Friday, September 11, 2015


I can't do this anymore.
I didn't get into teaching for fame or fortune.
I didn't even get in there to be Teacher of the Year. I always considered those types far more interested in their own welfare than the welfare of those they teach. As hokey as it sounds, I got into teaching because I like kids. And I teach art because in a world that is so often ugly and unfair and art isn't like that. You don't have to be rich to be creative. You don't have to be popular to be good. And I guess I had hoped at some point that teaching art would make the world a little bit better place. I hoped that kids would learn to appreciate what they have and seek to make better those things that are broken.

Yes, I was an optimist.

After today, I simply don't know anymore. I've endured the countless cases of the most disabled kids being parachuted into my most advanced classes and although I've complained, I've survived. I have kids with criminal histories, deviant behavior and even a kid so violent he had to be walked to and from class because he was so delusional that he would believe the very walls were attacking him. But today was the last straw.

I've worked very hard to build an AP program that was both flexible and rigorous. I gave the students projects in much the same way a client hires a graphic designer. They are free to do what they want. The projects are designed to build up their portfolio Breadth. I'm not clueless-many of these project have gotten my students into schools like School of Visual Arts, Kansas City Art Institute, Ringling and Rhode Island School of Design. Yet today an AP student-one who bailed on AP portfolio and our state competition last year, leaving the department stuck paying the fees, accused me of having a class that was holding her back. It seems she wants some sort of "open portfolio" class where all they do is whatever work they feel like doing. My experience with that is you get two kinds of artwork: Utter crap and Nothing. This one page rant went on and one.

My take, after discussing this with other department teachers, the girl's counselor and her AP is to let her go into another class, which is fine by me. In a way I think this may be calling her bluff. She expects me to back down and let her do whatever she wants. Instead I'm essentially of the mind not to kick her out, but to let her go. I understand the only class open that period is Personal PE. I hope she enjoys that.

But on a larger scale, this is a problem that is growing. I don't know if this is a problem with me, the kids , the school or all of the above. From the overweaning burden of testing to the sophomoric level of favoritism (by the faculty no less!) teaching just isn't much fun anymore. It's become a job where status is real, income is nebulous and based on how much you brown nose and the daily grind has become literal. I come to school each day with hope, only more often than not to see it dashed on the rocks. We live in an age when gratitude is a rare commodity. I'm not sitting here waiting with my hands out, but a thank you would be nice now and again.

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