Vocation: Professional Desk Warmer
Local teacher Cynthia Brickey is as mad as hell, and she’s not going to take it anymore. If the taxpayers are going to blame her and other teachers for the performance of all of her students, she wants to know what she should do with her desk warmers.
I’ve pep-talked, pleaded, cajoled, called home, sent them to detention — nothing works. Sometimes I wonder if they come to school just to hang out with their friends. Here we are in the last weeks of school and these desk warmers all have a 40% or lower in my class. A few are in single digits. …
What do you think I should try? I figure you, the readers, are educated and interested in issues that affect you. Our state now pays more than 40% of its budget for education. What went so wrong?
Should I concentrate on the “good” kids who are doing the work and give them all my attention? I have some fabulous kids this year: four sections of sophomore English and one section of junior/senior world literature.
Should I just forget about the desk warmers/oxygen-deprivation machines? What do you, the taxpayers, think I should do? I know if I have this problem, then all high school teachers must have the same problem.
Parents aren’t much help with her desk warmers.
I have some parents who show no interest at all in their children’s failures. When I call home, they just throw up their hands, “What are you gonna do? They’re kids.” Other parents blame me for their kids’ failure to do any work at all. Educational think tanks have actually said, “If kids don’t do their homework, it’s because it’s not meaningful.”
Meaningful? How many things in life are meaningless, but we do them because we have to — like cleaning toilets, changing poopy diapers and paying taxes? Some parents think if their child comes to school, that should be enough. I had one parent write me this note: “He belongs to you people all day. At 3 p.m., his time belongs to me.” Uh, OK.
I think she confuses “meaningless” with “tedious, boring and unpleasant,” but that’s a matter of semantics. The context makes her point clear: Life requires unpleasantness, and so it helps to develop a tolerance.
Education has spent the past 20 years trying to get every kid to go to college. A lot of kids go for six weeks. After the first midterm, they drop out. It’s too much like work. They never belonged there in the first place. Example: Many junior colleges now have two levels of English labs the student must take and pass before the student is eligible for English 1A.
Work. That’s where I believe these oxygen-deprivation machines belong, at work. The ODMs (not my expression, my science colleague’s) belong at work. We finally got a grant … to improve our auto shop — fantastic! What about all the other non-college professions? Machinists, construction, heating and air-conditioning, plumbing, cement design, interior/exterior painting, esthetics, culinary, health care. The list is endless.
Why aren’t we preparing these dropouts for work and not welfare? In some inner cities like Baltimore, the high school graduation rate is 30%. That’s deplorable.
What do the taxpayers want us to do? I believe they have the answer, not us.
She finishes by asking for feedback, but not before blaming families and parents for students’ failure. Classy.
I don’t disagree that the family life can affect the academic success of students, ending the letter like that will invoke the wrong kind of reaction.
What’s the role of ROP education, and vocational electives? Is it wrong to encourage students to go to college at the expense of the unmotivated?