A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Open thread: What does YOUR school district do?

Does your school district have a policy on school board members intimidating staff and demanding outrageous favors and special treatment for their children?

Does your school district basically just accept egregious behavior such as this as part of the reason why people try to get on school boards in the first place?

What about teachers or administrators who engage in the same behavior?

I'm expecting a LOT of anonymouses on this one.

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At 3/24/09, 7:43 AM, Blogger Dragon Lady said...

In the last school district I worked in I had the principal come to me after I sent a disruptive and disrespectful student(he called me a b%#@h in front of my entire class) to the office on a referral. I was informed that I was the only teacher this student was having problems with. He was failing my class where he had an A or a B in every other class. It didn't matter that I could document that this child hadn't done 75% of the required assignments and I can't grade what isn't turned in. I Had already gone to his other teachers and they said his work ethic was the same there, so imagine my surprise when I found out he had high grades in those same classes. I was informed that his father was a school board member and was very unhappy about all of this. So my referral came to nothing; which made the rest of the year in that class horrid. I informed the principal that the student could make up some of his missing work during tutoring to bring his grade up. When the student never showed I refused to change his grade so he failed my class. Needless to say I did not have a contract for the next year in that district.

At 3/24/09, 8:36 AM, Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

This sort of thing scares the crap out of me, and is one of the (few) reasons I'm glad I work in colleges rather than public schools.

At 3/24/09, 5:24 PM, Blogger OKP said...

Not that I know of. Besides, we don't need the Board to treat us like dirt -- sometimes, our community does it for free!

I'm dying to hear the details. I hope you can share!

At 3/24/09, 6:49 PM, Blogger andbrooke said...

We just posted our lists for Honors classes. One school district's employee's child was not on the list. We all knew the phone call was coming. She's in my Honors class this year and I did not reccommend her for next year's Honors program. She constantly complains in class about how everything is too hard. Well, it IS too hard for her- she barely reads on level and is extremely immature. Not to mention- the mouth never shuts.

Sure enough, she's in now. Must've been some phone call.

At 3/24/09, 6:51 PM, Blogger andbrooke said...

I almost forgot- same student auditioned for the school musical. Couldn't sing- the audition was terrible. Cried at home and -poof- a re-audition!


She was still shocked she didn't get the lead.

At 3/24/09, 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish there was something like that. Our school board includes a husband and wife (grandparents to 4 current students) who only want to "save money" (except when they want to give themselves raises and new laptops) and don't understand anything about running a school and a woman who spends HOURS going over our phone bill to save what usually amounts to $5-$10 in personal calls.

They chose our most recent principal because they thought they could control him (and we didn't like him at first) and now they have driven him away (and after 7 years we LOVE him). They want to control everything (what kind of computers we buy - they want PCs, I want Macs, replacing a 100% special ed teacher with a 50%, who sits on the new principal search, what pencils we buy, what books the librarian buys, etc...).

I wish they were just bullying us into giving higher grades.

At 3/24/09, 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking back, I also wanted to include something the school board did do that was hugely detrimental to our school.

About 17 years ago the school needed a new principal. Several teachers and the school secretary were on the committee. One of the candidates was an old friend of the husband I mentioned in my other comment.

The committee came forward with 2 recommendations and also felt strongly enough to say that they were very uncomfortable with the friend. Guess who the board hired?

Guess who was walked out of the building with all his things in a box at 3:30 the Friday before February break? He fell asleep at administrators meetings. He never knew what was going on. He sat on a counter watching the secretary all day. He harassed several teachers, including one whose husband was a local administrator. He used to talk about shooting himself. He scared the crap out of everyone. When the secretary went to the central office to say she would not becoming back the next year, because she wouldn't work for him anymore, it was just days before they fired him.

Guess what the school board let us know this week. They would choose who was going to be on the hiring committee and they would make the ultimate decision. Fun for us!

At 3/24/09, 7:39 PM, Blogger Lightly Seasoned said...

Ha! BTDT. Most of the members of our board are very professional and delightful parents. One or two, however... Let's just say I am tenured and don't intimidate easily and that younger siblings did NOT come my way.

I will say that we all teach each other's kids in our incestuous little city. Many (many!) of the teachers in my building graduated from our fair institution and I've lost track of who is related to whom. My kid is in district and I teach the kids of colleagues every year. I've only ever made one request for teachers, and it was honored, but it really was a best fit issue and was at the suggestion of her current teacher (and any parent could make the same request). Other colleagues make requests every year, but my experience is that my kid's teachers have all been excellent without any interference from me.

Maybe the secret is getting in sooo deep, everybody figures out how to navigate it.

At 3/25/09, 7:15 AM, Blogger bev said...

I'm a parent in a "small town" district. Not really. I'm a parent in an inner ring district that's not much different from the small town I grew up in. Everyone knows everyone else.

While there's no doubt in my mind that some current (and for sure several past) board members can be safely accused of meddling, the members of our community are a mouthy bunch and don't let that sort of thing go on for long.

I once read the minutes of a board meeting in a neighboring district. NO citizen comments. Sheesh! In our district there are sometimes as many citizen comments as business! If a board member were doing crazy stuff, everyone in this strangely urban "small town" would know about it. Someone at a board meeting would stand up and point the finger unabashedly and on the record. It can be crazy good and crazy bad.

Now. A tenured teacher who's out of district kid is allowed to be a thug because she has some sort of mysterious power to make principals, parents and fellow teachers miserable? That's a whole 'nuther story.

At 3/27/09, 6:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our district has a huge bureaucracy with no school board. The amount of nonsense is huge, but the only election is for Mayor, then he gets to pick the rest.

At 4/15/09, 8:20 PM, Blogger Kelsey said...

I've got one that's sort of tangentially related...

Here in Korea, private tutoring is illegal. Not only for foreigners like me, but for Koreans as well. No private piano lessons, no help with math, nothing. It's pretty crazy, and is a large part of why there is a thriving cram school system here.

One of my friends worked at a school last year where the principal forbade her from teaching private students (while it is illegal, it is pretty widespread) and yet required her to teach his three daughters in the evening or be fired.



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