Archive for October, 2012

For those who make remarks about all the vacation time teachers have off, and how it justifies the lousy salaries they receive, think about this:

The average American 9-to-5er leaves the office, and the other part of their lives become front and center.

For the average teacher, however, when the bell rings, his/her day doesn’t end.  On any given day, there may be a faculty meeting scheduled, unpaid working hours.  However, if the teacher is fortunate enough to not have a faculty meeting, she will have to finish grading the work she couldn’t get done during her lunch break, or planning period.  Once that is completed, the teacher must prepare the board for the next day of school, review her lessons, and prepare to go to the long line at the copy machine, of other equally exhausted teachers who will be too busy dropping their kids off in the morning to take the risk that the copy machine might be available.

So they wait.  Some days, the teachers stand there, like recent suspects at the county jail, awaiting their mug shots to be taken.  On a Monday, it is entirely possible that friendly conversations may still ensue, chit chat about the weekend and, “Hey, did you watch the Falcons game yesterday?”

But by Wednesday afternoon, the head is aching, the limbs are weary, and all the teachers want to do is go home.  “Is it Friday yet?” someone will venture to say, only to be met with commiserating grunts.

While they are at the copy machine, another teacher down the hall has been waiting for 35 minutes for the parent to show up for their conference.  He has called twice, only to be told that mom is “on the way.”  He watches the clock ticking, wondering if he can squeeze in a power nap, and if he would have enough time to wake up and wash his face before the parent’s arrival.

Still not being paid.

Mom marches down the hallway towards the classroom with the door open and the teacher at the copy machine summons up a half-smile and a polite “Hello” before thanking God she didn’t have that conference today.

Back in the classroom, mom sat down in the designated chair, and with no apology for her tardiness, she proceeded to list on her fingers the problems, as she saw them.

1. “My son says you don’t like him.”

2. “My son says you give too much homework.”

3. “My son has a 504 plan and you are not meeting his modifications.”

4. “My son hasn’t passed any of his unit tests because he says you can’t teach.”

5. “My son plans on becoming a neurosurgeon and an entrepreneur and you’re not preparing him for his bright future.”

The teacher takes a deep breath, forces himself to don a neutral, and empathetic countenance, and proceeds to explain himself, placate the mother, and escape with both of his testicles still intact.

“I’m sorry to hear that your son feels this way…”  [This was one of the tips in Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; I believe it falls under habit #5.]

“But let me assure you, I have never done anything that would suggest I don’t like your son. In fact, I really like all my students,” the teacher continues.  But mom interrupts with,

“Oh, so are you calling my son a liar?  We’re Christians and we don’t lie!  I raised my son right!” begins the irate mother, who proceeds to take her long, miserable day out on the teacher.

The Parent Conference

What follows is what this teacher wishes he could say to a parent like this:

Ma’am, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to meet with me about your concerns.  It’s always a step in the right direction when we can work together to resolve concerns.  I try my hardest to meet each of my student’s  needs, with the goal always being their success.   Let me try to discuss each of your primary concerns.

I’m sorry your son feels that I don’t like him.  I really enjoy teaching high school seniors.  I love their sense of humor, their frankness, and the discussions we have in this Honors English class.  However, your son doesn’t give me, or himself for that matter, a chance.  He prefers to sit in the back of the room and use his cell phone until I tell him (at least three times each day) to put it away.  He does not take part in any class discussions and the one time I tried to engage him, he gave me the finger and told me to “fuck off.” 

That’s the reason he was written up the first time.

Nevertheless, I sense that your son has a great deal to offer the class if he were to try.  How do I know?  Well, we write in personal journals twice a week, and the one entry he made this year was a very heartfelt and intriguing comment on an article we read about how technology is killing societal interaction. 

Furthermore, this is an Honors class and homework is expected on a regular basis, whether it is at home reading, studying, or writing.   I only assign homework that is vital to the curriculum and/or as part of a major essay.  I also assign homework which will enable revisions of written work.  I try not to assign any homework over the weekend because I know how busy seniors are these days.  

