Sunday, May 26, 2013

Movin' On Up...(and away from the east side)

I'm not going to lie. Things have been stressful lately. Monday through Friday I masquerade as a weary and battered shuttlecock in a surreal game of academic badminton played between the Reich Chancellery (school district) and many clueless and some crackhead parents who vie for control of everything I --not to mention my esteemed colleagues-- say and do.

Because they fear a lawsuit, downtown authorities want us to handle everything from extreme attendance issues (One young girl has been absent for two months and has not been enrolled anywhere else) to students with 31 zeros (also a true story) at the campus level while ghetto parents throw a clot every time you correct them or their children for anything. Each party desires miraculous academic results without suffering any personal loss of energy on their own part all the while bearing no responsibility for the failure that is almost certainly due to the refusal of the former entity (district) to recognize the essential role of the latter (parents) as the creators and would-be facilitators of what we in education refer to as the formative years. 

Truthfully, it's like being handed 77 5th graders who have been raised on a steady diet of cigarettes, Flaming Hot Cheetos and Mountain Dew and then being critically evaluated on whether or most of them can--after a scant eight months-- qualify for the Olympic trials.

 I'm done.

Seacrest out, my friends. Marva Collins has left the building. I'm waving the white flag of surrender and throwing in the proverbial towel. I'm cashing in my chips.  I'm taking my vintage vinyl copy of Lulu singing "To Sir, With Love" and breaking it in half over my knee. I'm not saying it can't be done. I'm just saying that it can't be done by me. Here. Now.

 Defecting along with me are two upper grade colleagues. Another two have requested transfers but have thus far been unable to find positions elsewhere. The AP is resigning from education altogether.'s not just me, just in case you were wondering.

Next year I'll be teaching 8th grade English Literature far away from the Quick Cash kiosks and Section 8 housing that surround my present educational establishment. My new job is closer to home and it's with an age group that--when the bell rings--is capable of walking to lunch, rather than requiring me to slice off part of my own meager mealtime to ferry them there and back to the classroom. I've taught 8th grade before and I've raised 8th graders. Of course, you could say that I've raised 5th graders too and you'd be right, but the ones who grew up in my house knew their own address and phone number and that Clown College and Hair College should never be mistaken for higher education. It had to be said.

To complicate matters, I've spent almost a month of post-work afternoons or evenings seeing my father in the hospital. ER first trip, post-op, ER second trip, post-op, cardiac telemetry, two weeks of a propofol-induced coma in the ICU, and back to cardiac telemetry before....finally...a two week stint in a physical rehab hospital where he is learning to walk again. All the while waiting for good news from a better school and better chances for good news about my dad. News that would suggest that we can resume planning his 80th birthday party again.

My head aches from the semi-permenent grimace I wear and my voice is strident and pedantic. I resemble Nancy Grace minus the bad hair and handcuff necklace she word during the Jodi Arias trial. There has been a notable increase in my wine consumption of late and on more than one occasion I've been tempted to check myself into a remote mountain top ashram under the name "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" and let robed monks bring me tea and invoke the Grand Silence.

Instead, I'm going to take a multi-vitamin, drink a big tumbler of ice water, do a handstand, smile at the calendar which shows the remaining eight days of school and rejoice in a second chance to experience joy in my chosen profession.

Happy Memorial Day, y'all.


  1. God, I can't tell you how relieved I am for you. I've taught in some rough schools (the one that comes to mind right now is the one where the Momma showed up to a team meeting in her bedroom slippers and curlers and - when our team leader began the meeting by stating that we were concerned because her son (the thug) was failing every class and had spent 80% of the last month in ISS - stood up, screamed, "Don't raise your voice to the Queen!" but I don't think I've ever worked anywhere quite like what you have to deal with. You must feel like a huge load has been lifted off your shoulders. Hope that your dad continues to recover and the birthday party is the best one he's ever had. I taught middle school (6,7,8) for 8 years and really enjoyed it. I'm sure you're looking forward to being back with kids again who've already lost most of their teeth. Congratulations and hold on for those last 8 days!

  2. Just realized I forgot to close my original parentheses. I hope you won't hold it against me. I have a terrible problem with run-on sentences.

  3. I'll keep praying for your dad. I'm so glad or YOU to get a different position. How people can work under those conditions is beyond me. Total madness. And it's not for lack of heart, creativity and effort that we can't change this broken system--your Olympic analogy is spot on.

  4. you have been beaten down. i hope this summer is kind to you and nothing but good things happen.

  5. Congratulations on the new job! It's got to be better than the current one. I hope your dad recovers quickly. It's so rough on older people to be confined in the hospital so long - they can barely walk when they get out, they've lost all muscle tone, and some of them (including my own dad) temporarily lose their minds. If my father ever goes into the hospital again, I have no doubt it will kill him.

  6. I love your analogy about getting kids raised on cheetos ready for the Olympics. I don't really understand the messed-up attitude about education in this country. Between the angry, tea-party, concerned taxpayers who want to obliterate education spending, to policies on standardized testing that clearly have no grounding in reality, to all the crazycakes parents, it all seems too much. I'm glad you've found a better job, and I hope your father continues to recover.

  7. It seems time for you to catch a break in teaching--I hope it's what you want it to be. Our system does, indeed, seem to be broken. Best wishes for your father's recovery.

  8. I discovered your blog today and have been enjoying my way backward through your archive of lovely prose and razor sharp observations. Thank you, thank you for writing! Please don't stop.

  9. Eight days. Just maintain and try not to collapse. I'm beyond elated for you to get that new assignment teaching literature.

    You'll probably cry on the first day next fall when they all walk in and actually sit there, relatively quiet and waiting for you to speak. If you do, tell them why. They'll love you forever.

    I wish nothing but the serenest of summers for you. Let Mr. Half take care of you. If your Boys are home, clue them in and let them minister to you as well. I do so love it when my own Boys take care of me.

    Well done, good and faithful servant (strike that) soldier. Bless your lovely heart. How well I know.

  10. "Teaching Literature." What a lovely, long-awaited job title. I know it won't be without its own frustrations--teenagers...oy--but at least it won't be a daily exercise in pounding your head against a wall of apathy and ignorance. You deserve this. I hope this summer is relaxing and dread-free!!

  11. I am stoked for you and the new job! How exciting for you and a great way to get back to loving what you do.
    I will send all my postitive vibes your way that your dad has a speedy recovery.

  12. Hope your father continues to recover and that you are recovering from your dispiriting years in the public school system (yay, Texas?)

    Speaking of Texas, is Wendy Davis your state senator?


Be nice. It's not as hard as it sounds.