I sold my soul to the company store

Let me start by saying I think education is woefully and embarrassingly under funded. Now are their areas where I think we should tighten up and money is wasted? Yes. Though I also believe that at the same time there are so many needs not being met and one of those areas is teacher’s salary. I know many teachers that are literally paycheck to pay check living in fear of a child’s illness, a car breaking down or some other common occurrence. I think teachers should all receive substantial raises while at the same time society sheepishly says, we’re sorry it took so long. Except for those brave men and women who keep us safe I don’t think there is a more important, vital and special job than teaching. So with all that being said why do I feel so dirty about the huge raise, at least seven thousand and possibly as much as eighteen thousand dollars, that I just received? Why do I feel like I sold my soul to the company store?

My school and several others in the area received what is called a School Improvement Grant (SIG). It’s basically money given to struggling schools and the very first example of just throwing money at education that I have seen. The biggest change is the school day is going to be extended for forty-five minutes so students can have what they are calling a remediation or enrichment period added to their schedule, though if it were called f-cat prep that might be more honest. I asked if the kids would be getting credit for that class and nobody could give me a straight answer. Teachers and rightfully so will be paid for this extra work.

Teachers will also be given a signing bonus if they commit for three years. Teachers will be paid for as many as ninety hours of professional development, teachers will be paid to work one mandatory Saturday a month and teachers will also be eligible for performance pay. Doesn’t sound bad right? We work, we’re pay, that’s how things should be, unfortunately the problem is two fold.

The first is we’re not going to change the way we do things. I get it that reasonable people can look at a problem and have different solutions but at the same time I don’t get how any reasonable person can look at our current education system and think we’re doing it the right way. Like a child refusing to admit they are wrong even when caught with their hand in the cookie jar the powers-that-be seem bound and determined to stay the course, this despite the fact our current system leaves so many kids behind. It also means universal board configurations, word walls, massive data notebooks, that so many teachers make just to appease their administrations, teaching kids that want to drive trucks algebra II, teaching just to the test, the mistreatment or our disabled children and so many other slights, mistreatments and injustices are going to continue to be the way we do things, par for the course.

Then teachers at other schools, even other turn around schools where they will be required to do the same work as the teachers at my school won’t be eligible for all the additional pay. You should have seen it folks we were called into a meeting and I felt like a team of used car salesmen we’re trying to sell me that bright sedan with all the extras while at the same time telling me I wasn’t allowed to look under the hood. We were all given the option to opt out and transfer to another school. There was one caveat however. The school we could transfer to would be another turn around school where we would be required to do all the additional work but there we wouldn’t be paid for it. Talk about a choice not being a choice. So now the DCPS system is making distinction between teachers, some of us will be haves but others will be have-nots.

Like I said above I can use the money and I think teachers all teachers regardless if they are at a turn around school or not deserve more but you know what teachers need even more to do their jobs better? Why it’s the same thing most kids need to learn better too. They need administrations to take discipline seriously. They need then to alter their thoughts on the one size fits all curriculum that we currently have. Teachers need not to over burden teachers with task after task that has at best just a peripheral relationship with education. They need for an end to social promotions and grade scrubbing. They need legislators who have never been in a classroom to stop meddling and finally teachers need to be let teach. It’s really that simple.

A common definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and to expect a different outcome. And that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to do the same thing with just a slight difference, we’re going to throw money at it.

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