According to my grade book, here’s your printed copy, your son has only completed one assignment out of eighteen tasks.  I even let students to turn it in one day late for partial credit.  Your son has never attempted to use this option either.  

Regarding your son’s 504 plan, it calls for preferential seating towards the front of the class, but he refuses to sit in his assigned seat.  I cannot stop class for ten minutes to deal with this battle, so I have given in and I make the offer at least once or twice each week for him to sit near the front of the room.  It also states he should have the option of a separate setting environment for tests.  I have made arrangements with the person who would give him the test, but he refuses to go.  On test days, he moves his seat closest to the student with the highest average in class, and spends the entire time trying to cheat from her.  I have sent him out of the room to the office twice now for the same offense.  

Perhaps on test days, I can notify you in advance, and YOU can come to school and sit with him as he takes his unit tests.  Maybe then he will not attempt to cheat.  Or maybe, just maybe, he will actually use the study guide I have provided for him a week before the test, instead of leaving it under his desk as he normally does.

Your son may say I can’t teach and he’s right.  There are some days when I can’t teach, because there are so many student disruptions during class.  On an average day, in this honors class, I have to send at least three girls to the office for skirts so short the class can see their thongs, or cell phone use in class, or students who need to use the restroom, or administrative interruptions, intercom interruptions, and other issues.  It is very hard to keep engaging students into a discussion of the role of medieval women in Chaucerian literature when these things occur.  

Finally, I would like to say the same thing to you that I tell my entire classroom full of students.  Life is about more than a text message, more than Twitter updates, more than the cell phone.  They may need to read literature that was written hundreds of years ago, but it will broaden their perspectives, force them to think about the sublime, learn how to debate, see the relationships between people, and communicate effectively.  The literature amounts to the tools that make a person ready to face whatever life has to throw at them, and it is incumbent upon each of them to embrace all of it, just as I did, just as you did as their parent.  

Your son is now 19 years old and it’s time he stood up on his own two feet, and if he has concerns, I would be glad to sit down with him and find the best solution for everyone.  My job is his success, and I can’t do it without him.  

Thank you for your time.

Douglasville, Georgia sits on the outskirts of Atlanta.  It’s a drive of about 15 minutes to reach the city limits.

Douglasville is a typical American suburb, where life revolves around The Mall, parents trudge to Home Depot early Saturday morning to make sure they outfit their manicured lawns with the proper upgrades to outdo their neighbors.  Lovely little girls clad in shorts so skimpy that their ribs are visible, furiously flatiron their long and highlighted blond tresses.  It’s an American oasis.

Well, a few years ago, the Atlanta Housing Authority decided to shut down some of their housing projects.  So, they subsidized Section 8 housing in Douglasville, resulting in an influx of minorities to cushy Douglasville.

Suddenly, teachers started to sweat and administrators had to scramble.  The schools became infested with transient kids from broken homes.  Mini-mansions throughout the town were vandalized, crime increased.  Racial tensions increased as well.

The “lifers” (a.k.a. teachers working until retirement) grumbled about how things “used to be” before ‘they” came to town and they cursed the Section 8 program to the depths of Hell.  The largest subdivision at the time, called Anneewakee, once a winding area of lovely homes, where blond-haired angels frolicked, became overrun by teenagers with pants that revealed boxers, and white tees that were ten sizes too big.

Well, one can only imagine how the school administrators approached the new “problem” of undesirables entering their idyllic pastures.

Something had to be done.  A new and improved athletic program was great, and the booster club revenue a delight, but these “undesirables” must be controlled.  The reputation of the schools could not be jeopardized.

courtesy of marlonandsyreets.com

Naturally, the course of action was heavy-handed in-school suspensions, out of school suspensions, expulsions, and even arrests.  I recall being called to the office to translate for a parent who didn’t speak English, who was in the office crying because her son, who was in ISS AGAIN, had been arrested.  She could not comprehend why her son had been arrested.  After speaking with the police officer, it turns out he was arrested for gang-related paraphernalia and marking gang-related graffiti on school property.  Apparently, while sequestered in the isolation cubicles of ISS, he was bored and began to doodle on the partition.

