On World Hijab Day

Taboo topics are integrated in to an ESL teacher’s job. You’d be surprised how many different aspects of culture need explicit teaching.

Things like-

  • No, it’s not ok to bring a knife to school to sharpen a pencil.
  • Yes, you wear deodorant every day.
  • No, you don’t stand on the toilet.
  • No, you can’t eat the chicks that we hatched in class.
  • Please don’t try to kill the show-and-tell chameleon with a book, it’s someone’s pet.
  • The phrase “sexy time” isn’t another way to say good morning, someone was being mean to you.

A few months ago one of my students ran into my classroom. I teach middle and high school, so I’m not used to kids moving very quickly in general, let alone to get to class.

She was all out of breath when she started talking. “Please just say yes, Miss.” were the first things out of her mouth. It turns out that she had heard about an event called World Hijab Day, in which women of all faiths are invited to wear and experience the hijab, and wanted to see if our school could participate.

Oh, I forgot to tell you, the girl who ran into my classroom is a Yemeni Muslim and dresses in the hijab every day.

There is a very clear protocol to follow when it comes to organizing an event at school. There is an application process in which the students have to map out an explicit purpose to their event or club, which goes directly to the Principal. The students must run and organize the activity themselves, with the oversight of a teacher in an advisory role. This is especially true when it comes to events that may include reference to religion.

The student, as well as a few of her friends, crafted a beautifully written letter outlining their proposal.

“ We just want people to understand who we are, where we’re from, and why we wear the hijab. We want students to be able to ask us questions in an open way and not be embarrassed.”

After the administration approved the event, we got busy planning. I was prepared for some controversy; after all, Islamophobia is rampant in our country at the moment. When I brought this up to my students they echoed what they had outlined in their proposal and assured me that they are used to people “judging us before they get to know us, simply because of our hijabs.” and that they wanted to do something to change that.

We had about a month to get organized and things went smoothly until the day before. About halfway through the day my phone started to ring incessantly. I had a message from a co-teacher of mine — “Check your email immediately.” Apparently someone in the suburban community had found out about the event and taken issue with it.

I sat at my computer, horrified, as I tuned in to a local radio entertainer who compared my students to ISIS and railed on about the “separation of church and state”.

The lies just kept coming. “ You can’t talk about God in school. We can’t say the pledge because of God, so why can a school preach Islam? The school is FORCING girls to wear the hijab. Muslims are violent people who oppress women.”

All of a sudden an event that consisted of a table in the cafeteria before school became a battleground for Christian religious zealots. News stations started calling, the internet exploded, and I had to shut off my personal cell phone because of the lunatic calls I was getting. Even those things were nothing compared to the ignorant comments that popped up online.

“These people are spreading jihadism into Christian communities.”  “How about WEAR A SLAVE CHAIN DAY.” “How disgusting and irresponsible for any educator to encourage a child to wear a symbol of oppression.” “When is female circumcision day?” (And these are the ones that I can find that are the least offensive and free from expletives.)

Culture is woven with religion. The two go side by side. To divorce one from the other, especially when it comes to immigrants, is almost impossible.

Fortunately, in the United States we have something called the 1st Amendment which grants all people freedom of religion. Freedom of religion. Not freedom of religion for just Christians.

The same rights granted to Christian groups that promote and hold events such as “See You at the Pole” in which they pray around the flagpole in the school yard, are also granted to groups from other religions. In fact, in almost all cases, the establishment clause and the free exercise clause are enforced to protect Christian groups that use school spaces to organize such events.

The only reason the critics of the event brought up the separation of church and state is obvious — the event was led by Muslim students.

As a case in point, for the past three years I was the teacher advisor to a Three Kings’ Day event for a bilingual program that actually contained a play about Jesus. No one ever said a word about it.

The hate seething beneath the surface of our country is palpable. Our fear of “the other“ is so strong that people can take something as simple as three girls wanting to share their cultures and bastardize it into a persecution of “Christians”.

