear, but it happens on a daily if not hourly basis dependent upon the school that I just now say no, can't help you sorry. I challenge anyone to react and respond differently.
In the article not one mentions the students but in reality that is also a contributory factor but no one wants to actually mention that elephant in the room as risk being labeled racist, etc. Call me whatever you want but I know who I am and I am not a whipping boy for a system or a child broken beyond repair.
What Are The Main Reasons Teachers Call It Quits?
By Eric Westervelt & Kat Lonsdorf • Oct 24, 2016
National Public Radio
For Ross Roberts, it was a lack of resources that drove him from the classroom. For Danielle Painton, it was too much emphasis on testing. For Sergio Gonzalez, it was a nasty political environment.
Welcome to the U.S. teaching force, where the "I'm outta here" rate is an estimated 8 percent a year — twice that of high-performing countries like Finland or Singapore. And that 8 percent is a lot higher than other professions.
The teaching force is "a leaky bucket, losing hundreds of thousands of teachers each year — the majority of them before retirement age," says a recent report from the Learning Policy Institute.
Why are so many teachers leaving?
There are, of course, many reasons both personal and professional.
Let's start with money. While teachers don't get into the profession for the dough, money is a factor. Beginning teachers make about 20 percent less than college graduates in other fields.
But overall, teachers and researchers say, educators want a bigger voice in school policies and plans. Many feel left out of key discussions.
"Working conditions are even more important for keeping people in once they've made the choice to teach," says Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the Learning Policy Institute.
Another key factor is preparation.
"Teachers who are well prepared leave at more than two times lower rates than teachers who are not fully prepared," Darling-Hammond says.
So what can we learn from teachers who've left? We asked four of them to give us their reasons:
Robert Lutjens 39, is a former middle school science teacher in Sugar Land, Texas, near Houston.
"It sounds a little bit dramatic, but part of it was I was not allowed to fail students," he says. "There was a phrase that kept going around that I heard from administrators: 'We need to make sure they succeed, we need to guarantee their success.' Which was code for: 'They need to pass.' "
Lutjens says he just couldn't support passing students if they weren't learning the material. In addition, he says, the paperwork that came with the job was ludicrous, burdensome and plentiful: "I felt that I had a lot of not very effective hoops to jump through."
What would have helped him stay?
"There's not a simple solution," he says. "I would like to see more of an emphasis on — rather than passing — to have an emphasis on actually learning. The culture of the campus would have had to have a vast overhaul."
Lutjens now works as a pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church in Wharton, Texas.
Danielle Painton, 34, is a former elementary school teacher from Pennsylvania.
When she landed a full-time teaching job right out of college, Painton counted herself lucky. But after a decade at a public elementary school near Lancaster, she called it quits.
Education has become test-and-data obsessed, she says: "The schools are being run a little bit more like on a business model of constantly collecting data and then (that's) driving all of our decisions."
It's a shift, she says, that eroded emphasis on the craft of teaching and seeing students as individuals.
"I can't see that kid who walks through my door — who didn't have breakfast or whose parents just got divorced — and think that his number on his latest test is the most important thing about that child on that day," she told us.
Painton remembers a fourth-grade girl who, in the middle of a weeklong bout of testing, put her head down on her desk.
"I said, 'Are you OK?' " Painton recalls. "And she said, 'Mrs. Painton, this just isn't fun anymore.' "
"It was haunting me," she says. "I just kept hearing: This isn't fun anymore, this isn't fun anymore. And these are kids."
Ross Roberts, 33, is a former high school special education teacher in eastern Tennessee.
"Get this," Roberts says. "I was teaching a reading class and I had no books to read!"
Roberts spent three years teaching special education in Jonesborough, Tenn., before he decided to leave and become a financial adviser.
"If things were different in education, honestly, I would still be there," he says from his office at Northwestern Mutual in Knoxville.
A combination of factors led to his departure, but one of the primary reasons, he says, was the frustration of not having essential resources. He says he regularly had to rely on the Internet for reading material. He eventually worked up some grant money and donations to get books for his class.
Roberts says it was stressful and annoying that teachers were often expected to pay for major supplies out of their own pockets — on a salary that doesn't allow much wiggle room.
"I didn't feel I had that capacity," he says, "and there's a bit of guilt that comes along with that."
Administration and leadership also make "a huge difference," Roberts notes. After he left, he says, a new director stepped into his former district who was focused on making sure that technology and materials got into classrooms.
"It really all boils down to the level of support that you get," he says. "To have that support coming from the top, it just makes your job easier."
Sergio Gonzalez, 29, is a former dual-language middle school teacher in Wisconsin.
Gonzalez taught in Madison's first dual-language program — meaning that he taught science and language arts in both Spanish and English to students in grades 6-8.
"It was draining but extremely rewarding," he remembers.
He'd always wanted to be a teacher. He hadn't even considered another career, he says, until Gov. Scott Walker proposed Act 10 in 2011, a controversial budget measure that was widely perceived as an attack on the power of teachers unions.
The act — and the massive demonstrations by teachers that followed — created a toxic political climate and left many educators feeling alienated.
"The environment for public education in Wisconsin was changing," Gonzalez says.
While most parents were supportive, he says, there was definitely pushback. He remembers that on the day he returned to school, one parent gave him the middle finger as she drove away.
"I knew that if I stuck around I was going to get bitter, and I was not going to be a good teacher," he says. "But I can't emphasize enough how, ever since I was a kid, my goal was to be a public school teacher. And that opportunity seemed to be taken away from me."