Although mom insisted he was not involved in a gang, the school continued with the charge and the boy spent two days in the town jail.  The mother’s terror was palpable, but she wilted in fear because she thought if she went to the courthouse on her son’s behalf she would be deported.

The loss of accreditation for nearby Clayton County Schools led to an additional burden on Douglas County, as families migrated to a school that had a great reputation and accreditation.

Although most white people will deny it, there is a deeply rooted, instinctive distrust and sometimes subtle frustration they feel toward Black people, as well as other minorities.  It’s the reason for exclusivity in country clubs and subdivisions, which America has a longgggggg history of attempting, quite successfully I might add.  It’s why some people say, “Once the Washingtons moved in, folks started packing up and moving out.”

Yes, this is a topic that makes people extremely uncomfortable, but it plays such a huge role in how schools function, how teachers deal with student, etc. that it can’t be ignored.

People who lack color look at those who have color and immediately attach a negative attitude toward them.  So let’s return to the schools…

When  teachers receive their rosters at the start of a semester, or school year, they scan the names of students.  For the non-educators, many class rosters have a column which indicates the race of the student.  My last employer’s rosters noted the race as either “Hispanic” or “not Hispanic,” which I couldn’t understand.  I can recall attending a workshop about bias in education and this SCREAMS bias to me.  Long names with hyphens that ended in vowels immediately made teachers pause, their brows to gather, and they did some quick mathematical calculations to see just how many of those “Latinos” would be in their classes.

Then it was on to the Black folk.  Typically, teachers would put a question mark next to the name of a person who might be Black, but they were not entirely sure.  Then they would quietly and subtly ask previous teachers to see who taught the suspect, and more mental mathematical calculations were made.

And so on and so on…

The truly aggressive teachers, who held on to their Honors and AP classes like a junkie to his crack, reviewed their rosters and did everything they could to discourage and ultimately remove the minorities from those classes, because everyone knows minorities can’t cut it in an advanced class.  They don’t even like to read.  There’s just no way.

In fact, a former colleague of mine, who is a minority, told me that his daughter (who was a talented and brilliant gem), who took Calculus the year before, had been told the reason she was struggling in the class was because of her minority status.  Is it possible that some teachers actually verbalize their ignorance?

When it came to testing, Douglas County had to administer a series of graduation tests in the core subjects.  The writing portion was in the fall, and the other five took place in the spring of the junior year of high school.  When this test was compared nationally, its rigor was at a 7th grade level.  Yet students in Georgia could take it up to five times before the state gave up on them.

Interestingly enough, the level of students expelled from the school, or transferred to other schools increased significantly right before the graduation tests were administered.  Schools played the undesirable shuffle and kids were bounced from school to school, usually landing at the worst school in the district, which consequently had the lowest scores.

So, if we add up all the horror stories, the sad statistics, and the madness, it all comes down to this:

The education system doesn’t believe that minorities (except Asians, of course) have what it takes to compete with their white classmates in this country.  They are economically lacking, socially lacking, and culturally lacking.

Minorities are reminded of this regularly, as the government, both local, state, and federal, offers programs designed to help them.  In Chapel Hill, the superintendent and other brown-nosing lackeys go out to the low-income neighborhoods armed with books for the poor children and they read to them for an hour or two, hoping to inculcate in them the love of reading.  The kids grab the books in their hands and run off with the novelty items for a remarkably short amount of time before tossing them aside in favor of other forms of entertainment.

Skewed budgets, corrupt officials, power-hungry administration, and unfair biases towards minorities has taken the concept of public education providing educational opportunities for all students and shredded it.  I  believe each person is responsible for his or her own success or failure.  However, if a person is consistently treated as undesirable and unworthy and unacceptable into a community, he may eventually perform according to expectations.

I can’t honestly offer a solution.  Bias is inherent to human beings.  The question though, is how can we put aside our innate prejudices towards everyone and still treat each other with respect?

