Thursday, November 11, 2010
Today is the day set aside to honor the men and women who serve or have served in our armed forces. I do my best to honor them, while at the same time abhorring war. And I also honor those who wait at home for them, their loved ones who give up so much. "They also serve who only stand and wait." Veteran's Day is a good time to go shopping, as I can attest to, having just come from the grocery store. Whew! However it's our nation's teachers I am most concerned about right now. They stand on the front lines too, serving our country, and it seems like now nobody has their back. With all of the hoopla over the movie Waiting For Superman, we are casting a wide net to say that our schools are broken and our teachers are failing. I don't know what it's like in the inner city schools of New York or Washington, DC, but I do know what teachers deal with in a suburban elementary school with a high rate of poverty and and a high percentage of foreign born, ESL students. I heard recently a statistic claiming that our schools have a 7 to one ratio of students to adults. I don't know where this is, or who they're counting in the adult category, but our class size is 25 to 30. I have some Facebook friends who are former colleagues in my school. I have picked up an increased level of stress from them in their on-line chatter. I messaged one of them privately. Yes, indeed, she responded, you read it correctly. New curriculum, new principal, new building to move into mid-year, more pressure to perform, but no more sense of direction, very little support with student discipline, and a sense of always being watched and judged with a critical eye; all of these added to a very difficult demographic, are causing stress and low moral. It's creating a duck-and-cover attitude. Our teachers are veterans of a different sort, but every bit as important to our nation, and they are under fire.