Current stresses on teachers

By jere 21 Sep 2002

I know I saw this on the wall in the teachers’ room at Hodgdon High School, but when it appeared on the wall in the teachers’ room at Wellesley, I decided it deserved another round of appreciation…..

Let me see if Ive got this right.  You want me to go into that room with all those kids and fill their every waking moment with a love for learning.  Not only that, Im to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, behaviorally modify disruptive behavior, and observe them for signs of abuse, drugs and T-shirt messages (and check to see that shorts have a 4 inseam, blouses cover belly buttons, and no ones crack or underwear is showing).

I am to fight the war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for guns and raise their self-esteem.  Im to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, how and where to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook and how to apply for a job, but I am never to ask if they are in this country illegally.

I am to check their heads occasionally for lice, maintain a safe environment, recognize signs of potential antisocial or suicidal behavior, offer advice, write letters of recommendation for student employment and scholarships (although I dont have to write more than 25), encourage respect for the cultural diversity of others, and oh, yeah, teach, always making sure that I give the girls in my class 50% of my attention.

Im required by my contract to be working, on my own time and at my own expense  well, OK, I might get 10% of the cost back from my school district, summers and evenings, towards additional certification, advance certification and a masters degree, to sponsor the cheerleaders or the sophomore class, and after school I am to attend committee and faculty meetings and participate in staff development training to maintain my current certification and employment states.  And I should try to attend the after-school and weekend games my students play in, to show that I am interested in them and their lives outside my classroom.

Im to collect data and maintain all records to support and document our buildings progress in the selected state-mandated program to assess and upgrade educational excellence in the public schools.

I am to be a paragon of virtue larger than life, such that my very presence will awe my students into being obedient and respectful of authority.  I am to pledge allegiance to supporting family values, a return to the basics and my current administration.

I am to incorporate technology into the learning, but monitor all web sites for appropri-ateness while providing a personal one-on-one relationship with each student.  I am to decide who might be potentially dangerous and/or liable to commit crimes in school, or who is possibly being abused  and I can be sent to jail for not mentioning these suspicions to those in authority.  

I am to make sure <span class="caps">ALL</span> students pass not only state and federally mandated testing but also all classes, whether or not they attend school on a regular basis or complete any of the work assigned.  I am to communicate frequently with each students parent by letter, phone, newsletter and grade card.  

Im to do all this with a piece of chalk, a computer, some books, a bulletin board, a 45-minute or less planning time, and a big smile, on a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps in many states.

Is that all?

And you want me to do all this and expect me to do it without praying?