Thursday, May 19, 2011

How a teacher for sued for $20M for trying to do his job

Having just read the article linked I felt like I had to draft an immediate response. This self-feeding system of lip service and unaccountability is an absolute disgrace. These parents are just the 30-years-later versions of the author's most disruptive (former) students. The problem is how infectious this nature is. We're going to eventually have organically moved to dual systems of "just get them to the next grade" and actual education, something that I don't think worked out too well in the 50's and 60's... I'm reminded of the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education where it was determined that "separate is not equal" by definition. But why should the behaving students be punished by the delinquents that happen to live in their same district?

Our society is imploding from the outside-in and education/discipline (or the lack their of) is the catalyst for this change. Its hard enough to be a teacher, why would the constant threat of assault, occasional actual assault and the potential for a frivolous lawsuit sway them to even TRY to help the inner-cities?


To gain control, I tried imposing the kinds of consequences that the classroom-management handbooks recommend. None worked. My classroom was too small to give my students “time out.” I tried to take away their recess, but depriving them of their one sanctioned time to blow off steam just increased their penchant to use my classroom as a playground. When I called parents, they were often mistrustful and tended to question or even disbelieve outright what I told them about their children. It was sometimes worse when they believed me, though; the tenth time I heard a mother swear that her child was going to “get a beating for this one,” I almost decided not to call parents. By contrast, I saw immediate behavioral and academic improvement in students whose parents had come to trust me.

One parent who was also a teacher’s aide threatened to “kick my white ass” in front of my class and received no punishment from the principal, beyond being told to stay out of my classroom. The failure of the principal, parents, and teachers to react more decisively to racist disrespect emboldened students to behave worse. Such poisonous bigotry directed at a black teacher at a mostly white school would of course have created a federal case.

D.C. Public Schools grade kids on a highly subjective 1 to 4 scale, 4 being the highest. Most of my students entered fifth grade with grave academic deficiencies, yet their cumulative records revealed fair to excellent grades, making clear that social promotion was standard practice at Emery. I wasn’t playing along. I had given regular tests and quizzes that first semester, and most of my students had earned straight 1s by any rational measure. True to the credo of high expectations, I would give them the grades they earned.

Source ->

**Update** related story -> CHEATERS: DC Teachers help students beat standardized tests

1 comment:

  1. Long article. And I completely agree with everything he said. I long-termed subbed for six weeks outside of DC and I wouldn't want to go back. I've never had threats against me or fights break out in my room, but was forced to call Security many times to get the bad ones of the classroom. The worst I've ever had was a student who was supposed to be in the classroom as a teacher's aide and had to be there to accrue a certain number of hours of service for graduation being SO disruptive that I had to kick him out and revoke his ability to accrue service hours. And the nicest kid in my one class came in with gang initiation cigarette burns on his hands.