Tag Archives: Mississippi educators

12 Things Only Retiring Teachers Can Say to Parents

For the most part teachers are lay low and go with the flow people. Even when they are abused and misused, they tend to keep their mouths shut and go quietly about their business. It’s not that they are spineless or apathetic; it’s about survival. In a world that regards teachers as a “dime a dozen,” teachers have learned staying under the radar helps ensure job security. Most teachers have a spouse and children at home who like having a roof over their heads, food on the table, and Walmart clothes on their backs, so teachers are reluctant to cause trouble since keeping their job is a must. Also, for the majority of teachers, teaching is not just a job. It is a profession they enjoy immensely and would like to continue until they retire, so they do whatever they need to do or roll with whatever they need to roll with to make it to retirement.

However, even people who need job security and love their profession can be pushed to a breaking point and snap like an over-wound rubber band.   Fortunately, patience is a key teacher characteristic, so although they may go home and cry themselves to sleep and drive their family crazy with uncontrollable hysterical ravings, teachers seldom snap, and when they do, they rarely go postal. They are more likely to push back by showing up at school one day decked out in tennis shoes, jeans, and a V-neck tie-dyed t-shirt that displays ample cleavage.  If they snap with a parent, they might get really bold and say something like, “You’re right, we wouldn’t want to do anything to over stress your sweet baby, so I am going to tear up that old nasty assignment and give him an A,” or “I don’t know what I was thinking with such overly high expectations. That was really inconsiderate of your child and your family on my part.” Such patronizingly simple jabs tend to slide over the heads of many parents or flow unobstructed through one ear and out the other, which for teachers is frustrating and job saving at the same time. Teachers would really like to say, “If you would make your child get off his butt and study, neither one of you would be so stressed,” or “Obviously, my expectations have exceeded you and your child’s functional intellectual capacity.” But, after years of practiced constraint and civility, teachers don’t say what they really would like to say because they like and need their teaching job.

Teachers might be brave and rebellious enough to openly “dis” the faculty dress code, but telling a parent what is actually on their minds would be a stretch even for a teacher who has snapped. Teachers might think it, but they are not geared to be directly confrontational, so they bite their lip and walk away. They are very selective about the battles they fight, which are generally very few. They are much more likely to unload at home than they are on the job. However, God in his infinite wisdom provided teachers the perfect opportunity to unload on the job – RETIREMENT! Retirement is the emancipation of a teacher’s soul and spirit. Once they say the magic words, “I am retiring,” IT IS ON! At that point, it becomes their choice whether they remain docile and polite or let their hair down and go for the jugular. What can the establishment or parents do if a retiring teacher speaks his/her mind – FIRE them? Well, maybe, but it is not likely. However, after years of engineered submissiveness, few retiring teachers exercise the freedom to tell parents what is really on their minds, but if they did, it might not be strange to hear them say . . . .

  1. Yes, I need volunteers in my classroom, but not you;
  2. Your child is at a stage of his life where he must decide on a career or prison;
  3. Your child needs me more than I need him;
  4. Sure, your child can take the test over if he does poorly. How about this time next year?
  5. What is the best way for you to help your child with her classwork? How about stop texting her during class?
  6. I agree your child is not a bully. He’s a predator;
  7. Why did I give your child an F on his test? Well, instead of grading on a traditional Bell Curve, I decided to grade on a Color Curve, and your child was wearing the wrong color that day;
  8. Your child’s inability to pass is not a teaching problem. It’s a DNA problem;
  9. Like you, I want what is best for your child, and it is best for you to take your child home and never bring him back here again;
  10. I believe homeschool is the best option for you and your child since I don’t believe I have ever heard of anyone failing homeschool;
  11. I was very impressed with your coloring on your child’s project; and
  12. Go ahead and call the superintendent. He and I had a great discussion about you and your child last night over at couple of beers at Chili’s.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on the side of the creek where you stand, retiring teachers are not likely to utter any of these. They might be able to get away with saying such things, but a teacher who has spent twenty-five plus years doing what is right for kids is not likely to display such an acid tongue. With very few exceptions, retiring teachers will continue to bite their tongues and talk with kids and parents as they always have – with compassion, understanding, and class. Why? That is how teachers are made.

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD   January 9, 2016

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2015 Legislators vs Educators: The Fight to Keep Mississippi on the Bottom

Governor Phil Bryant says the majority of the public is against the Common Core Standards, so he and the state legislators are obligated to help the public get what it wants by ousting the standards from state schools. However, when a petition requiring Mississippi fully fund education by amending the state constitution was signed by over 116,000 certified voters, the Governor hedged on supporting the public’s will in favor of supporting an alternative proposal by the state legislature designed to confuse the issue and almost assuredly defeat the public initiative. What gives? Does the Governor support the public or not? He is clear about his opposition to the Common Core Standards, and it is obvious he doesn’t support fully funding MAEP. So, when it comes to education, what does he support; what does he really want? He says he wants to see results. He claims too much money has been thrown at education with too little to show for it. He argues money is not the answer, but how would he know since he has played a significant role in short changing Mississippi K-12 education by 1.5 billion dollars over the past several years. His argument for results before funding or standards doesn’t hold water; to get results that lift Mississippi off the bottom of student performance, there must be adequate funding and rigorous standards in place, but maybe results are not the real reason behind his war on education.

Educators across Mississippi agree there is room for improvement, and they would like nothing better than to provide the Governor and state legislators the results they want to see. However, they are met with resistance from the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and state legislators at every turn. Why? It would be hard to believe the legislators are diabolical people out to get educators, but something smells in Mississippi. It seems the mindset in Jackson is to do whatever it takes to tear down K-12 education in the state, but to what end? Why are so many state legislators opposing more rigorous standards and full funding for education in one breath while calling for better student performance results in another? Many of these people are business men and women, so they should understand that outcomes are achieved in direct proportion to what you put in – whether it is in private business or education. You get what you pay and prepare for, so what gives in the Mississippi legislature?

It is becoming clear that opponents in the state legislature to rigorous standards and full funding of education want to keep Mississippi where it has been for over a hundred years – on the bottom educationally and economically. The Governor, Lieutenant Governor and many state legislators have never had any intention of fully funding education nor have they been serious about improving rigor and student achievement in the classroom. They want to ensure the present balance of the “haves” and the “have nots;” that is where their power lies, but of course, there is no balance between the two. Without rigorous education standards to challenge the state’s children as well as adequate funding to keep quality teachers in the classrooms, pay for resources and programs, and maintain adequate facilities, Mississippi is guaranteed to maintain its current socioeconomic imbalance, cheap labor force, and the submissive “Yes, Master” mentality of the poor. Adam Smith who is often cited as the “father of modern economics,” probably said it best, “The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.” In Mississippi the aspirations of the “have nots” have never known equality with the “haves,” nor can they ever hope or dream of true equality in their fight for true liberty and pursuit of happiness without an education to give wings to their aspirations. Without properly educating all children, Mississippi’s perennial position of last in just about every education and economic category will continue unabated.

If the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the many legislators who have made it clear they have given up on children, teachers, and Mississippi education as a whole get their way, the only thing we will need to seal the deal as permanent bottom dwellers will be a state symbol for education in Mississippi. We have a state bird, state flower, and maybe soon even a state book. All these symbols, the mockingbird, the magnolia, and the Bible tell who we are as Mississippians. If the Common Core Standards are cast out and full funding of MAEP is not upheld, maybe the perfect state symbol for education would be a crumbling school house. What symbol would better explain our state leadership, our priorities, and who we are as Mississippians?

JL

©Jack Linton, January 18, 2015