According to a new poll by the New York Times/CBS News, reported in today’s New York Times,
Joblessness has wreaked financial and emotional havoc on the lives of many of those out of work, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll of unemployed adults, causing major life changes, mental health issues and trouble maintaining even basic necessities.
I’ve read and heard little about how school are helping children to understand what is happening to their parents, how they’re trying to articulate for children the reasons for becoming educated in uncertain times, how they are teaching children to be deeply proud of struggling parents.
I’ve read and heard little about how schools are now explaining that reward does not always go to those who have worked very hard.
These would seem to be essential lessons in this changing world.
You wrote, “I’ve read and heard little about how school are helping children to understand what is happening to their parents, how they’re trying to articulate for children the reasons for becoming educated in uncertain times…”
I was a public school teacher for thirty years (1975 – 2005). I don’t recall the year when I proposed that the school district start a public relations program that would focus on the importance of becoming educated. I was told that wasn’t the school district’s job that classroom teachers should do it.
However, teachers in the school district where I taught were never trained to teach the reason for becoming educated in uncertain times or even in times when the economy is more stable. In California, where I taught, we had a state mandated curriculum, which was (and probably still is) an outline for all the skills each teacher in each subject had to teach for each grade level.
The state curriculum in each subject is designed to raise scores in the standardized tests that measured student growth, which is a mandate by “No Child Left Behind”. If the tests do not test the importance of becoming educated, no one teaches it unless teachers do it on their own by incorporating it in a lesson, which I did each year.
There was no material for me to teach this. I had to do research to put a lesson together then tie it to the curriculum in some way so that I could justify teaching my students the importance of becoming educated.
I have no idea how many teachers may do this as I did. If it isn’t in the standardized test, then it won’t be part of the curriculum guide and teachers will not be encouraged to do this.
As it is, what teachers are required to teach is overwhelming in addition to all the other challenges faced each day.
I still have friends (teachers) in the classroom. One friend told me that he is now required to make so many parent contacts in an attempt to get the students to do the homework and study that he doesn’t have time to correct the work his students do turn in so he had to hire a retired teacher at $25 an hour to correct work for him.
To prove that he was making his daily parent contacts, he has to fill out paper work for each call. While I was still teaching, my workweeks were often 60 to 80 hours and sometimes I’d work 100-hour workweeks. Teachers are not paid overtime since most are paid a monthly salary.
In addition, teachers in the school district where I worked were required to stand after school duty at sporting events a certain number of hours after school — about twenty each year.
A teacher may only be in class with his or her students five or six hours a day during a school day but many teachers take work home as I did. To keep up, I corrected papers while eating lunch and kept the classroom open for students that wanted a place to work or get help.
I was an English and journalism teacher. I often arrived at six in the morning when the gates were unlocked and sometimes didn’t get home until almost midnight. Most days I’d be home by six PM and work until nine or ten correcting papers and getting ready for lessons the next day.
Thanks for the comment. All my public school teaching was in low-income schools where parent partnerships were very challenging to establish.
I’m not clear what in my blog you see that makes you think that I don’t understand working conditions of teachers and the challenges of testing. I work with hundreds of teachers a year now — both preservice and inservice, and I’m pretty clear about all that you write here.
But blaming parents for all of this? That gets us where? The parents aren’t demanding that the teachers document all contact with them… and every school I know of that does have healthy parent relationships would probably just shake their heads that any school would think that calling parents over and over to get them to make kids do homework probably won’t work at all….there are much better things working in lots of schools. Parents didn’t come up with NCLB or set the rules for monitoring sports events.
My post was about the pretty-well documented trauma that many families are experiencing in this economy. Piling blame for NCLB on them besides is curious. I have no idea why you think I was advocating for a public relations program — that would be ridiculous.