Friday, December 18, 2009

And You Wondered What's Wrong with America's Public Schools (Part 4)

Part 3 is here.

All day I'd meant to call the Castellcoch district's substitute teacher dispatcher Mrs. Rockslide* as soon as I got home. I meant to find out what the H-E-double-hockey-sticks was going on. Miss Birdsong* told me this morning that Mrs. Rockslide had called her on Wednesday to tell her to come in on Friday. Mrs. Rockslide told me on Tuesday I'd be in all week. Did she just get mixed up?

I called Mrs. Rockslide. And I was nice about it. It's not Christian or pastoral or fair to go ripping on people without cause. So I said, "Mrs. Rockslide, I was wondering what happened today . . . "

And the short version is that the whole thing was the principal Mr. Chummy's* decision. He found out after two days that I (in cahoots with Ms. Haluska--shock!) was actually expecting the students to do some work, be I sub or be I none. And, says Mrs. Rockslide, Mr. Chummy doesn't believe in substitute teachers actually teaching or getting the students to work. He thinks it alienates the kids and makes them think the Administration Is Not Their Friend. And as the new principal, his first goal and intention is that all students should know that The Administration Is Their Friend. So, "He prefers young substitutes who won't stand up to the kids and won't make them do anything."

Said I, "Is he suicidal? I talked to one teacher today who says discipline is so bad at Castellcoch, there'll probably be attacks on teachers by next May!"

"I know," and I could visualize her head shaking in perplexity. "Discipline is the worst it's ever been. A lot of substitutes refuse to come here."

"Does he have a death wish for the school? Does he really want things to get so bad nobody can learn anything?"

"I know! I told Mrs. Berlin when she called Wednesday that you were in the Biology class till Christmas break. And I had Miss Birdsong scheduled in for Mr. Chucovich* [a Social Studies teacher] on Monday. But she said Mr. Chummy wanted it changed, and I couldn't do anything about it."

Apparently she wasn't allowed to call and tell me about the switchover, either. So all yesterday I'm thinking and planning and working--?


She was glad I called, as this has been bothering her. She knows it wasn't fair to me or to the kids. She tries to stand up for the substitutes, but feels she's alone in the battle. And what was she to do with Mr. Chucovich's classes on Monday? Mr. Chummy definitely has said Miss Birdsong is to take the Biology kids that day as well. Could I, would I?

I really wished I could have said, "I'm sorry, no." But, as I admitted to Mrs. Rockslide, I'm on emergency unemployment compensation. And if I miss "any available work," I lose not only the money I would have made, I also lose the same amount in UC benefits. I am poor and struggling. You, Mrs. Rockslide, have just offered me "available work." You have me over a barrel. Yes, I will substitute for Mr. Chucovich on Monday.

"But wait a minute," I said. "If I come in for Mr. Chucovich, I'll make his kids work as well."

"Yes, but the thinking is, it's only for one day."

"Oh, yes, right. Of course. I can't do that much 'damage' in that short a time."

"Yes. He wants the substitutes young and inexperienced."

(Let us pause for grimly ironic laughter.)

Shall I now draw an explicit moral on the egregious state of public schools in these United States? No, you may come to your own conclusions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, I'm about to scream.


Okay, better now. How appalling! No wonder my professors are very happy with my drive and abilities and the fact I really want to be there...

No way should that man be principal. No way.