To Ms, with Love

Not exactly.  I can’t work the miracles Sidney Poitier did in “To Sir with Love”.  (Some of you are old enough to remember that movie.)  I had been asked to “transition” the new person who would take my math position today.  She didn’t show up.  Paperwork.  So I had all of my classes again. 

And first thing this morning I was asked to please sign a contract.  Turns out one of the other math teachers in a position like mine (comfortable enough in retirement, but wanting to make a few more bucks to offset the market downturn) who has also been substituting for himself said that he would not sign a contract.  Similar reasons.  Then the class sizes in the college-bound math courses were increased in size, and the woman teaching those is furious.  Being quite young, she needs the job, but vows to quit by the end of the year and find another position.  Another math teacher told me that he wanted to quit, but he needed the money.  (No, I would not sign.)

So with no pressure on me, I was fairly relaxed and explained to all of my students that I would be leaving, and most of them in my first four classes were quite sad, and a few pleaded with me (!) to stay, as I was such a good teacher!  Fairly relaxed until the fifth class, which was worse than it had been Friday.  Two more boys were added to the class.  Only about four kids listened to the lesson.  None of the others will even do the page and a half worksheet for homework.  Half a dozen reeked of pot.

Calls were made to the junior high that my replacement was leaving, asking where she was, and the secretary was told that the paperwork was being hand delivered to the central office as we spoke.  So tomorrow I shall “transition” the new teacher.  Because she has taught junior high, she should be able to handle the immaturity, but I feel very sorry for her in that 7th period class.  Will ask one of the assistant principals if he or she could intervene just at the beginning of the period.

Arizona made the front page of this Sunday’s New York Times with an article about education and how technology, computers in the classrooms, has not improved the scores on standardized tests.  But what interested me was the quote that student performance… did not get much worse unless classes rose above 30.  My oh my, that includes all three of my geometry classes.  36 students, even when 40% of them are not failing, are too many in a class.

In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores
Professor Cuban at Stanford said research showed that student performance did not improve significantly until classes fell under roughly 15 students, and did not get much worse unless they rose above 30.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/technology/technology-in-schools-faces-questions-on-value.html?pagewanted=5&_r=1&sq=In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores&st=cse&scp=1

This next article was in Saturday’s Arizona Daily Star, but the statistics are a year and a half old:

AZ school districts cut 10,000 jobs in year – Class sizes balloon; ‘duties don’t go away’
Arizona school districts cut more than 10,000 employees – including 6,640 instructors – from March 2009 to March 2010, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  School jobs were the largest part of 13,688 positions cut by local governments, which reduced overall employment by 5 percent in that year.
http://azstarnet.com/business/local/article_a2ee7598-9e7e-50cb-9d17-66fe6a5446e6.html

I am composing a letter to John Huppenthal, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, and I suggest that you do the same.  I have had more comments on my last blog, both to the blog and personally to my email address than to any other blog, so I know there are kindred spirits out there.  Please relay your experiences to him. Here is his email address,
http://www.ade.az.gov/aboutade/iwanttotellyou.asp

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