About 40 percent of all new public school teachers will quit teaching within five years. Twenty percent will quit within three years, but in urban schools, 50 percent will quit within five years. Add to these figures the stark reality that the population of school age children is ever-increasing while over a million veteran teachers are getting close to retirement, and you realize that public schools have a problem with teacher shortages. If you knew why so many public school teachers are "at-risk" of leaving the classroom, you might re-consider putting your child in a public school.
"Mr. Murray!" Brookie, my favorite assistant administrator said my name as though she was swearing. "Nobody is trying to change your education philosophy, but you will change your teaching strategies."
The way she said I would change my teaching methods reminded me of those peace-loving terrorists who tell us they're not trying to force us to give up Jesus, but that all of us infidels will convert to Islam - or else. Like George Orwell's inner party despot, O'Brien, this dear lady was dedicated to "curing" me of my "thoughtcrimes." I wondered if she'd ever read the Book of Daniel. She might say the young Hebrew captives, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah [re-named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego by the Babylonians] were not really forbidden to worship the true God. From a politically correct viewpoint, they simply had to bow down before the image of Nebuchadnezzar whenever they heard the music. What's wrong with a little compromise? Integrity, what's that? Academic freedom in public school classrooms? Are you kidding?!
My education philosophy determined my teaching strategies. I couldn't use teaching methods diametrically opposed to common sense. From day one, I had issues with her social constructivist philosophy with its emphasis on collaborative [group] learning over individual learning. I'm not a socialist and don't support anything that promotes the value of the group over the individual. Besides, learning must take place in the individual's mind first before it can be of any collective use to a group!
Because social constructivists are the alpha wolves of public education, my back-to-basics philosophy was about as popular with administrators as fish-flavored ice cream. I'm just old fashioned when it comes to trivial things like reading and writing skills. Constructivists tell us that reading to a child is the "same thing" as that child doing his or her own reading. Their new literacy says that teachers must allow students to work together in small groups to write essays and other projects. I told Brookie that her constructivist philosophy and subsequent teaching strategies were why my 10th grade students' couldn't read above a 4th grade level and why so few of my 10th graders couldn't write so much as a complete a complete sentence, much less an effective essay. She wasn't happy with my defiance. In fact, I thought I heard her mumbling something about "burning" me.
For over three years now, I had been fighting The System. Threats about "below standard" performance by their bias strategy police were meaningless to me. Even if they wanted to "fire" me, I was okay with that. [Don't you think it's just too coincidental how we use the word "fire" to describe the termination of one's employment? For me, it conjures up images of old Nebuchadnezzar threatening to "fire" the three Hebrews, literally.]
Holding my job over me as a means to get me to "do it" their way was silly. I willingly left a good job as a technical writer in order to teach high school English. Unlike many of my outer party peers, I knew I could still find work outside the classroom [a.k.a, Ministry of Records]. Besides, my Christian faith is real to me. I trust my Lord Jesus to watch over me. Like the three Hebrews, I had no way of knowing for certain that my God would deliver me to another, better job if they chose to fire me for actually teaching kids to read and write, but I could only do what my conscience mandated for me to do as a teacher. Brookie's threats were laughable when compared to the providential protection that surrounded me. I smiled at her as if to say, "Bring on the fiery furnace!"
My unwillingness to be a "team player" was unnerving to her and her boss, Phil, the principal, who answered to his boss at the county board of miseducation, who answered to his or her boss at the state level, who answered to his or her boss at the national level, who answered to that invisible government that really controls what's going on in this country, especially government schools.
I suppose that day's conversation in Brookie's office was like throwing down the gauntlet. She was determined to stop me from requiring my students to read their own literature assignments and write their own essays. She first tried twisting my arm by ignoring my discipline referrals. [Refer to a previous NWV article now called Classroom MisManagement on my website.]
In that article, I pointed out that quite often administrators do not decide in the teacher's favor on discipline referrals. Teachers like me, who refuse to follow their multicultural, prole-producing teaching strategies don't get administrative support when it comes to dealing with problem students. I was on my own. I countered this ploy by placing my problem kids within arm-reach of my desk with as much space as possible between them and other students. Yeah, I know. I probably harmed their self-esteem for life, but I usually got even the most disruptive kids to act somewhat civilized [most of the time]. Those who required special attention prompted a call to the school resource officer [a deputy] - my way of by-passing Brookie and Phil.
They also harassed me about my low class averages and high failing rates. Numbers are everything in public schools. Phil was even troubled that not all my "honors" students were receiving their obligatory "A" simply for being honor students. Brookie was concerned about the nearly two dozen "at-risk" students I was "forcing" to drop out of school because I wouldn't give them a passing grade.
