Thousands of kids showed up for Summer School this week and I, for one, was not there to greet them.
Teaching in DISD is a hard job; teaching Summer School in DISD is even harder.
During the regular school year, teachers battle a combination of discipline problems, unresponsive parents, unreasonable test score expectations and now, with Miles, a constant stream of fishy spot observations and criticism of DOLs regardless of a teacher’s effectiveness as measured by test scores. Additionally, the omnipresent threat of job loss based on spot obs (and supported by public comments from teachers in Miles’ last district) hangs like a black cloud over every teacher’s head.
During Summer School, the conditions worsen. The entire student body consists of the students who failed despite all interventions. A large percentage of these same students are disruptive and unable to behave appropriately in a classroom. It’s a tough gig to jump in the trenches with so many below-level kids and get them up to speed so they can promote to the next grade.
In the past, however, hundreds of DISD teachers signed up to teach Summer School anyway.
This year things are very different. This year, on top of the already exhausting conditions, teachers were promised more walk-through’s to “catch” teachers being bad, more spot observations and more scrutiny of the vaguely defined DOLs; in short, teachers were promised more opportunities to get fired.
So this year, thousands of teachers like me decided that the terrible conditions combined with Miles’ lust for churn just weren’t worth it. As teachers, we saw the shortage of Summer School teachers coming. We read the emails sent from Summer School principals during the last weeks of school listing all of the openings they needed to fill. No one remembers receiving emails like that and certainly not so many of them. We talked to teachers on our own campuses about the obvious shortage and what that would mean for the few brave souls who did sign up to teach. We talked to teachers at other campuses and learned that they, too, weren’t up for more put-downs by Team Miles.
The public must understand that teachers are not “boycotting” Summer School; it’s not as if teachers signed up and then failed to show up. Instead, the public must understand that working conditions and the threat of job loss are preventing teachers from doing what they are trained to do.
I didn’t sign up to teach Summer School and neither did thousands of others teachers. If working conditions for DISD teachers do not improve, the Summer School shortage is but a coming preview of what kids and parents will face in August.
Don’t blame the teachers; blame Mike Miles.