Saturday, July 08, 2006


Forget The Beef List For Now

Well, it's sort of a beef, but a new one. One of the boggest complaints I've felt brewing inside me about our school is the infantilization of the staff. We're often treated as stupid, untrustworthy, ignorant, idiotic children.

Let me refer you now to a South Park episode. Kenny gets chicken pox. Stan, Kyle, and Cartman's parents send them over to spend the night so that they'll all get it. This way, they can all get it over with at once. They do not tell this to the children. Stan and Cartman do get sick, while Kyle doesn't, so Kyle is sent back to Kenny's again, where he overhears the parental conspiracy. All he gets is that the parents want them to get sick, but he doesn't hear why. All he knows is that the parents lied to them. To get revenge, the boys hire a hooker to use all the parents' toothbrushes, giving them herpes. I'm not quite at the give the administrators herpes stage just yet. Now back to our story.

Summer school is much shorter than regular school. Therefore, each day is even more crucial. How crucial is it? Well, you're not allowed to even apply to teach summer school if you have any summer conference scheduled that might conflict with summer school hours. So let it be written, so let it be done, according to all the higher ups. At least, that's what they always told me. Then I got the phone call. Miss X and Miss Y, who are both teaching summer school, will be gone next Thursday and Friday. You guessed it! They're going to a conference. Turns out that hard and fast rule about conferences isn't so hard and fast if some administrator feels like fudging things a little. Just like South Park, the teachers are the ones being lied to, "for our own good," and the district/administrators are the ones doing the lying. This just happens to be one example of a pattern of behavior.

Of course, Miss X and Miss Y are not going to give up sick leave for a conference. That means they'll still be getting paid as if they were there, but since they aren't using sick leave to cover the cost of subs, that money has to come from somewhere else. Unfortunately, since there are no conferences allowed during summer school, there is also no budget available to pay for whoever comes in to cover those two classes. You heard me. The subs will be "volunteering" to do it.

You've heard of people who, let's say, they're so valuable in their position, the company can't afford to promote them? Perhaps another way to put it would be people who have some sense of honor and ethics, such that when the chips are down, the company knows you're one of the ones who can be relied upon to help put things right? Perhaps even another way to put it would be: suckers. Who knew that I was one of these people? Turns out, I am.

I swore I would never submit to these requests. For example, at least two or three times a week, the call will go out for any teacher who is willing to sub during their prep period, because, on a regular basis, we can't get enough subs to cover however many teachers might be absent on a given day. I never do it, for a couple of reasons. First, I just don't like running all over campus and giving up my prep. Second, if I fill in for a missing sub, I'm essentially telling the school and the district that they don't have to be responsible for getting enough subs into the sub pool in the first place. You know, the old "failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." Every time I filled in for a missing sub, I would be approving their lack of planning, and asking for it to continue. As noted above in option three, I'm trying to stop being a sucker.

However. Our Department Chair called. She, and Miss Z, who has a strong interest in the subject of the conference, had agreed to cover Miss X and Miss Y. Now Miss Z suddenly can't make it, and I'm the chips are down guy. If it was anyone but her, anyone above her in the heirarchy, I would say no, with maybe a "screw you" thrown in for good measure after I had hung up. You know where the rest of this is going. Thursday and Friday I'll be back at school. At least I can drop by the office and check how many times my schedule for the fall has been changed without notice.

Which is another stunt they pull: let you plan all summer, then on the first day of school, tell you you've got different classes. Thing is, they don't let you check out on the last day of school until you've given them your summertime contact info. Why don't they let you know about changes? Your guess is as good as mine, and you don't even work here. However, I can tell you that while your guesses might begin from the "innocent mistake" side of things, after all these years, mine begin from the "malicious intent" end of the spectrum.

I wonder if this year they'll actually hire as many teachers as they have positions.
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