News flash- Christians aren’t persecuted in this country or in our public schools. School holidays are organized around the Christian holidays. The pledge is still read in public school, and yes, it still mentions “god”. Students don’t feel the need to hold an event explaining why they wear a cross to school because it is such a common thing. Furthermore, if they did feel the need to hold such an event, they could — because the law applies to everyone — that’s the beauty of the United States.

World Hijab Day was more of a success than I could have ever imagined. Partially because students became aware of the ignorant, bigoted comments online and took a stand by donning the hijab in solidarity for their fellow classmates.

As I walked through the halls, awash with colored headscarves,  I heard some of the most open and profound conversations about culture, religion, racism, and acceptance that I have ever heard —in school or otherwise.

I was given hope. These young people chose peace, understanding, and compassion rather than blind fear. Instead of shunning their classmates who wear the hijab, they not only embraced them, but defended them.

The students sent a message to our critics loud and clear that day- We aren’t afraid of each other and we won’t be afraid of you and your hateful message.

I speak to those same critics when I say if ever there is a time that your child wants to express their own beliefs, be glad that teachers like me and my colleagues exist. Teachers who stand for the rights of all of our children, and not just some of them. Because if we judged your children based on your hateful ideologies, would understand what it really means to be persecuted.

On Holidays

lightI love Christmas.

Well, I guess I love the feeling of Christmas, since I’m not all that religious.

I love how the world comes alive with generosity and love. How people act a little softer toward one another. How we all find ways to celebrate what we are thankful for. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas ( which includes Chanukah, Diwali, and Eid as well) really reminds me that there is hope in this world.

But, the holiday season is rough on all teachers, and I am not an exception. It is in this season that it’s most difficult to talk about my job.

No-one wants to talk about the pervasiveness of white privilege, or be reminded that for many, the holiday season is a is more bleak than anything. Most people don’t want to discuss the commonalities between the Jewish, Islamic and Christian holy days. They don’t want to hear about my students, because they’re all “foreign” and they put a human story to the “immigration debate” people are so found of bringing up.

They want to be happy, to experience the magic of the holidays, and so do I.

I’ve never been afraid to state my opinion, but I am finding it more and more difficult not lash out (in person or via social media) at the biased comments and broad generalizations about groups of people that come with the recent hurt in this world.

I find myself having a hard time being able to compartmentalize.

We’ve just passed the three year anniversary of the Sandyhook “Shooting” (I have no idea why the news media doesn’t call this a terrorist attack, but I digress). Three years since I walked into school knowing that my students would be scared and that I would have to be strong for them. Three years ago that I told the truth to my city, non-white students… that they were safe in school because statistically white, middle class men shoot up schools.

A week later I drove to my hometown and was asked five times if I was worried about my safety in the “ghetto” school I taught in.

I work at a different school than I did 3 years ago, but the hurt of my job doesn’t change just because my location has.

A few weeks ago I watched as the world stood by France after the terrorist attacks on Paris. Peoples’ Facebook photos mirrored the French flag, the news outlets reminded us that France was one of our most favored military allies and monuments all over the world lit up with the French colors.

I watched my Facebook feed fill up with hateful, anti-Muslim nonsense. I listened to my students tell me that their families were afraid to leave the house because they’ve been harassed. And I wasn’t surprised when Egypt, Lebanon and Bangladesh — three countries which also had major terrorist attacks that week — didn’t get anywhere near the kind of response the French did. 

How can I possibly pretend that I don’t see that the holiday spirit extends only so far as skin color or class or religion for so many people in my life?

And so, Christmas is at the same time wonderful and wonderfully difficult for this teacher.

However, it seems that the holiday spirit has found a way to me regardless of all of the hurt that I see.

For the past five years “Santa” has sent me a gift card with an inspirational quote about teaching affirming that teachers jobs are not as thankless as we believe.

The first year I was ecstatic and tried like crazy to figure out who had sent it, but as the years have gone by, I’ve learned to appreciate the gift for what it really is; a reminder that Santa really does exist, just like the editor of the Baltimore Sun told Virginia over 100 years ago.

