This may seem only tangentially related to MCAS or education ‘policy’, but I firmly believe that this issue is at the heart of our education system.
Go ahead, try to measure how well I do by standardized tests. It’s failed methodology, but that train is racing down the tracks even if it smashes up the public education system (aka, education for the working and middle classes). Deval was already ordered the construction of a database on how my students do on those tests, but I want something back.
I want parents who invest as much as me.
I will not be held responsible for test scores for a student who doesn’t have an adult at their house at night.
I will not be held responsible for test scores for a student whose parents call the school clearly inebriated.
I will not be held responsible for test scores for a student whose parent moves every 8 months searching for a spouse.
I will not be held responsible for test scores for a student who has not received basic innoculations, and contracts a disease common to third world countries.
I will not be held responsible for test scores for a student whose parent looks at me in the eye and tells me they think it’s okay if their child cheats.
I will not be held responsible for test scores for a student whose parents decide to ignore doctors’ advice, and over-, under-, or simply refuse to medicate their child.
In short, I will teach these children. I will talk to them about their work in my class, their work in other classes, their social lives, their home life — whatever they need to talk about. I will care for these children and protect them as best I can. If the day comes, I wouldn’t hesitate to take a bullet for these kids.
I have accepted that in my late twenties I am the closest thing some of these kids have to a father figure. I think that’s sad, but true and I accept it. I have even gotten to the point where I accept that these kids’ actual parents (some of whom are my age) will ask me for parenting advice. My cactus is dying on the windowsill, but I should tell them how to raise their children.
But don’t any fatuous ignoramus scoring cheap points in a speech dare tell me that I am a bad teacher because I teach these kids. Any conservative stalking horse who wants to privatize education like they’ve privatized the military better not blame me for staying in a town for teaching kids who face these challenges. These parasitic blockheads who remember school as a place of “spitball fights” and “duck and cover” would be advised to lurch into a neighborhood school (provided their CORI comes back clean) and take a good look around. Oh, and bring your own pen to write with — all the staff there does as well. Half of them buy the paper you’ll be writing on.
For “Teacher Appreciation Day”, I got a new student (with 5 weeks left in the year), with an hour’s warning that she was joining my class. The parents and administration ignored the day. Fine. Not why I do the job in any place, that kind of stuff. All I want is families who care about their own kids.
To all those reading this who’ve been teachers, who were in a classroom, on a battlefield, on a sports field, in a boardroom, I say thank you.
To all the teachers that still care every day, thank you for joining me in one of the few daily battles that still count.