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Tue Jan 22, 2013, 01:05 AM

Teaching in the Time of Obedience. So true. Ms Katie's Ramblings are impressive.

That may not make sense to those unfamiliar with the new education "reforms". I retired before the full import happened. But I saw the beginnings.

One of the best principals I ever had, and a dear friend, decided to retire earlier than he had planned. I asked him what in the world he was thinking. He said he could not be the kind of principal that the system was demanding under Jeb Bush's governorship. He said he felt sorry for the teachers for what was coming, he said since I had my time nearly in I should get out also.

He was so right! Our new principal was one of the "gotcha" types, I call them punitive principals. They looked for any way to catch a teacher doing something wrong. We had so many good teachers, excellent ones, in a school with difficult students and parents. We were doing as good a job as anyone could have under such conditions.

It was a nightmare working for her, but it was just beginning. The changes were starting in earnest when I did retire.

I will let a new teacher with special education credentials and a very bright mind give her side of it. Read all of her post, it's amazing.

Teaching in the Time of Obedience

She tells of writing on her FB page of how she wishes they had waited until after her teaching career to destroy the field and job for which she had prepared.

Then she continues her post on her blog.

Thanks guys. It just pisses me off. I did things the right way, got my Masters before entering the classroom, had years of experience teaching already, spent years working with students with special need at the psych hospital. But then the year I graduate (2009) the sh!t really starts to hit the fan. I morally and physically cannot do what the job has become, especially for Sped in the inner city. I can't do it. I can't give those damn tests. I can't divert more time to paperwork than kids. I can't contribute to making kids HATE school. I can't stay silent and wait 3 years until I have tenure to speak out or work openly with the union. I can't stay up every night past midnight and get up at five, working 7 days a week. So now I am in a dead-end job, with no possibility to ever pay off my students loans, and no where left to go. Teaching should have been..different than this.


More:

Another event was the vote on principal retention at the CPS elementary school where I sit as a community representative on the Local School Council. Last year, the principal used every trick in the book to redefine a number of tenured teachers out of their jobs. At the time, she claimed it was unavoidable due to the changes inflicted by the longer school day. But the teachers who just happened to be displaced were also the teachers who had vocally disagreed with the principal at some point in the year or who were most active in the union. And so there was a purge of staff, some forced out, others left after feeling unheard and unwelcome. All in all, the school lost 11 good teachers at the end of the year, many parents were upset, and many tears were shed.


She says not long after that, you could not tell anything had happened. There was no one left making waves.

That's the thing about purges. I'm sure life is easier now that no one speaks up about anything...ever. If you went to the community principal retention forum, you'd think this was the best principal on the face of the earth. Nothing but glowing praise, especially from her teachers. Glowing praise for the world to hear while parents and some staff members cried silently in the shadows.

And I understand why those (primarily) teachers worked so hard to kiss some serious principal ass. That is how things work, and this principal made it more than clear that if you disagree with her, you will be punished. Nevermind if you are a phenomenal teacher, nevermind if you have legitimate disagreements, nevermind if you have tenure and have a proven track record of excellence. The only way disagreements are resolved in CPS is to punish and fire.


I feel her pain. I once disagreed with policy openly about teachers and family matters because she had no understanding and compassion. Turns out I won that round, but I paid a dear price.

I did a search for her on Google last week. She left not long after that, they had tried to get rid of her for years. She's principal of a charter school up north somewhere.

There is a post in the comments section that is very moving.

My PTSD diagnosis came last February as I was literally being hunted down by my administrators on a daily basis. Like you, I am unable to sit down and retell my story start to finish because my heart literally begins to ache, the same way it did constantly by this time last year. So I tell it in bits and pieces, wearing the letters off my keyboard one by one. I have to believe that eventually, people will listen to us if for no other reason than curiosity about why we were considered such a big threat by people with much more power than us. Somebody out there has to be wondering what secrets we are keeping about the things that happen to children with disabilities behind closed doors


Ms Katie's Twitter page is an is an everyday experience through the world of corporate reform.

It's time to have a real discussion on what is happening to our public schools. The election is over, we were told just wait until it's over to be critical.

