Sorry, that title was a stretch. I have to finish yesterday’s post in two pieces because these issues are so immense that they need pieces and space. Also, I get so stressed out writing these that I need some peace and space.
One thing I didn’t mention was that, in order to get certain standings and funding, we had to write a lengthy report and gather data about what we would do to pull our school out of level four. We spent professional development doing this, the whole staff contributed, and it was a lot of work. Again, more we had to do and we came up with nothing new, it didn’t help our kids to write this report, it only took more of our time.
I’m sorry, that’s not true. The report we wrote was meant to help our kids. Because if we wrote it well we got leniency and money and if we didn’t, well… And we were basically told what had to be in the report for it to get approved but it took a lot of work. We didn’t need to spend the time doing this! We had enough work to do.
So those were the first two years of shame. We wrote the improvement plan, we lost %50 of our staff, and we worked almost an extra hour every day. We made some improvements. Our test scores, our graduation rate, and our attendance went up. In some ways, it was good to constantly be monitoring our numbers on every thing. Even though we made improvements, they weren’t the large leaps and bounds they asked us in a short time.
So Going forward, see? I brought our letter of the day back around, going forward we remained level four despite improvements so instead of going to level five – worse – by agreeing (the teachers had no voice in this) to have a consulting group come in. I wont say the name of this consulting group but they were just terrible.
I’ll start with something I felt was a good thing. They brought in “Math Labs” Students had two math classes scheduled into their day and they had their regular math class and then a class where they sat at about maybe three to a desk and got more individualized math attention. I couldn’t love this idea more!
But it had a dark and stupid under belly
#1: Remember that terrible interview process I spoke about in this month’s post:
The consequence of these interviews was the gutting of our staff, again, for the third year in a row. Most of the math department was let go or sent to other schools. We were left with two math teachers that year.
Even worse, they didn’t replace all of those teachers. who would want to work at this school at this point? Some math classes were taught by long term subs, some by day to day subs. Some had teachers that left after only a month or two.
So they had math tutors, who only needed to have an associates degree, not a bachelor and masters, like other people trained to be teachers. So basically what happened is that they gave them maybe one functioning math class so they were right where they were before.
We had to keep constant track with extra paperwork of what we were trying to do, write detailed lessons for everything we did and turn them in to over worked principals. An since I have been gone this year I hear it has gotten “worse.” I refuse to listen to it because I’m not there. In fact, maybe what I’m doing here is pointless. You have to be there, be working there, be responsible for these students and be one of the ones blamed for the failure in order to understand. It seems as though “State Takeover” is imminent and I don’t even know what that means.
Perceptions need to change. The idea was right, school should be doing better for students, but taking control from teachers hands wasn’t the right idea. Less is more. I promise I’ll get to that. I’ll get to some ideas I think could be solutions. They may all fall on deaf ears, I certainly don’t expect these blog posts to get read by anyone important and change to happen because I’m saying this. But for any one who is reading this, or may read it some day down the road, I will offer something more than this doom and gloom and disagreement.
Just keep in your minds the students as we read about these policies. It is about them.