Growing up in New York City, I rarely felt discriminated against.  New York has the reputation it has for a reason.  It’s tough to make it in that city.  You have to be strong, and quick, and ready.  Thus, I felt that it was a city that expected you to prove yourself and people didn’t look at color when they saw you.  If you could make it work, you were in.  The weak didn’t make it very far in NYC.

I have never lived anywhere else where I felt so accepted as I did in New York City.  The framers of the constitution had no idea, or intention, of creating a new country that was so diverse, but it has indeed evolved as such.  When will we evolve with it?

This post was inspired by the StudentsLast blog, as I read this satirical piece this morning:

http://studentslast.blogspot.com/2012/10/invisibility-cloak-for-all-your-testing.html

Enjoy!

 

 

**This post is dedicated to Ms. Nine, whose blog I enjoy, and who was kind enough to check on me recently.  Thank you!

I usually spend late afternoon/cooking time alternating between the stove and the laptop, reading blogs about food and family.  Ree Drummond, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman, has a tremendously successful blog, and out of this world recipes that are simple to understand and simpler to make.

So I thought I would begin the week with a recipe for the budget-conscious teachers (or anyone else) who want to cook a savory meal and get it done QUICKLY!

To all the professional bloggers out there with delicious cameras that have all kinds of attachments, forgive me.  These pictures came from my iPhone.  Mea culpa…

This was a hit for everyone in my family last night…let’s say I’ll call it:

Tortellini Surprise

We’ll do it flashback style.  So here’s the finished product:

This looks hearty and delicious.  The sauce takes me back to my travel abroad to Italy a long time ago.  Seriously, that sauce looks like something made from scratch; certainly not a jar of .99 cent pasta sauce.  I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me lay out the ingredients so you can make this just as quickly as I did last night:

Tortellini Surprise

One pound of lean ground beef

diced red onions

minced garlic

fresh cilantro (I just used this because I had it.  I would put it in my Corn Flakes if I could!)

green bell pepper, chopped (I bought a frozen bag for $1.00 at Kroger. It’s cheaper than one bell pepper.)

 — I only used a little bell pepper because, well…I have little children and we all know how picky they are.

One jar of pasta sauce (Again, I bought the jar of .99 cent Kroger pasta. It tastes just like Prego.)

One or two bags of cheese tortellini (Kroger brand.  Cheaper than fancy Italian sounding brands)

Seasonings like garlic powder, italian seasoning, pepper,

Optional:

Organic flax seed

Organic coconut oil

*I don’t think my family reads my blog so I feel it is safe to note that these are those special Hallmark moments when I slip in healthy things for my family without them knowing.  I used the organic coconut oil, which has great health properties, into the ground beef, and when I was seasoning the beef, I added a tablespoon of the flax seed.  My husband doesn’t like seeds at all, and he DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE.  Give it a try.

For the cooking novices (and just because I took all these photos), here’s some step by step pictures:

Step 1:  Brown the beef in a large skillet, with a bit of olive oil or the coconut oil I used.

When the meat is almost all brown, with little to no pink showing, I add a generous teaspoon of minced garlic, about two or three slices of red onion diced, and I grab a handful of cilantro and chop it up as small as possible and add it as well.  Then I remembered the green bell pepper that was in the freezer.  When the fresh produce is too expensive, I look in the frozen food aisle.  Lo and behold, I found a bag of chopped green bell pepper for $1.00!  I tossed in a little. Remember, I have little finicky ones running around the house.  And I still have tons more for another meal.

Step 2: Once the meat is smelling good, it’s time to add the pasta sauce. I add the entire jar and then half a jar of water.  It will not be runny.  The .99 cent jar from Kroger is thick, just like Prego sauce.  Add garlic powder, pepper, and anything else you like at this point.  Here’s a tip:  add a  good size pinch of sugar to the sauce.  It helps neutralize the acidity of the sauce.

Looking good, eh?

Now, I have not been able to find this heavenly brand of garlic powder here in North Carolina, but in California, my sister buys this from her dollar store.  It’s unbelievable!  She’ll usually send us four jars at a time.  People from all over love this amazing garlic powder.  I even sprinkled some on my slices of garlic bread.  Divine! I add a good amount of Santa Paula Garlic Powder to the sauce.