The inauguration is done now. It would not have been a good time to fuss about education.

Real discussion means just that....talking about a subject serious enough to affect our nation's future. It's hard to do that sometimes.

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Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply Teaching in the Time of Obedience. So true. Ms Katie's Ramblings are impressive. (Original post)
madfloridian Jan 2013 OP
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #1
madfloridian Jan 2013 #2
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #12
madfloridian Jan 2013 #15
erinlough Jan 2013 #3
madfloridian Jan 2013 #4
reteachinwi Jan 2013 #5
madfloridian Jan 2013 #10
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #6
madfloridian Jan 2013 #7
reteachinwi Jan 2013 #8
madfloridian Jan 2013 #9
hay rick Jan 2013 #13
emsimon33 Jan 2013 #11
madfloridian Jan 2013 #18
xchrom Jan 2013 #14
hay rick Jan 2013 #16
madfloridian Jan 2013 #21
FloriTexan Jan 2013 #17
madfloridian Jan 2013 #19
sulphurdunn Jan 2013 #20
madfloridian Jan 2013 #22
hay rick Jan 2013 #23
madfloridian Jan 2013 #24

Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 01:13 AM

1. k&r

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 01:26 AM

2. ....

Appreciated.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 08:16 AM

12. morning kick! :)

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #12)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:16 AM

15. Need those around here.

For sure.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 01:31 AM

3. Ms Katie's ramblings is a great blog

It is true in my experience as well. Last year, two years before I planned to retire, I was meeting for an evaluation with my Principal. As I listened to him talk I just knew I couldn't do it. I retired right there. I had one of the best years ever with my special education kids, but I couldn't do what the administration was planning for the next year. I did get an excellent rating so it wasn't that I was being driven out, I just didn't agree that where he was going with education was somewhere I could tolerate.

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Response to erinlough (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 01:36 AM

4. I left also before I started getting poor ratings.

I just knew I could NOT keep my mouth shut. Those of us who were outspoken were shunned in the halls and elsewhere so the others could keep on her good side.

I knew it was time to go. My evaluations had not suffered yet, so I went.

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Response to erinlough (Reply #3)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 01:51 AM

5. This sounds too familiar

 

In our case it was budget cuts that did away with reading specialists, special ed teachers, librarians, nurses. Then administrators and board members accused the remaining staff of not caring about kids. I left just to stay sane.

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Response to reteachinwi (Reply #5)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 02:33 AM

10. Doing away with everything but drill and testing.

Training for the business world. I need to see the transcript, but I think Obama mentioned preparing for the world of business as a goal.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 01:52 AM

6. there's something about these stories that reminds me of people's stories in 'they thought they

 

were free,' a book about the gradual encroachment of the 'nazi principle' into german life during the 30s in germany.

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head...

"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty...

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have."

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/511928.html


principiis obsta (et respice finem): resist the beginnings (and consider the end)

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 02:01 AM

7. "To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it..."

That paragraph is powerful. That book is powerful. I have read most of it by excerpts on the internet.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 02:08 AM

8. We went through a decade of budget cuts

 

and then Gov. Walker busted our union. Many we're shocked and unsure about what it meant (in spite of a $7000 to $10000 pay cut). The community (even some former teachers) supported it more or less as they got a few hundred dollars in property tax relief. Those of us active in our local had something like PTSD, while others said to my face that it wouldn't be that bad. It's hard to write more and relive it.

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Response to reteachinwi (Reply #8)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 02:13 AM

9. And Rick Scott is doing much harm here in FL

It is hard to write and think about it. It hurts.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 08:43 AM

13. Yes, this describes our situation.

Thanks for the post and link.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 03:40 AM

11. Yeah! I so missed your great insights and commentaries regarding education

I have been out of the country for several months and have had limited Internet access. It was like Christmas all over again when I happened across your post. Thank you for coming over.

One of the great disappointments I have had with Obama is the path he has taken for education. Duncan is a terrible choice for Sec. of Education. What is happening to education in this country is a crime.

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Response to emsimon33 (Reply #11)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 12:24 PM

18. And Arne already said he will continue these policies this term.

He must know by now exactly what he is doing. He just doesn't care. It's the goal. Thanks for the kind words.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:01 AM

14. du rec. nt

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:25 AM

16. The public sector.

I am not a teacher. I was a mailman until I retired last year. Still, the stories I read about what is happening in education today resonate with me personally because they track my experience over the last 35 years with the Postal Service. During that time, I witnessed a seismic shift in workplace conditions.

The macro-climate shifts in conditions during this time should be obvious to every working person. Republicans don't bother to hide their hostility to labor unions and working people and Democrats offer the alternative of indifference to their interests. Reagan gave us PATCO, Clinton signed NAFTA, and Obama pretended Madison, Wisconsin was not on the map. Right-to-work laws spread like wildfire and union membership declined precipitously. Micro-climate shifts in working conditions are local and much more personal. The details vary, but the bottom line is predictable- more stress and abuse in the workplace.

My awareness of the changes was brought into focus by my experiences as a shop steward. I was a steward for NALC early in my career. Our local merged with a larger local and I remained active in the union, but not as a steward. After an almost 20-year hiatus, I was drafted to be a steward again for the last two and a half years of my career.

The second tour was a nightmare. In my earlier years, contract grievances were rare and were usually the result of foolish or impulsive behavior on the part of a single manager. Resolving them was generally straightforward. The second time around, contract violations were routine, almost daily occurrences, and were largely driven by management policies put in place by higher-ups. The new grievance procedure was also more cumbersome, requiring much more documentation and therefore, preparation time. The sheer volume of violations forced me to pick and choose which ones to pursue- and which ones to ignore. It became a complaint-driven process.

Worse than the never-ending contract violations was management's constant resort to discipline. Our workplace was all stick and no carrot. Discipline was supposed to be corrective, not punitive. In fact, it was used to intimidate. Because the Postal Service has done very little hiring in recent years, most of my carriers were proven veterans with 20, 30, and 40 years of experience. USPS tried to fire 10 of my 40 carriers- one at a time. This tended to be an arduous affair as the Postal Service had to go through the steps of "progressive discipline" - typically- official discussion, letter of warning, 1-week paper suspension, 2-week paper suspension, and then removal. The "violations" could be unrelated and trivial. Typical violations: driving without a seat belt, leaving the vehicle unlocked, missing an express mail deadline, or calling out sick once and being 6 minutes late twice during a quarter ("irregular attendance").

They never were able to fire any of my carriers, but the constant conflict took its toll- on me and them. I would wake up in the middle of the night- angry- and then not be able to get back to sleep. And even though nobody got fired, none of the carriers wanted to be put in that vulnerable position. They tolerated verbal abuse and contract violations every day without complaint rather than risk retribution.

I sympathize with teachers who are confronting the dystopian corporate-dominated environment in education. Likewise, postal employees face a much harsher and less secure future than I experienced. In both cases, much of the deterioration is a function of public policy. Education has been battered by NCLB , RTTT, and stagnant funding. The Postal Service was sabotaged by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. Our political class does not have faith in public services. The result appears to be self-fulfilling prophecy.







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Response to hay rick (Reply #16)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 03:36 PM

21. Excellent post.

What they have done to the postal service and to the carriers is appalling.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:37 AM

17. This struck me...

"Nevermind if you are a phenomenal teacher, nevermind if you have legitimate disagreements, nevermind if you have tenure and have a proven track record of excellence. The only way disagreements are resolved in CPS is to punish and fire."


I am not a teacher but this could be my job now as well. Just sit there and be quiet, and above all, don't rock the boat. This attitude seems pervasive in our society.

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Response to FloriTexan (Reply #17)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 01:30 PM

19. Exactly. No rocking of the boat.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 02:01 PM

20. k&R

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #20)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 05:35 PM

22. ....

and thanks for the rec.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 07:12 PM

23. "The inauguration is done now."

Four more years of Arne Duncan. So this is what victory feels like...

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Response to hay rick (Reply #23)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 07:33 PM

24. He's doing such harm to public education.

Another 4 years is really going to hurt.

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