There is no way to work in a school today without the very clear recognition that the cracks are expanding. The question is, how do we prevent ourselves from cracking up amid the crumbling?
Kids used to just fall through cracks. But "kids", at least as the phrase's original connotation indicated to me, implied single kids (despite the use of the plural which I took to mean "one at a time.") Or it meant a certain type of kid. It left one with the impression that a "kid falling through the cracks in the system" was an anomaly, a rare, but sad and regrettable bird, one that someone somewhere was diligently working to prevent in the future.
But nowadays, this expression has taken on (and is about to take on even more so) a whole new meaning.
Not just some kids, not just a bunch of kids, but many, many, many kids will fall through the cracks in the system in the next few years because the system is officially cracked and these budget cuts are taking a drill bit to the fault line.
For example, my own school district has forecast a projected 16 million dollar deficit after the operation of the 2009/2010 school year so something like 18% -- 22% of our district's teaching force was just pink slipped.
We're still going to service roughly the same amount of kids, though. We're just going to do it with 20% less educators (and a slashing of "fluff" classes like computers, art, music, and so on).
And all this as we face the oh-so-gentle stick of NCLB. Lest anyone forget, my high school is sinking towards Probation Level 4 in the DoE Circle of Educational Hell. I'm sure that less people actually trying to remediate our issues is going to help a heck of a lot, though. Wonder if they'll take that into consideration when evaluating our bubble tests next year?
They raise the bar. They slash the resources to achieve the targets. Then they paint the people who work there as imbeciles who couldn't teach a hungry monkey how to peel a banana.
I mean from my Superintendent on down to lil' old me, what's a fella to do? I know, I know, roll with the punches... but how many more punches can we all be expected to take before we are considered to be too punch drunk to soberly and successfully go about performing our jobs?
And it ain't just Lynwood that is cracked. As this report
states, nearly 60% of this Chicago school's students will not be graduating from 8th grade, to the great shock of both the students and parents, of course. I mean I too could clearly see how my child was all beefed up on books and ready for Harvard but then voila
, turns out she's flunked 8th grade (along with the lion's share of her peers) and here I was totally clueless about my kid's -- or her entire graduating class's -- performance. Totally believable.
Not that the school is above reproach, though. I'm sorry, but if 60% of your entire 8th grade is failing, guess what folks? The people working at the school are failing, too. Take some freakin' ownership!
In that spirit, are Lynwood's shortcoming my own fault as well? Absolutely. I must, if I am to accept any credit in the areas where we achieve, accept culpability for our shortcoming's as well. After all, am I not my co-teacher's keeper?
Usually, I'd crack a smarmy joke right about now in this point of the blog. Go for the smile with a small twist of the knife to boot. But guess what. These cracks are serious business and where the hell are our kids going to be in 3 years if we continue down this path.
Crack. It's like we're smoking it.