Step 4:  By now, the sauce is working quite nicely, so I put on a pot of water to boil.  For tortellini, there’s no need to put any olive oil into the water, but I added a pinch of salt.  Of course, if you like your food greasy, by all means, pour some in.  I love olive oil.  Tortellini cooks for only a couple of minutes so it will be done rather quickly.  The package says two minutes.  I cooked it for six or seven.  I wanted to make sure it was hot all the way through.

To all the teachers out there who have been making a lousy salary for years (like me) then this is the kind of meal that is easy on the wallet, and on the tired hands of teachers who do so much every day caring for other peoples’ children.  I have learned over the last year or two that the store brand for many items is just as good as name brands.  This Kroger tortellini was truly lovely and delicious and I got a thumbs up from the man!  Yeahh!

While the water is boiling and the meat is cooking up to a delectable dish, I prepared a salad and the garlic bread!!  Whew!!  I love bread.  If you ever go to Puerto Rico on vacation, you have to ask someone local to take you to a bread bakery.  The bread is so amazing and you can smell it for blocks and blocks.  Slap some butter on that warm, fresh out of the oven bread and have it with a hot cup of espresso.  This is life.

I digress.  Another great place to get good food cheaply is Walmart.  Their bakery Italian bread is fabulous!  And, as you can see, only $1.68.  It’s also huge.  We had about five slices for garlic bread last night, and the rest of the loaf will be used for lunch sandwiches throughout the week.  In our house it may last until Thursday, which isn’t bad for $1.68.

Did I mention it is only $1.68???

Here were the results overall:

This meal took approximately 35 minutes to prepare from start to finish.

The total cost for the meal was approximately $8.85.  This fed my family of five, with some leftovers for lunch the next day.

Here’s another picture of the finished product:

Bon Apetito!!

Some people see dead people…I see metaphors.  In fact, I saw so many metaphors in the movie, “Life is Beautiful” that when my husband (at the time) emerged from the movie theater so many years ago, and he sauntered nonchalantly to the car, while I was a puddle of emotional devastation, I knew at that moment we would end in divorce.

We did.

I believe it was Aristotle who once said that the true measure of genius lies in one’s ability to recognize metaphors (not dead people).  Now, I’m leagues behind genius status (although my IQ score was pretty high back in high school) for sure, but I do love metaphors and I see so much depth and relativity in life and literature through the vehicle of metaphors.  Sadly, many students struggle identifying metaphors.

Today, I spent a fruitful and productive half hour making my second batch of homemade laundry soap. This might seem like a mundane task to the rest of the world, and it is SERIOUSLY late for me, as I should have done this eons ago, but I feel such a sense of accomplishment doing something so budget-conscious and beneficial, that it makes me absolutely giddy.  Let me not forget to mention how wonderful my kitchen smells as I cook up the simple concoction. **See: onegoodthingbyjillee.com for the recipe.

As I slowly stirred the pot, two thoughts emerged and twirled around my consciousness.  My mood was significantly better than it had been for weeks as I enjoyed making this delicious laundry detergent for my family.  Yes…little things like that make me happy.  I’m sure hundreds of thousands of feminists are rolling over in their graves.

And then it occurred to me that even though the best of parents, with the best of intentions, have the best of children, and give them the best life has to offer, the essence of it all is that what is filling up the world today is a bunch of really screwed up, potentially sociopathic, definitely psychopathic, manipulative kids.  In fact, many some are quite rotten.

The subject of students is so massive and complex, that it is difficult to write about without feeling convoluted and begin rambling.

For every kid putting the proverbial apple on the teacher’s desk, there’s at least four who are trying to inject that same apple with cyanide, or arsenic, or their urine.

I stand firm on the platform that kids aren’t born that way. Yes, I blame parents.

I taught at one particular school in the suburbs of Atlanta for a few years and one program they had organized down to a science was called advisement, whereby each teacher in the school was assigned 17 – 20 students and had to meet with each student and their parent(s) to review each transcript, look over the course schedule for the following year, and plan each of their classes.  It was a lovely idea that took a huge burden off of the guidance counselors, who couldn’t possibly meet personally with each student in a school of roughly 1,800 students, except that it became one more chore and countless hours of work for teachers weren’t paid, to help students they didn’t teach, etc.

