Thursday, August 18

For My Next Trick I Will Attempt To Break Out Of Handcuffs I Made Myself Before My Lovely Assistant Can Escape From A Water Tank While Upside Down

Jesus, is this a primary election or a reality show?

-Callyson, "Jonathan Alter launches Chris Christie Presidential bid" at Wonkette

MY Poor Wife reports, ten days into the new school year, that she is now spending more time filling out paperwork, both palpable and electron-based, than actually working with students, a situation which obtains even though, as she has for the past several years, she acquiesces to teaching one more class per day than she is contractually required to.

But contracts don't seem to mean much nowadays, as anything and everything which can be ignored is (this is not particularly new to Indianapolis Public Schools in general, nor to the reign of Dr. Eugene White in particular).

"The 'core subjects' teachers have it a lot worse," she said. "They're sending reports in triplicate which have to be entered into three different web pages. Everyone's lost a prep period to attend mandatory meetings. All this stuff is going into a file somewhere that no one will ever open."

If you got here late, realizing that his time was short to actually profit on awarding private contracts to operate public schools, Mitch Daniels and educational henchman Dr. Tony Bennett rushed into the nuclear option this year, without being able (surprise!) to actually elucidate actual standards and actual responses when those actual standards weren't met. They're poised to take over Indianapolis Failing Public Schools, auction them off to some room deodorizer manufacturer, and declare the problem solved. But they couldn't get ready by the actual start of the actual school year so, like that Iraq War: The Sequel that Mitch financed for us, they went in with the troops they had. Hearings, and more hearings, and the fate of the schools left hanging (for one thing, in order to get the power to do this shit they had to write the law so that the results were entirely arbitrary, lest poor scores at some exoburban system trying to educate large number of farm children with thresher injuries trigger a takeover that white people wouldn't like).

So while we wait for them to sell everything to Edison, or maybe that consortium that runs the Toll Road, the administrative weight of the Indianapolis Public School system has been thrown behind some sort of headless chicken dance designed to ward off death by axing. Not of the teachers, staff, or schools. Of the administrators.

Who fucking works for two weeks in this country and doesn't understand how things work? Who really imagines that handing over employment regulations to local administrators so they can act like the franchisee of some fast-food bunker is going to improve education? Or, for fuck's sake, manage to do anything in any way shape or form except make things worse?

Two more things: these same educational "reformers" made sure to lower the standards for incoming teachers, in the name of Improvement. "Oh, this way the retired industry chemist or idealistic math whiz can give teaching a shot, and we automatically get better teachers, because Business." And in return they get four classes in a row, out of six total, to a roomful (and more) of surly teenagers, with the five minute's passing time between classes to prepare for the next lesson and attend to life's fecal necessities. Welcome, Idealists!

The second is that my Poor Wife, known to some people who read this blog just to get a feel for the sort of thing she goes through, is not the source of these complaints. I am. She--a Teacher, in every good sense of that word--still goes beyond what she's asked for, legal or no. I try not to think about how I wound up with a good woman with a moral code, since when I do I usually go straight to the "how many reincarnations as a pilonidal cyst am I gonna get for this deal?" But for cryin' out loud. All the working conditions shit in the labor contract are the product of long years of everyone involved working together for the common good, not labor union banditry; would you rather have a teacher or a politician hold your wallet while you disappeared for ten minutes? We know it is no good to chain people to class after class, deprive them of prep time, or bury them in the after-action report detritus of the bureaucratic mind. But we're doing it. We're requiring even more work out of the people who do the actual work in the first place, because that way the people who are really responsible look like they're the ones doing something.

In four years time--after IPS has been auctioned off--you're going to hear 1) "Test scores are almost as good as they were before, a remarkable achievement when we had to come in and start from scratch." 2) 'There hasn't been enough time to really evaluate the new system. Please come back after you've forgotten all about it." or 3) "We are beginning to look at whether high-stakes testing is really in the best interest of students. Perhaps we need a wider-based approach to acquiring the necessary skills to compete at some level in the modern, global economy."

You talk about stealing from future generations….


Anonymous said...


Thanks for being a truth teller in a world of fog. I think you're absolutely right how this will all shake out. But then, we're using logic and heaven forbid!

Deggjr said...

A home mortgage is an enternal moral obligation to a bank (or some organization somewhere) but a teacher contract is only a scrap of paper.

Administrators demonstrate what employment-at-will looks like in education. Charter school teachers confirm it.