How dreary is the world when we forget about Santa? He represents the faith, the poetry, and the romance that make tolerable our existence.

He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist in this world.

This year I have decided not to look for Santa, but instead help him (or her) spread their message this year.

Although I won’t call myself by the same name, the gift given to me may now give others a bit of hope this year. It is, after all, my job to make sure that eternal light with which childhood fills the world is never extinguished.

I will make sure that I teach tolerance and understanding to my daughter and my children at school.

I will make sure that the holiday spirit extends to all of my students, regardless of their religion.

I will continue to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves, for the power of my voice may be the greatest gift I have to give.

No Santa Claus!? Thank god he lives! He lives in the amazing hearts of those brave enough to believe the future can be changed.

Peace,

Kelly

On Leaving

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I’m saying goodbye to my kids and it’s harder than I thought.

The decorations are down, the beanbags from the reading corner are smushed into my car… it’s time.

I thought I’d feel relieved or vindicated, but instead I just feel incredibly sad.

Four years ago the Director of ELL’s in my district asked me to move from my cute little elementary school to an infamously difficult high school. Really, she was telling me, but she made it seem like a request. “I promise you, this is where you need to be,” she said. “Trust me,” she said, and because of the profound respect that I have for her, I did.

I also went home and cried.

When I called my mom, a veteran teacher with 36 years under her belt, I was still crying. In an effort to calm me down, she told me this — “Even the biggest and baddest teenager is still a kid, and those kids need you too, maybe even more than the little ones .”

And so they did.

My mom and my mentor were right. I love going to work every day and I love every one of the biggest and baddest teenagers.

Leaving them hurts.

My school is on the NYS “failing list” and next year we are being taken over by a local university educational partner as per one of the options NYS demands districts to choose from when they have a habitually low performing school. I probably should use the word “partner” or “work with” when describing the relationship with the university, but in fact “take over” is much closer to the feeling behind what is happening.

Per this process, all staff members had to reapply for their jobs. I was one of the people that were chosen to return, but there were significant unfair practices in the hiring process that left me wary.

The day before acceptance letters I was ready to sign on. I’m a naturally skeptical person, but I also have a healthy dose of optimism, so I decided to see the project out for a year. At the end of the day I was called down to the new administrator’s office. At the time, I thought nothing of it, as I had been an integral part of the curriculum development team for the following year and thought it had something to do with that.

What followed left me speechless…

“By all accounts you are an exceptional teacher.”  “The hiring team has concern over your like for social media.“Your habits wouldn’t be tolerated in other districts I don’t want to take anyone’s 1st Amendment right away but I would think long and hard before pressing send in the future”.

I get angry just thinking about it. I slam the car trunk closed.

“I belong here!” I want to tell at anyone who will listen.

But the reality is that I don’t belong here anymore.

I belong somewhere that wants strong teachers who defend our profession.

I belong somewhere that isn’t worried about politics, but is worried about our students and our communities.

I belong somewhere that values the exceptional teacher for her outstanding track record.

I belong somewhere where the fight for what’s right for my students doesn’t warrant a veiled threat for my job.

I’ll move on to a new school and those kids will need me just as much as these ones did, maybe even more.

I’m leaving and it’s harder than I thought.

-Kelly

To see my official refusal letter (containing some background information) please click here…Refusal Letter

On Refusing

Please accept this letter as evidence of my refusal to accept the employment offer at East High School for the 2015-2016 school year.  I am declining for a number of personal and professional reasons and would like to be very clear about my decision to do so.

On April 27th I was invited to a meeting with XXXXX concerning my application and future position at East. XXXXX began the meeting by indicating that  I, “By all accounts,  am an exceptional teacher.”  XXXXX then very clearly expressed his or “the hiring team’s” concern over my “…like for social media”. XXXXX also stated that I “…have been publicly critical of the UR/East partnership”. When I asked for an example or if XXXXX had read any of this to further explain his concerns XXXXX told me “I haven’t read any of it, I don’t have time for that stuff.” XXXXX also explained to me that my habits wouldn’t be tolerated in other districts as well as that I should “… think long and hard before pressing send in the future”.

