Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 17 2011

This is what’s wrong with education

I am getting old and cranky.

There was an accident on my drive to work today, which meant I showed up five minutes later than my kids who come to study. Then I spent the next 55 minutes doing math with them until the bell rang for them to start class and me to start prep. Normally, my prep should have been plenty of time for me to make the photocopies I needed for class, but instead I got loudspeaker-called into a meeting I didn’t realize applied to me. It turns out my administration needed individual cards created for each child, with demographic data and test scores, so they could make classes for next year. To accomplish this massive task, they decided to take all teachers’ prep periods and even get subs in classrooms so some teachers could work more than one period.

Now, cards are a great idea and I could understand this huge expenditure of man-hours… if this were the 1800s and handwriting was still a relevant activity. But it isn’t. In this day and age, we have fancy things called computers. Since all the data was already in Excel (from which it had actually been printed for us to copy), I could have run a mail merge and had the ENTIRE PROJECT DONE IN FIVE MINUTES.

I was nearly purple with irritation when I found out what we were doing. I tried to explain that I could do this on the computer, and was told we didn’t have the software. (Yes, we do. It’s called Microsoft Word.) I volunteered to do it myself, for the whole school, right then, so we could just have it done. I was told that wouldn’t work because the teachers were already scheduled for these meetings and subs had been called. I suggested all the teachers get the extra minutes of prep time. I was told maybe they could start with the incoming kids next year. I pointed out it would work just as well today. I was told no.

@#$#^%@#[email protected]#[email protected]#%&^?^*&^$%#!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate inefficiency. I think it’s a waste to pay for unnecessary substitutes. I went to college so that I wouldn’t have to sit around and do mindless secretary work. I also lost the only 40 minutes I was going to get to myself all day, and was completely unprepared for class for the first time in 2 years and just had to wing it. I wasn’t asking anything extra of anyone, and would have made everyone’s lives easier for years, and they refused. I was grouchy ALL DAY LONG. (And then I had a doctor’s appointment, where they made me wait an hour in the office. Why does no one think my time has value?)

2 Responses

  1. Wess


    Your story sums it up perfectly; I’m thinking of a million moments that don’t do it quite as neatly but cause a slow burn of the same frustration.

    Wholeheartedly seconded.

  2. Max Miller

    I am admittedly a sucker for all conspiracy theories but I can’t help but think this was a bogus task designed to just empty the classrooms of teaching staff so some kind of accusation could be investigated. I can’t help but think they had no interest in the task being accomplished and the whole bogus activity was just a diversion. It has all the earmarks of a spot raid. But like I said, consider the overly suspicious source.

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