Another ploy they use to control or weed out non-team players is the performance observation. This is where an administrator or some other member of the strategy police take a seat in the back of the teacher's classroom and observe everything he or she does in the conduct of his or her class then subjectively grades his or her effectiveness as a teacher. My greatest strength noted was "subject knowledge." For some strange reason, my observer was always amazed to find an English teacher who understood simple grammar, word usage and sentence structure and one so thoroughly rehearsed in American, British and World Literature.
Brookie and Phil would both tell me I was a "very smart man" then admonish me about my consistent weakness - "failure to meet the needs of diverse learners." You remember diverse learners. They're the ones who don't learn by reading, writing, adding, subtracting, etc. In fact, they're not required or even expected to learn at all. But the teacher is expected [i.e., required] to pass them. That's how NO CHILD gets LEFT BEHIND.
I'm not a smart man at all, though I may be a little smarter than Brookie and Phil. That's not a high bar to clear. When I was in high school and college, I read what I was assigned to read [but little more than that, except the Bible and adventure stories about my frontier or military heroes or anything by Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Sterling North or Jack London]. I also paid attention in class, took notes and did my homework [most of the time]. These little learning techniques are anachronisms today, according to the constructivist educrats now running [a.k.a., ruining] government schools.
I believe one reason so many teachers drop out by their fifth year is because that's the year most of them would qualify for tenure. Tenured teachers are harder to get rid of than chigger bites. Administrators use performance observations, class averages, failing rates and discipline referrals as quantitative evidence to withhold tenure from teachers who refuse to follow their prole-producing teaching strategies.
Thousands of otherwise sincere, hard working teachers are forced from the classroom each year for no better reason than failure to follow the party line. Thousands of others who remain are badgered into retiring via mountains of paperwork required to validate their decisions in the classroom, or they're kept preoccupied with daily faculty meetings. The effort to weed out or control what I call "real" teachers has filled classrooms with teachers who lack the subject knowledge to teach and those who're only there to prey on kids. Google "sexual predators" and see how many stories come up about teachers.
I confess that I had reservations about public schools long before I became a teacher. My wife and I were thoroughly frustrated with the almost-savage behavior our oldest daughter witnessed in her 2nd grade classmates, and I was sick of reading "millions of years ago" in her science textbooks, which taught the Theory of Evolution as fact. We put her in a Christian school when she started 3rd grade, and all our children have [mostly] remained in Christian schools, or they were homeschooled.
A dozen years later, I rationalized that I could teach English in a public school and not violate my religious principals against Darwinism. I didn't know about their efforts to also indoctrinate kids with socialism and moral relativism. Like just Lot, I thought I could have a positive influence in Sodom and not be affected by its corruption. At least my soul was not too sorely vexed; I fought The System from the day I entered it and even now, nearly three years after I left it. But I'm not alone.
America's teacher shortage will only get worse. As more and more veteran teachers retire, more and more under-qualified, pseudo-teachers and sexual predators will slither their way into classrooms. I offer no solutions to the growing number of real teachers "at-risk" of leaving public schools. There really aren't any solutions. You cannot fix what is working perfectly, according to plan. Government schools were conceived, started and slowly transformed for the sole purpose of rationing knowledge, thus allowing the inner party elite to rule over the masses they've made ignorant by controlling their education.
former public school teacher asks any parent or grandparent
out there to seriously consider the current public school situation
with its out-of-control discipline problems and ever-decreasing test
scores [despite increasingly dumbed-down tests]. As you look
at this dismal picture, try to imagine the situation in another 10
years when over a million veteran [Old School] teachers are
gone and millions of unqualified teachers are hired to replace them.
Do you really want your child to be a part of that scenario, that
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R.C. Murray is a disabled veteran and former public school teacher. He left a good job as a technical writer for a satellite manufacturer in order to teach high school English, only to immediately be told he could not expect, much less require his students to read their literature assignments. After four years of fighting The System and having a stroke then a mini-stroke, he decided he was safer in the airborne infantry and returned to being a technical writer for a military contractor.
He has also dedicated the rest of his life to exhorting parents about what�s really going on in their local public school, the one they think is a good school. R.C. Murray is the author of two books, Golden Knights: History of the U.S. Army Parachute Team and most recently, Legally STUPiD: Why Johnny doesn�t have to read.
E-Mail: [email protected]
Thousands of otherwise sincere, hard working teachers are forced from the classroom each year for no better reason than failure to follow the party line.