I have never been anything but extremely transparent about what I post on the internet. I write a blog about teaching ESL in an urban environment, manage a teacher Facebook page (where my students and parents  can look at current and past assignments as well as turn in work) and manage a personal Facebook page. I regularly contribute to multiple newspapers and educational journals.  My students manage a Facebook page called Grown in the Concrete that is a place where people can share their positive experience of urban education. I also regularly critique multiple local news reporters for weak and biased journalism as it pertains to the city and our students.

In all of this work, I have never openly criticized my school, my school’s administration or the UR/East partnership. I believe in my leadership team and also in the teachers who work here.  I believe that all of our staff work extremely hard in an education system that is in shambles. I believe in public education and that we can be instruments for social and educational change.

I also believe that the media, traditional or otherwise, is instrumental to this process. There is a reason why the false rhetoric of “bad and failing” teachers exists. In many cases, the media serves only to perpetuate this myth. Many news outlets have forgotten that their purpose isn’t solely to sell newspapers, but to hold systems accountable to the public. I believe that until we stop hiding and start inviting the public to see what happens in our classrooms, then this false rhetoric will continue.

I know that I am an exceptional teacher. My graduation and exit rate of ELL’s is exceptionally high. I have never received a negative evaluation from one of the six administrators I have worked for.  I know I’m an exceptional teacher because my students love to come to my class and I love to be there. I am saddened that this was overlooked because of my “like for social media”.  Although many of the administrators I have worked with haven’t loved everything I have to say, they have always respected me as a professional. They have respected my work, my passion, and my commitment to not only the kids in front of me, but public education as a whole.  I am disappointed that my professional work doesn’t speak as loudly to the U of R hiring team.

I wish you all of the luck in the world and hope that this venture succeeds.

Respectfully,

Kelly LaLonde

On Witch Hunts

The Rochester City School District has made national headlines again. This time because Chief of Schools Beverly Burrell-Moore sent an email to the principals she supervises asking them to share names of teachers who have encouraged parents to refuse to allow their children to take state exams.

Per your building, please identify teachers who have sent letters or made phone calls to parents encouraging them to opt out their children from the NYS Assessments.  Also, identify teachers who you have evidence as utilizing their classrooms as “political soap boxes.  I need this updated  information no later than Tuesday morning for follow-up.”

In a follow up email to staff our Superintendent wrote the following:

“I know that many of you may have seen an email from a member of my team about this topic. If that email was interpreted as intimidating or offensive in any way, I apologize. Rest assured that no actions will be taken against any teacher or administrator engaged in the difficult work of educating our children simply because they expressed their views.”

I am not offended or intimidated. I am angry.

I am angry that these scare tactics are being used to justify a senseless, money-making scheme that is neither research-based nor a valid measure of student learning.

I’m angry that there are teachers out there who are scared and being bullied into teaching to an arbitrary test instead of instilling curiosity, wonder, and inspiration in young minds.

I am angry that the direct correlation between poverty and student performance has been confirmed for years, and yet the false rhetoric that teachers in poor districts are somehow lazy and incompetent persists.

I am angry that our Governor is holding “$413 million in aid that the law requires and New York state residents have paid in income taxes,” hostage from Monroe County schools and that we are collectively receiving less aid than we have since 2008.

I am angry that out of the 19 Monroe County Superintendents that called for an end to high stakes testing being used to evaluate teachers, the RCSD (the District most affected by high stakes testing because of the high concentration of poverty) Superintendent’s signature was the only one lacking.

I am angry because I suffer the repercussions of standardized testing every year.

I am an ESL teacher. My students are learning to speak, read, and write in English, all while striving to graduate in the four year, state-allotted time frame.

