Saturday, January 24, 2009

Relief For My Backed Up Craw

I once again need to get something out of my craw. It's large and has been annoying me for some time. I'll begin by describing one representative situation and then working into a meta conversation.

Our semester began on January 6th. On that day, I met a whole new group of students for the first time. January 9th was Pumpkin's last day of class until the end of February. She is leaving to have her baby. The next morning, I have an email in my box asking me to prepare work for Pumpkin. Now, they don't want this work all at once, but I am being asked to prepare work for her for ALL SEVEN WEEKS OF HER ABSENCE.

Are. You. Serious?

I asked a few people if I really was hearing correctly. I asked her asst principal and her counselor if I was really supposed to supply this child with a textbook and page numbers and expect that those assignments would be equivilant to actually attending class. Their reaction was baffling.

"Yeah, just give her the work." Like the entire experience of life in my classroom can be boiled down to a worksheet.

This struggle affixed to my craw and festered. I took my plight to our next Principal's advisory committee meeting and the story was met with similar outrage by the other teachers in attendance. My head principal got it also. Oddly, the counselor just sat there slackjawed, completely failing to see the problem here.

Here in the Great State of Oklahoma, the class of 2012 must pass four of seven End of Instruction exams in order to graduate high school. Schools must jump through their buttholes to document that Pumpkin and those like her are given every bit of instruction and every possible chance to succeed. However (and I discovered this after a long hard read of State law regarding education), we have no State attendance requirements. So, Oklahoma, what you're saying is that I could be sued for failing to educate a child who never bothered to show up in my classroom? Really???

My first steps to relieve my pain over this sitation is to finally answer the emails from the counseling office. I assembled work for Pumpkin with the following note...
Attached is another couple of week’s worth of work for Pumpkin. I apologize
for the wait, but it is impossible to prepare English II as a correspondence
course. The work attached is not an equivalent for the work done in class,
despite my real and honest effort to give your student an equivalent
experience. Please be aware that I am unsure if Pumpkin will be prepared
for her End of Instruction exam by simply completing bookwork.

Also, I am happy to schedule a time for your student to make up
the test over the three stories she was previously assigned. I will cover
details of the stories as well as the literary elements of plot, mood, and

Completion of this work will bring Pumpkin relatively up to date
and I will start working now on the next batch of work. Thank you for
understanding my difficult position, I am concerned that the textbook simply
can’t provide all the learning we’ve done in class.

luv and hearts--
Ms Educat

...and for the larger problem, I am on this, friends. I am all up in this situation. I'm making plans to speak with State legislators about this. My first approach will to listen, a sort of a "help me understand" approach. In fact, is there any insight you have to this situation? After that, we start talking legislation. Ms Educat is going to the Capitol.

Thank you, and watch your step as you walk away. All that stuff from my craw is lying around on the floor.


"Ms. Cornelius" said...

Here's the problem: the counselors and the APs absolutely believe that all you do is hand out worksheets and read from the book to your little lovies because....

They themselves taught that way and got the hell out of the classroom before they went stark raving mad and before inflicting incalculable damage on two entire generations of students, for which we are all thankful, dear God, and could you please pass the gravy?

Now they are just going to inflict incalculable craw-stuffing on you, for which the gravy is meant to be a help. Everything goes down better with gravy.

Because these people are never NEVER going to get it.

Nina said...

Wow, I wouldn't have had a clue about this, especially not from the attitude at my son's H.S. Hmm, so I could sue them? ;-)

You go, girl. You sound like the right person with the fire and the approach to get something started with this.

Debor said...

You go girl! At my elementary school, we have always gotten heartburn when we've received notes asking for two weeks worth of work for little Prince because he will be on a cruise the month prior to state testing.

We've always wondered what exactly Little Prince's parents thought we did all day. Did they think we just assigned pages, passed out worksheets and wished them all good luck? I love the look on the moms' faces when I tell them I spend 90 minutes on reading workshop and I assess them through conferences, so I can't really give them any reading work, they won't have the skills I'll be teaching in class to do the math assignments, and the Science unit is one we are researching online in class. Here's the web sites.

Then I remind them that we will be spending a fair amount of time learning test taking skills and procedures, including how to answer extended response questions. Then they realize their child will be coming back to take a high stakes test fresh from vacation. Somehow this did not into the equation when they were getting good deals on cruises last fall. Sigh...

Sorry. My own craw feels much better now, too.

Jennifer said...

I feel your pain. My husband and I both teach in this wonderful state too and he's been told that there will be no afterschool activities are sports during testing which in his JH takes up three full weeks in APRIL! April? When there are six weeks fo school left. when every spring sports does stuff every day of the month. WOW! Why can't we send these kids to a testing center during the summer to prove they've learned what we tried to teach them and then we can teach all year long you know 180 days before high stakes testing instead of 120 or so. Now I'm listening to Frosty Troy and getting mad all over again.

Rachel said...

ugh, I feel your pain. I teach in a different state, but our homebound program is - similarly - a joke. We are supposed to put together readings & worksheets to hand-off to another "teacher." I'm not sure from whence these homebound "teachers" spring forth, but there is actually no real educational requirements for them. I don't think they even need a college degree. From what I have heard, some of them don't even actually give the work to the students...they have them do coloring.

Cheers to you for taking a stand!

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