So here I am, sitting down  on the hard cafeteria table stool with mom and her daughter, my advisee, a precocious but viperish young lady.  We were planning out her schedule.  Mom made the deadly mistake of suggesting that perhaps the full load of advanced placement classes might be too much for her daughter.  The glare filled with venomous rage that child directed toward her mother seemed almost visible, like the aurora borealis lights in Canada.  Her words were a nuclear blast of ice and fire combined.

“Would you just shut up already, you stupid bitch?” she said to her mother between clenched teeth. “I told you.  I have it all planned out.  I know what I’m doing.”

I felt: A. Shocked     B.  Horrified     C.  Angry     D.  Outraged     E.  All of the above.

The correct answer, of course, was E.

I’m tired of reading polite blogs and articles by experts who sugarcoat the reality staring everybody in the face.  Teachers, it’s time to start calling it as we see it.  We all know there are some really great, kind, sweet, apple pie students out there; the kind that will buy you Starbucks without you asking for it, or leave little plants on your desk for teacher appreciation day.  Yes, we’ve got that.  Heck, I used to threaten my students when I was pregnant with my fifth child, to bring me their milks from the cafeteria at lunchtime.  (I craved Sunkist and milk; yes, disgusting!)

But because so many parents have relinquished their control and “pants-wearing” in this country, there are just as many, if not more, sinister, manipulative, spoiled, Jekyll and Hyde students who would sell their teachers into slavery, Joseph-style, if it meant they wouldn’t have to take that test on Friday, too.

A former colleague of mine, who is an OUTSTANDING, if slightly nutty, economics teacher, once had students take toilet paper from the bathroom floor (not good already!) and when she had stepped out of the classroom momentarily, they put it in her Chik-fil-A styrofoam cola drink.  Now, she was, and probably still is, one of those teachers students love, and wave to in the hallways, and visit when they’re on college breaks.  You know the kind I’m talking about.

So, if the students could do something so disgusting and just plain wrong, to that teacher, then imagine what they would do to the teachers they don’t care for very much…

Check out John Rosemond’s article about Sensory Processing Disorder below;

http://lacrossetribune.com/lifestyles/relationships-and-special-occasions/article_9ac24f88-68fe-11df-bdb0-001cc4c002e0.html

John Rosemond calls it nonsense.  And proved it was nonsense.

This reminds me of a problem my son seemed to have once upon a time.  He couldn’t sit still.  His legs were always shaking mildly.  But it used to drive me nuts, especially if he was sitting next to me.

Imagine, to my utter dismay, to see a commercial one night about a disorder called Restless Leg Syndrome.  When my son saw the commercial, he jumped up, let out a whoop of delight, and gave me the “I told you so” look, and demanded I make an appointment for him to see a doctor about his syndrome.

I stood up, slapped him on the back of the head, and went to bed.  We never discussed the subject again.

I decided to step away from the blog for a few days and evaluate my feelings about what I was doing, try, in essence, to figure out what the purpose of this blog is and where it is going.  Does it even need to go anywhere?

Then, last night, as I fiddled with Pinterest (my addiction) I came across a blog by Jeni Eliott called at TheBlogMaven.com.   She’s a blog guru, and probably makes a fortune helping people cross over from the dark side to  WordPress.  Good for her!  I read a post by her which helps people figure out  who they want their audience to be.  After reading it, I pondered these two questions:

1. Who do I envision reading my blog?

2. What is the purpose of my blog today?

This blog was my first attempt at dipping my big toe into the pool of blogging, but I’m no technology/coding expert, not by any stretch of the imagination.  So, as I tried to answer the questions above, I circled and danced around one word: ANGRY.

Yes, angry.

At the end of the longest school year of my career in organically grown Chapel Hill, while I dragged my body, one limb at a time from my bed each morning, so drained, so enervated, and defeated, when I should have done the Snoopy dance because it was summer, I was seething underneath.  I was angry.  No, pissed is more like it.

Have you ever seen a Puerto Rican woman angry?  It’s not pretty.

I began this blog in a frenzy of gut-wrenching anger.

I was angry at having spent ten years of my life being told I was molding and changing, and affecting the lives of hundreds of students every day and that my job was more vital than any other career in America, while at the same time feeling the pinch of furloughs and actual salary decreases year after year.

I was angry that I spent mostly ten-hour days at school, not including weekends, sacrificing my offspring who needed me, believing that I was an asset, that I was needed, that my place in that classroom, in that school, mattered, made a difference.  I don’t know…something.  After all, I left the corporate world, the 9 to 5 grind, a great job at Marvel Comics, where I received bonuses every year, because I wanted to do something significant in the world.

I was angry that I have next to nothing for retirement savings because I invested my time and money into a low salary and horrible retirement system.

I was livid that unless I became a “team player” and made sure I altered grades for all students to uphold the reputation of an elitist community, I would lose my job, which is indeed what happened because I’ve never been a good “team player.” In fact, I was never interested in playing on those teams so I was always in a contentious place with the “front office.”

Yes, I began this blog wanting to tell every dark, ugly, sordid story of the politics, the special education department, the falsifying of grades, and shatter the thin glass that divided teachers from the rest of the world.  I would break the silence.

And the world would listen.  They would read every ugly word, and know the truth.  They would know that high school students come to school high, and drunk, and hung over, and have sex in the bathrooms, and cheat with their cellphones, and cheat without their cellphones, and lie to a teacher’s face just as easily as they lie to their parents regularly.

And the world would hear my roar of pain, of anger straining to break free, as it  ripped through the years of pent-up frustration, of kidding myself that I matter to a system that looks good on paper, but is filled with boxes where automatons shuffle papers and engineer diplomas.

I’m sick to my stomach that I came back year after year, losing years of my life due to overwhelming stress, jumping through the hoops in the school system’s dog and pony show.

Do you know how many times I had my hand on the phone and was about to call the hotline for Atlanta Public Schools and tell them all I saw, as the dirty secrets exploded in people’s faces? But still I lived in fear.

But anger isn’t healthy.  Bitterness is futile and counterproductive.  I have hundreds of stories to tell about my years as a teacher.  I have met so many educators who have the blinders on, who smile the Open House smile, and go with the flow of it all.  They sicken me.  I am sick of niceties, of pleasantries, of pasting fake smiles on my face.

It’s just like the happy and imaginary land on Facebook, where all my friends are busy with their “fun” lives, doing “fun” things, thinking “fun” thoughts all the time, all day long.

My son was on a suicide watch in a mental hospital, while I sat in my classroom hundreds of miles away, unable to hold him, unable to be there to slap the stupid off my ex-husband’s face for being such a useless excuse for a father.  Why?  Because I took an even bigger pay cut to work in the stupid elitist community at CH and couldn’t afford to get to him because for years I have made less and less money each year teaching, while I  gave more and more of my soul to students and administrators who didn’t give a damn about me.

And I was angry at the non-teachers who often made lofty remarks about all the vacation teachers have, and if they don’t like the salary they should get another job, or that those who can’t, teach.

I had a dream last night about teaching in a classroom, and the classroom had a large closet, with lots of supplies and books and I remember feeling so fortunate.  But people kept walking into the room and talking very fast, while they were taking my materials out of the closet, and telling me that I wouldn’t need this or that.  It was a sobering dream.

I raised my children as I had been raised, believing that telling in the truth was the best way to live, believing that it would set you free, keep you honest, etc.  But that’s not really true is it?

It’s not true, because while I’m sitting here unemployed, the same people who discriminated against me, harassed me, gave out A’s for worksheets, adjusted grades to passing for the minorities and the dumb athletes are still there, carrying on, running the show.  The crooked superintendent still holds his job.  The members of the school board who expected me to play their unethical games are doing quite well, and the community that expects the public schools to run and do their bidding is still thriving.

In essence, I it never mattered at all.