The ESL state exam (NYSESLAT) is a four part exam that theoretically tests a student’s reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, then mandates a level of support services depending on where they score.

Theoretically is the key word here.

If a student misses a part of the test, he or she is given a zero for that section. That means that students who missed a part of the exam are labeled beginner ESL students, even if their teachers, their parents and themselves can prove otherwise. Because of the federal mandate around ESL services, many of these students languish in classes with students who are truly new to the country and language.

In previous years when I brought this up I was told that my “opinion on a student’s English level was not welcome.  Not only do I have a Masters Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to talk to a student and figure out if he or she knows zero English or just missed part of an exam and “failed.”

What do you think this leads to? Attendance problems, students skipping the yearly test, and oh yes, my rating as a teacher plummeting.

I am angry because my students are stuck in a system so broken no one knows how to fix it.

I am angry because I LOVE MY STUDENTS and they DESERVE equal access to education, yet don’t get it.

I am angry that my opinion only counts if I’m pro students opting out, but doesn’t count when it comes to actually assessing how my students are performing in school.

So Rochester City School District, put me on whatever list you want.

Please excuse me, I’ll get off my political soapbox now.

Copyright: ©Kelly LaLonde, and urbanesl, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

On Ferguson and Jurors…

It’s taken me a while to process my thoughts on the grand jury’s decision not to indict in the Ferguson case. You see, a few months ago I was chosen to be a juror on a murder trial. The experience changed the way I look at people, how I identify with people, how much faith I put in our justice system. The trial lasted three days and the deliberations three more. That week was nothing short of excruciating.

Jury selection is long and tiring. I arrived at the courthouse at 8am and waited for my number to be called. As I looked around, I noticed that many of the people in the jury pool were white. They were choosing the jury for four trials that day, so there were about 800 people there. I live in Rochester, N.Y. In the last US Census approximately 39% of the population was black and 13% Latino. It seems odd that that they were nowhere to be found in the jury pool.

As I entered the courtroom and awaited questioning, the idea of a jury of peers became a farce. The defendant and victims were black, and yet almost no people of color were in the room. In a pool of about 200 people, possibly 10 of them were not white. Not only the jury, but the judge, all of the lawyers, and court officers were white.

The case involved a 16 year old who arranged to buy 1/4 lb. of marijuana and then shot the dealer and his passenger in the head. The passenger died and the dealer lived. There was overwhelming forensic evidence that the defendant shot the dealer and his passenger. The dealer himself testified to this. The jury really didn’t have anything to deliberate concerning those charges, and the twelve of us convicted him of murder and felony assault within minutes.

The other charges were difficult the main one being murder while in the commission of a felony robbery. The prosecution never entered any evidence that a robbery took place. When we got to the deliberation room, multiple people didn’t know what the defendant had allegedly stole (the marijuana). Our instructions were very clear; if there was no evidence, you must return a verdict of not guilty. I figured we would be out in ten minutes. That’s when things got ugly.

It’s amazing to see how mean people get when they are locked in a room without their cell phones or cigarettes. How a bunch of middle class white people suddenly think their lives are more important than those whom they were supposed to be serving. How bias toward police personnel manifests. How people lose their humanity to make it home in time for dinner.

The wife of a police officer sat on the jury and announced that under no circumstances would she return a verdict of not guilty because that was “letting the loser go free”. Let me reiterate that we had already convicted him of two life sentences worth of charges. Six others agreed with her.

The deliberations began.

For the next three days phrases such as “who cares, those people will just go on dealing drugs and we get one off the streets.”I’m not racist, but why are black people always killing each other?” and “Maybe because you work with ‘students like that’ you are not seeing things clearly” were thrown around ad nausea. These were some of the more benign things that were said.

I won’t go into much detail about the police officer’s wife sobbing about how her husband “lays down his life for people who are trash.” The screaming, the condescending remarks of those older and richer than others. The shaming and peer pressure.

