Letters to Holly

Friday, October 24

Calling Down the Thunder

The reason we missed your call last night was becuase Your Sister was trying to navigate a shitstorm.

The school board held a regular meeting, and more than 50 people showed up to express concerns about teacher treatment and teacher turnover affecting students. The board doesn't want to deal with this. They don't inform attendees that they are only allowed to address the board if they sign up beforehand. They also limited public comment to 2 minutes each speaker. This also isn't made known until the first speaker starts. Also, speakers can't mention specific teacher names, and this is a secret until the first teacher name is spoken. Student complaints are directed back to the school student government.

A former teacher went public with the county's methods of handling weak and unpopular teachers. She was booted from Your Sister's school via an "action plan." This is a teacher salvage project given to teachers who don't follow district or state-specific goal. She came to the state specifically to teach at this school, and she as gone within three years. The action plan she was given directed her to complete 600 hours worth of extracurricular material, including video workshops. She was observed 16 times within 18 weeks. She was denied access to library material to prepare her mandatory work. She was given the choice to wait or be blacklisted. She quit and went to Florida.

All the teachers knew about her circumstance. And there are plenty of other teachers who have been driven out for various reasons. In the 2001-2008 term, the county lost 35 teachers. The majority of them came from Your Sis's school. When the above teacher was sent packing, there were four months left in the school year. Her students were given subs for the rest of the year; other teachers and the parents feel the subs didn't prepare the students for the state exams.

The paper covered all this -- the exile, the board protocol, everything. It also ran a long editorial excoriating the board's behavior for a lingering issue. Of course, this has jolted the school system.

Your Sis is co-chair of a school improvement board mandated by the state. She didn't volunteer. In fact, she was chosen over another teacher who did volunteer, making neither employee happy with the situation. The committee is supposed to be a liaison between faculty and state administration, but the local administration stocked the committee with its preferred staff. That was an ugly enough scenario. Now there's the paper-publicized scandal.

Your Sis doesn't know how to handle this. As a teacher, she wants to foster comment from the community. As an employee, she's advised to leave it be. She considered an anonymous letter to the editor, but she can't trust the paper staff to handle this properly. When she tried to contact an assistant principal, she was rebuffed and learned later that the assistant was reduced to tears.

I suggested we take advantage of the upcoming elections. We know people running for school board and county commission; I recommended calling them for mutual gain. They get a hot-topic button to campaign with, and they can carry the baton on behalf of teachers scared of losing their jobs by stepping forward. One of them is the husband of a teacher. Others are current teachers or principals. There are many candidates who can grab this problem and, at least, provide an outlet for teachers and parents to vent concerns.

Your Sis was on the phone most of the night with other teachers, and her brain was mush by 9 p.m. She's in a distinct situation as a overseer of fellow teachers and an employee who has seen coworkers shuffled out the door unfairly. People will come to her to do something and do nothing.

I, on the other hand, ran in the cold and rolled my ankle. It happened early, and I ran through it, and there's no soreness this morning. I was worried about busting something in the last run before the race, and I dodged a bullet. I'll take tonight off and prepare my costume. It's gonna be cold, and a luchadore mask will protect my dainty ears.

Picture of the Day
But which to wear? The yellow and black masks will give my mouth plenty of air space, so they have the advantage.

+ + +

Was the kayak bought at a fall sale?

No comments: