A Rant: Desperate People?byH20wader©
Forgive me. There is no editor for this story. One did volunteer but never returned my email to her. Life is that way.
This is a true happening. I was there for all of it.
The desperate people
Today I attended a job fair for teachers. It was my old employer and it had been 18 months since I quit. The fair was at my old school where a short time ago I was one of four Social Studies Teachers. The school was a middle and high school combined. It has about 500 students. There is a separate wing for the 500 student elementary school. It is one of the older Charter Schools in Michigan.
First a definition of a Charter school.
A charter schools is a publicly funded (by the state) Public Academy. There is no tuition allowed to be levied against the parents. It is a school of choice. Parents select to send their children to the Charter School. If there are more student registered than the school can handle, a lottery will determine who can attend classes. In Michigan the amount of public funds that can be used is the equal amount given to the regular school in the same district. For the Charter School in question there is some 6300 dollars per student per school year
Like all schools there are students, teachers, custodians, security personnel, and administrators. Since the school is large, there is a Principal, an Assistant Principal, three office staffers. Basically there are about 25 students per teacher but that can vary up to as many as 45 students before all the teachers are hired in. my classes when I last work was 30 students in each of my 6 classes.
Now, the money. 1000 students X 6300 =6,300,000. Sounds like a lot right? But it isn't. Unlike Regular Public Schools the Charter School must buy or lease and maintain the building. There no taxes to be voted to build schools or add computers or networks. Building do not come cheap. Not with several charter schools looking for a home. So there is lease payments or a mortgage to contend with.
There is also the wages for the teachers. Most Charter Schools cannot match the salary of Regular Public Schools. So the salaries runs from 50% to 75% of the Regular Public Schools. Therefore the teachers in the Charter Schools are not the ones hired by the Regular Public Schools. Which means all the selected teachers end up in the Regular Public Schools. Charter Schools gets the leftovers. Not saying the leftovers are poor teachers, but they were not selected by the Regular Public Schools.
Now hopefully I have said enough about the differences between the Regular Public Schools and the Charter Schools.
The job fair was on a Tuesday from 9 AM to 1 PM. I was there at the 9 AM starting time. I expected several other teachers who had not been hired by the Regular Public Schools to be there also. I was the second to sign in. I was there for 45 minutes and counted a total of 5 people signing to apply for the positions.
I filled out a short answer sheet. Explain how you would manage your class. What research in the teaching field interests you the most. Name 5 things you will do in your classes. Define the important relationships in the teaching profession. Explain the importance of Attitude vs. Intellect in education. And more of the same.
I was interviewed by the Assistant Superintendent of the Charter Schools. There are several Charter Schools owned by the private company that operates the Charter Schools in question. A pleasant lady. I answered her questions and ask a few of my own. She took the paperwork and put it in order and wished me a nice day.
This teacher fair happened at the end of the first making period of 10 weeks. This mean that for the first 10 weeks the school was using substitutes. Which puts all the new hires behind by that 10 weeks. Why the 10 week delay?
Michigan allowed new charter schools to hire non-certified teachers. Time was given for these non-certified people to become certified. But they did not make it in time or not at all. The Charter Schools did not check on the progress of these people and was caught short. When the time for ONLY certified teachers to teach the classes several teachers had to be let go as unqualified. Again there was no check on the non-certified people to see where they were in the process to become certified. No one looked ahead to the coming shortage of teachers. I do not know if the person responsible for this lack of oversight was fired. It seems to me that several people should have in marched out of the headquarters with notices to quit the building at once.
So that explains why the Charter Schools was seeking well qualified teachers (read certified).
So, where were the teachers to apply for the several positions. Michigan is in financial trouble. While the state has not cut deeply in the state payments to the school it has been cut. There are real layoffs across the state. Next, Charter Schools has pulled students from the poorer districts and since the state payments follow the students, the poorer district become poorer and lay off teachers. And also adds students to even more crowded classrooms. This pushes more parents to seek other schools and fuels the increase in CS. Why does the laid off teachers not apply to the Charter School? Two reasons. They are all Union Teachers. And the pay difference is hard to swallow.
I do not know if I will be a new hire or not at the present time, but I have a good chance.
Why do I want to return to this Charter School?
I miss the students. Even the assholes. The players. The troublemakers. I especially miss the students who are there for an education. The hard workers. The ones who turn in ALL or most the homework. The one who take notes in class and study the notes for each test. The good students who are out numbered 3 to 1 by the others. I feel for all of the students but these that work their butts off for a good grade I admire, respect, and love.
I do try hard to encourage the party of the first part to try harder. To turn in homework to read, to turn in decent papers. Often (read almost always) my encouragement falls on deaf ears.
Am I a good teacher? I will admit to be mediocre. I try hard but I cannot reach all of my students. Am I a failure at my chosen profession? I see that most of the teachers who demand performance in the same boat with me.
So what do I think is the solution? Parents must take the responsibility for the students education. Check on the home work, volunteer at the school, check on progress, and find ways (with the teacher's and the school's help) for summer reading programs. To find and assist out-of-school trips. To insure that the student is in school and on time every day. To be a real parent. To take the needed time to make sure that the student is getting the education needed for the coming challenges.
The ravings of a lunatic. A rant. Truthful.
Lay on MacDuff and damned be he who says hold enough.
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