I will tell you that after three days the jurors just wanted to leave. There were multiple school teachers that would be starting the school year in two days and a few others that were due to leave on vacation. Most of the votes switched to guilty at that point because, in the words of one juror, they wanted to “get home to their families and forget that people like this exist”.

It didn’t seem to matter that we would be breaking the law by returning the guilty verdict, because the others saw no reason to follow the law when it came to a drug dealer and an accused murderer.

Our laws are supposed to apply to all people, all the time, but in reality they don’t.

How many of those jurors drank before they were of age? Had an older friend buy them alcohol? Smoked pot at school? Sold pot at school? Drove under the influence? Stole something in their teenage years? Abused their spouses? Argued with a police officer at a bar? Taunted one during the St. Patricks Day parade?

In reality, white privilege buys you a lot more than less hassle from police officers. It buys you the excuse to knowingly break the law and think that those laws shouldn’t apply to you.

How does this connect to Michael Brown and Ferguson? Scroll through your Facebook and take note of the number of posts excusing the death of Michael Brown because he was “a criminal” or “a bad kid”. Look at the bias toward police officers and assuming that they always do the right things while black male teens are always doing the wrong things.

Take the time to examine your own biases. Have you ever broken the law? Do you feel like it was “minor” and “a non-issue?

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, “while black Americans constitute 13.1% of the nation’s population, they make up nearly 40% of the prison population. Even though blacks use or sell drugs at about the same rate as whites, they are 2.8 to 5.5 times more likely to be arrested on  drug charges than whites. Black offenders also receive longer sentences compared to whites.”

Is there a reason most of my white friends support Officer Wilson’s actions, while my friends of color don’t? Could it be that our own experiences mold our perceptions?

According to the Bureau of Justice and Statistics, “1 in 4 officers in the United States are those of color; mainly Latino”. That leaves 75% of the police force in this country as white. By these statistics, a white person is more likely to know or be related to a police officer and have positive interactions with them. On the other hand, the black community can expect higher incarceration rates for the same offenses as whites, and very little representation on the police force.

Could it be that my friends of color have been harassed one too many times, mistaken for one too many “persons of interest” or seen one too many friends humiliated by racial profiling? Could it be these are the only interactions with law enforcement they’ve ever had?

Could the grand jury in this case have been influenced by one of the members, just like in the story I just told you?

In the end, the jury was stalled 11-1, with me as the final hold out. The judge took a partial verdict in our case. The defendant was found guilty of four of the six charges and sentenced to multiple life sentences without parole. The other two charges were entered as no verdict.

As we were finally escorted out of the courthouse, the officer’s wife hissed at me, “I don’t know how you sleep at night,” and stalked away. I’ve never felt so much hate radiating off of a person.

In a way she was right, since then I don’t always sleep at night… but it’s because I know that there are people like her that are the stuff of an unarmed, black teen’s nightmares — and it terrifies me.

On Tenure…

teacher-tenureTeacher tenure has made it in to the mass media news again. This time because of some flippant remarks by The View’s Whoopi Goldberg.

Apparently Ms. Goldberg is seriously misinformed about the details of teacher tenure.

By definition, tenure is “status granted to an employee, usually after a probationary period.”

Teachers obtain tenure by a long and difficult observation process. Before they are granted tenure a teacher can be dismissed WITHOUT any due process rights.

What does that mean? As my union leader so bluntly put it when I was a first year teaching making too much noise, “You can be fired because someone doesn’t like the glasses that you are wearing.”

What does that look like? It looks like terror. A new teacher lives in fear for her job. She lives, breathes and sleeps school. It means that many are so riddled by fear that they often leave because of extreme mental stress before they are granted tenure. The burn out rate for a teacher in my district is 3 years.

Burn out is defined as a condition caused by depersonalization, exhaustion and a diminished sense of accomplishment (Schwab et al. 1986). A psychological model of how stress leads to burnout describes it as a syndrome resulting from teachers’ inability to protect themselves against threats to their self esteem and well being (Kyriacou and Sutcliffe 1978).

