Accountability, Behavior/Discipline

Helpless and Hopeless

Dear JCPS,

I briefly reviewed the results of the recent audit. It seems that the documents I read about the audit, and nearly every other document about or by JCPS, rarely address real-life problems faced by students and teachers…issues that the general public are rarely aware of. Here are a few:

  • Students who are supposed to be receiving counseling and mental health services are not getting their needs met. There are too many students needing too many services and the 1 mental health counselor in the school can’t possibly meet the demand. Kids are falling through the cracks.
  • Teachers can’t teach. Kids can’t learn. The district has created an atmosphere that inundates teachers and other school staff with an unimaginable amount of paperwork, meetings, number crunching and data, data, data. In moderation, these are all great and necessary. But it’s primarily bullshit. These mandates keep teachers so stressed out with deadline after deadline. Paperwork has truly become a part-time job.
  • West End schools are failing. JCPS IS a disaster. Kids need more help. Teachers need more help. Students in these schools experience trauma on a daily basis, yet programs, policies and promises never live up to the hype – they never produce results because the people making the decisions are those who have worked hard to climb the ladder and ‘get out of the classroom’. Teachers are under such scrutiny. More and more demands are placed on teachers’ very limited time. We are expected to teach cookie-cutter, scripted lessons to students who act out, due to trauma, in the way of fighting, throwing objects, kicking chairs, destroying property – crying out for help. Clearly, they need MORE help. Clearly, they are living a trauma-based life. THEY NEED MORE. COOKIE-CUTTER, DISTRICT approaches DON’T WORK. We know what’s waiting for our students of poverty. Why not offer real interventions that could change the trajectory of their lives? Why not ask teachers what help THEY need to better serve their students? Does the district even care?
  • Many principals push all the district mandates without thinking about the specific population of students they are serving; without thinking about all the demands that are placed on teachers and how hard they work day in and day out. Everyone in education it seems touts “students come first.” This is such crap. Nothing is further from the truth in my opinion. It should be, “covering our butts” comes first. The people who know their students best, are rarely asked what they need to help their kids. And even if you were asked, you couldn’t tell the truth for fear of retribution. It’s one way – the district’s – or the highway.
  • Here at JCPS, there’s one way to teach. If kids can’t recite the standard they are learning, then you’re an ineffective teacher. If the wording of the learning objective is misstated, uh-oh. If you’re not using the script of the “research-based” brand-new program we’re shoving down your throat, whoops. I’m not a teacher. I’m a robot. My poor kids.
  • PLC’s are exhausting. Nobody likes them. Just another avenue for administration to regurgitate what the district erroneously considers “best practices.” PLCs are the epitome of number-crunching, uber-focus on data, more tracking, more paperwork, more of “you’re shit teachers and you’re not doing it the way we believe it’s right.”
  • BULLYING IS AN ISSUE! Some administrators either don’t know how to handle it, don’t believe they can change it, or they completely disregard it on a systemic level. If only parents knew! It’s ridiculous.
  • PGES is another way JCPS covers their butt. It’s more paperwork. It’s more deadlines. It’s a joke.
  • Teachers work hard and put in very long hours, often to the detriment of their family-life, health, etc. They love their students. They truly don’t stop when the bell rings. I would ask that the district and admin cut us some slack, for crying out loud. Give us a voice. Let us teach!

How in the world did we get to where we are in education today? Prior to the last 4 or 5 years, I felt I was truly able to teach and meet the needs of my kids. Not sure if it was the initiation of Common Core or the beginning of Hargens rule. Regardless, I am so frustrated and I feel helpless and hopeless. It’s time to REALLY start putting our kids AND teachers first.

A JCPS Teacher

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