All in a (hard) day’s work at school
You’ve driven your children to the entrance of a school building. As they enter through the doors, the school is surrounded by cement. No lawns or flowers present, but perhaps a snow bank covering the entrance with only a tunneled walkway to the front door. A flagpole, with the U.S. flag and state flag are missing. Windows don’t exist, as a teacher doesn’t have the time to clean, much less, look out of them.Your children enter a classroom, led by one man or woman. (For the sake of this letter, let’s keep it Female gender.) There’s nothing on the walls as teacher only has time to teach and meet California state standards six hours a day. If your children don’t perform and meet the expected test scores, a 30 minute lunch/recess break is out of the question. Absolutely no art or any creative course is taught because teacher doesn’t have time to vacuum, clean restrooms and empty the garbage and teach to the state standards. High test scores mean dollars to the school district administration. The message light on teacher’s phone has lit up once, no, twice, “Oh great. Now 14 messages have come through.” Uh, oh, now 32! Wow, in the good old days, teacher only had 20 messages to retrieve. But with budget cuts, teacher is the only employee, money is flowing in and clerical duties have been dumped on the super-employee – the teacher.”Students, pull out your lunches, and begin eating. No, better yet, follow me and you can eat in the hallway, while I take a bathroom break. What Johnny? You didn’t bring a lunch? Oh, well. Guess you don’t eat today. Don’t drive? That’s your problem. I have to go to the bathroom, then watch you go out and play. We only have three hours left.” Oh, did I mention meeting those CA state standards?Once the hallway adventure is over, we play for 30 minutes, as that gives Teacher time for filing, ordering supplies, writing grants/book orders, copy five lesson plans for five independent students who are going to Hawaii, (Hey! This is teacher’s prep!), decorate bulletin boards, check homework packets, grade papers/reports, the bell rings. “Darn. I’m still cleaning the lunch mess those children made while using the restroom. Margaret, can you watch my class while I retrieve my messages? Today I only have 22.””Your messages? Who’s going to watch my kids, while I listen to mine? Besides, I have 108 transcripts to mail out to colleges by 4 p.m. and Officer Jones is waiting for eight discipline reports to be filed. “Listen to your own blankety, blank messages and mark me down as a ‘no’ for TGIF! Mark your self down as a ‘no.’ Do I look like the Activities Director?”Because of the expected test scores, teacher has class open their textbook to page 89. The class will participate in a “I feel good, you feel good” lesson. “Susie, keep up. If I catch you daydreaming one more time, you’re going to be out in the hall.””But Teacher, you didn’t give me my medication and I’m very distraught over my parent’s divorce! So, teacher, YOU deal with it.”Uh, oh, the flu is going around and now someone has thrown up. Margaret’s screaming for help as three of her students are vomiting. “Run and get me paper towels.””Get your own towels, Mrs. Jones. My daddy says I ain’t doin no grunt work. I’m here to learn.”Did I mention those CA test scores yet?The final bell of the day has rung. 149 cars are lined up on the street while many children have opted to walk to mom’s workplace. One hour later, the building is empty and teacher plugs in her vacuum cleaner. Looking out the window, she wonders how Coach Smith will ever clean his room as he leads 60 players to the state playoffs.Coach Smith’s a man. If he’s like teacher’s husband, he’ll just kick the garbage over and teach physics “hands-on!” As teacher shuts her lights off, fumbles for her keys, her eyes focus on a man and woman coming up the dark hallway. “Hola, Maestra. Donde es el Espanol papel de Engles y el mathematico para chapters uno through cinco due by Friday para mi Felipe? Maestra, Maestra, you okay? You look muy blanco!”Support your local district’s classified employees. They are the service worker’s in your children’s day. Without them, your children’s test scores dollares could be spent on building a new certificated mental health facility in your backyard. Is 64 Acres still up for grabs?Susan L. Carrillo is a member of the Classified School Employee AssociationLocal Chapter #383 and secretary at Tahoe Lake Elementary.
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