Monday, October 08, 2012

Why Teachers Quit.

My district, under some truly delusional actions by the state of Texas, has implemented a program known as total inclusion. No pull outs, no special classes, no content mastery or small group teaching for the kids who struggle to function. Instead general ed teachers are supposed to magically develop the skills to intuitively know how to address multiple IEP mandates for multiple children within a regular classroom setting. To some, this may sound like insanity, but to many this is the endgame for special education wherein teachers are simply observers and record keepers. The sad thing is, I'm a good teacher. I find kids who have talent and I get them to where they need to be. I write recommendation letter, I find college sponsors, I push them, I reward them-which last time I heard is what a teacher is supposed to do. But the New Regime, a rather aggressive and arrogant movement led by Special Ed teachers who see general ed teachers as The Enemy, seem intent on making our lives more complex than it should be.

First, there is the placement itself. A student with mild challenges can be easily incorporated into a regular class with support. That means that the general ed teacher is informed-FULLY-and that care is taken to place the student into a class where his or her numbers won't tip the apple cart. But what is happening is that because of scheduling special core classes for these groups, a full third of some classes hold severely disabled students in a regular classroom. That in itself creates a situation where the teacher must pay due to the special ed student first leaving the regular students to their own devices. Then you have 504's, BIP's and other special designations. We have to file no less than five and sometimes as many as nine pieces of paper every single week PER STUDENT, which with ten students results in 90 pieces of paper be handled. Today the head of Special Ed celebrated all the necessary data we are generating. What she ignores is that in order to do this, many teachers are dumbing down programs, ignoring advanced students and diluting rigor in programs.

Second, there is the issue of classroom management. I am one of those teachers who rarely if ever sends students to the principal. Generally speaking, special ed students aren't referred for behavioral problems. But when you have a situation where you have autistic spectrum kids who can be set off by too bright a light, or a word or an emotionally disturbed student who likes to openly rant over ways to attack people it makes it hard to encourage students to stay in an elective program. when they view it as a holding area for kids who cannot do anything else.I spent half an hour on Friday trying to convince an amazingly talented sophomore to stay in art after she was verbally assaulted by an emotionally disturbed student. My fear is that the talented students will leave and my classes truly will little more than a place to put every problem, every kid who fights, every kid with issues.

I have five years until I can retire. Five years. That's 900 days of teaching. What's sad is I am good at what I do. I had more kids get 5's on their AP portfolios that the rest of the district combined. I have more kids taking AP than any other school. I have more kids in elite art schools or in art programs in major universities than any other teacher in the district. That is what I have always thought I was supposed to do-make kids successful. And while I am good at finding those kids who never realized they had talent, the stark reality is that someone who can't move their arms, cannot read, cannot write, cannot talk, is probably not destined for anything beyond a very limited life. I want to make their lives pleasant, but not at the cost of everyone else. After today, I feel broken. I feel that all my work is simply not worth it. I believe that everything I have done to build up the program has been nothing more than a joke.

I wish I felt differently. I wish I could feel more hopeful. But this is what the feelgood policies of the current crop of educational elites and the politicians of the Left has done to the once noble idea of a free public education. I hope my children will be able to afford decent private schools for their kids. It's over.

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