We lose approximately 50% of new urban teachers in the first 5 years of their careers. 25% will leave the profession in the first years, no matter which area they work in.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the new teachers who are experiencing this overwhelming fear. After a new teacher is tenured they are still subject to scrutiny at least once a year to make sure that they are performing. (Much like non-teaching jobs and yearly reviews.) Previously, these observations and meetings were designed as a collaborative effort. Teachers are all learners and most welcome feedback and new ideas on how to make their class work better.

That’s all changed.

Recent un-researched and frankly discriminatory evaluation practices for teachers are being implemented across the country. This is causing a significant amount of urban and rural teachers to be (by way of bad math and unfounded practices) labeled “ineffective”, therefore compromising their jobs. It has created a culture of fear in education.

What do these fears look like in classrooms? Teachers teaching from scripts, students staring glassy-eyed at the front of the room. Students not understanding and not learning.

In the elmenetary schools, it looks more damaging. Students crying because they can’t read in kindergarten, 6-year-olds without constructive play, inappropriate tasks far above students’ developmental abilities. Hours upon hours of testing students individually while pretty much ignoring the rest of the class.

Does that sound like a class your want you child to attend? No, it doesn’t. You want to see joy in your child when they talk about school. You want to see a teacher that loves her job and inspires your children to learn.

Do you know what creates JOY and LEARNING in classrooms? Teacher tenure.

Teacher tenure affords us the ability to say “I will not teach something that will damage my students intellectually, emotionally, or physically.”

Teacher tenure is what creates magic in classrooms.

It creates a safe zone that protects us from unfounded allegations as well. Talk to a teacher; tenure doesn’t protect bad teachers, it protects all teachers. We can be removed from our positions for even a hint of misconduct. We aren’t even required to be told what we are being investigated for. We are entitled to due process through tenure, because guess what? All kids lie.

They lie to get approval, for their parents, for gang related politics, or because they think they will get in trouble if they tell the truth. They lie because they are children and don’t fully understand cause and effect.

I challenge you to spend 8 hrs a day not only watching, but disciplining 30 kids in a room- or for high school teachers – 100+ kids a day. Keep iPhone addicted teenagers engaged, gang members from recruiting. Keep kids clean, fed, and clothed because their parents can’t afford to.

Compartmentalize rape, child abuse, substance abuse, murder, suicide, drug trafficking, and parents that scream at you because they don’t know what to do with their kid either.

Spend time with special needs children, ADHD children, violent children, and starving children. Get hit, have desks thrown at you, listen to the words “Suck my fucking dick!” and “Lick my pussy!” and “Fuck you, you cunt, you don’t own me.” so many times that you don’t register them anymore.

Then create the magic that is teaching.

When you’re finished, go home, smile, and tell your spouse that you day went well.

We couldn’t do that without tenure. We couldn’t be sure that the time we put our hands up to make sure that we weren’t hit, we wouldn’t lose our job. That calling CPS on a parent could get us fired. That teaching a book that someone decided to not like would jeopardize our career. That hugging a crying child would get us fired for sexual harassment.

Teacher tenure is not the enemy.

The enemy is multi-billion dollar companies making money off of your children. Multi billion dollar companies with BUSINESSMEN figuring out how to squeeze you for the most money with fear mongering and making you believe that if you don’t buy or do x, y, and z then your child will be a “failure” or “unsafe”. I bet The View’s ratings just shot up. Better ratings = more money. It’s not that hard to see through.

The enemy is forgetting that it takes a village, and blaming the teachers when the village has left them all alone.

So tonight look at your own children and, knowing what horrible things lurk in the world, thank whatever gods you believe in that when they go to school you can know that they are safe.

They are safe because their teachers love them, nurture them, and care for them when you can’t.

And if you don’t like the system there is an alternative – quit your job and do mine – homeschool your kids.

Just don’t remove the joy and magic of learning from millions of students’ lives because you think you know what you’re taking about when you bash teacher tenure.

-Kelly

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