Ode to the School Year

 Ode to the School Year

By Beth Hanning

I know there are a lot of teacher haters out there, but seriously, teaching is tough. I know we get a lot of time off, but if we did not, more teachers would leave than are currently leaving. If you pay attention to teacher news, and even teacher memes, one such problem is parents. When I was a child in St. Camillus, I returned home one afternoon and told my mom, “Mrs. Dwyer yelled at me for no reason.” My mother gently baited me, asking me what happened. I told her I was just turning around, and she yelled at me. My mother snapped, and said, “Well, why were you turning around? Keep your eyes forward and do not turn around.” I always remembered this and never told my mother of a teacher’s unfair treatment again.

I always think of this story when parents often turn things around. Now, to let you know what type of teacher I am, I am a huge fan of communication. I call and email parents quite often. If I have an assignment due on Friday, whoever did not submit gets an email or a call. I also post through the online system messages regarding all upcoming homework, quizzes, projects and exams. There are no surprises on report card day. So, why, in May, are some parents complaining and asking me, “What did you do to help my child?” What did I do? What did you do? Do you have the online messaging system on your phone (I am sure many have Facebook and Instagram). Were you not aware of every due date, quiz and exam?

Another problem is politicians who influence the policies that have taken away accountability in schools.

One policy that has become a huge issue is attendance. About half of New York City school students are chronically absent! Yet, we have no rules in place that say if they miss a certain amount of school that they fail. We also do not have a seat time requirement for them to take a Regents Exam. How can you not come to school all year and sit for a Regents? Well, it happens. And teachers are graded on the pass rates of these students. Come on, help us out a little bit. I have seen many posts that children are getting sicker since Covid. I have said in previous columns, kids are quite honest with me why they missed school. Some good ones are “I got stung by a bee,” and “My sister had a mole removed.” Not to mention the children who miss months of school for family emergencies.

Many teachers do not care about summers or vacation time; they are leaving in droves. Many people think it is since the pandemic, but it actually started before the pandemic. In New York state, college students applying to education programs has dropped 50% since 2009. Many people think it is because of the pay scale. In New York City, the pay is not terrible. If the new UFT contract passes, starting teachers could make $71k a year. That has just about doubled since I started my career.

Obviously, me personally, I do not think it is the money. I think it is the constant, “What did you do?” mentality that has me perplexed. I hope that in the next few years, the politicians realize that many things they have instituted in the school system are, in fact, failing students.

Have a great summer, all of my friends who work in the schools. Relax and recharge those batteries.


Rockaway Stuff

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