Wednesday, July 09, 2008

My Friend

Why do administrators set us up to fail? I ask this question because my friend is losing her teaching job. She is a Spanish teacher and works in a charter school. She signed her contract and went on summer vacation secure in the idea she'd be working in the Fall. On the last day of June she got call from the principal. "Sorry, Ms. Clemente, we're going to be moving in a different direction with Spanish. It's not you, it's the school. We need the Spanish to be more of the heart and soul of our program and we just weren't feeling your commitment." My friend said, "What?" That was it. She'd had glowing observations for all of her work. No problems or letters in her file. How can you fight "we weren't feeling your commitment?"

She had worked so hard on getting her students to learn. She'd done programs showcasing the Spanish for parent nights and the end of the year celebrations. She'd done much of it on her own because only the vaguest of guidelines were given by the administration. (#1 way administrators set us up.) Not one of the administrators came to any of the programs but the programs were a way of judging her "commitment." (#2 set up) She was given practically no materials (textbooks, paper, supplies) yet was expected to teach 400 kids from a mobile Spanish cart. (#3 set up)

I feel so sad for my friend. She made her own materials, set up programs, did everything without any help, taught 400 students mostly out of her own ingenuity and pocket. Now she's done. She wasn't "committed." They should commit some of these insane principals.

All teachers feel this sense of being set up from time to time and have seen it happen to others. Administrators pick people to ruin and everyone knows it. We watch as it happens. The blood is in the water from day one and no one steps in to help the person. We know they're a goner. I've had it happen to me and seen it happen. Neither way is good. One way you're death on a stick and the other way you're a coward. At least with the union you have someone to back you up. My charter school friend has nothing. She will collect unemployment but that's it. Another one bites the dust as an administrator laughs. This is a tough profession. Definitely not for the weak.

By the way, Charter schools are just a way to break unions and suck public money into private hands. That's all they are. Don't be fooled. Smart business people saw money they wanted and couldn't get. They manipulated the system until they got it. The teachers and students are just a cover to hide their money grab. Someday soon this won't be just Rookie Schoolteacher blogging, this will be on the cover of the NY Times. Follow the money.