# An English teacher looks at the new student writing expectations and shrieks in horror. I would, too.

Still waiting for DOE to respond to this note a high school English teacher sent me last week:

I was just given a copy of the GaDOE’s Curriculum Maps for ELA 9-12th grades. I need some help from you before I quit my job and lead the charge for every other high school English teacher to do the same. I have taught for many years, am am good at my job, am an asset to the school at which I teach, and love teaching.

I have rolled with the punches of increased class size, decreased paycheck size and all the other gripe-worthy problems in education. I am not a whiner, a crier (literally or figuratively) or a complainer, but after today, having seen a document that reduced me to tears, I am inspired to leave teaching in the state of Georgia.

Today I saw the CCGPS Curriculum Map. I have provided the link for the 9th Grade ELA CCGPS Map for you.

If I am reading this document correctly, I have four nine- week sections. Fair enough. In each nine-week section I have to tackle one major piece of literature and seven small pieces of literature, easily done, and honestly probably a low number.

Here is the rub. It suggests that my students are to write 4-6 analyses and 1-2 narratives every nine weeks. Let’s do some math. On the low end, I am looking at grading 20 and at the high end 32 process writings a year.

Here is a little Math for you and a little fact about the population I serve. First the fact: If Johnny writes it, his parents will want meaningful feedback written on it or on a rubric and will complain if they don’t get it.

Now for the Math: 20 x 35 (my class sizes this year) = 700 papers per year. 700 x 5 (the number of classes I will teach) =3500. Each paper takes me a minimum of 10 minutes to grade. I will spend 35,000 minute or 583.33 hours or 24.3 days or 72.872 8 hour work days a year grading only students’ written assignments. THIS IS THE LOW END!!!

I would do the Math for 32 papers, but I may have to jump out the window if I do. Also, I get a grand total of 9,900 minutes or 165 hours of planning time. During those times I plan and do everything else teachers are asked to do—I am going to spare you the list that I know you have seen too many times.

I send you this e-mail not in an effort to gripe to you about my woes, but to ask you to help me get to the bottom of this ridiculousness. I get that the more kids write the better writers they become. My kids write often, but not 20-32 full process papers a year. Please help me and every English teacher in the state by getting some clarification on this matter.

The DOE has passed the information to the county curriculum coordinators, and they are going to treat this document as final CCGPS ELA edict from on high. I guess what I am asking you to do is investigate the DOE’s intentions with its ELA curriculum mapping before I grab my pitchfork and torch and storm their great fortress (or at the very least get arrested for indecent exposure)!!!

P.S Ok, so I did the high end math without jumping out of a window: 32 papers a year requires, 933 hours or 116 (8 hour) work days of pro bono grading. What can I say; hyperbole makes me happy!

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

Colonel Jack

April 26th, 2012
9:41 am

Wow. Just … wow. If the DOE will do this to high school teachers – obviously without considering any consequences – what are they going to foist on us middle school teachers?

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
9:41 am

Yeah yeah yeah. All you teachers are just breakin my heart. You chose teaching because you thought it was glorified babysitting, then you found out you may have to do some work and that really bummed you out.

Do your job, change careers or SHUT UP!!

Dunwoody Mom

April 26th, 2012
9:42 am

I reviewed the link above for the ELA CCCPS and I’m confused. It seems to very much reflect the type of activities students were assigned in English class back in my day (when there no class size requirements). I remember many, many reading assignments, writing either paragraphs or full papers almost on a daily basis, with full papers due at the end of a session. I don’t recall that our teachers struggled to read, critique or grade said papers.

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
9:55 am

I recall my algebra teachers having to grade anywhere between 60 to 120 papers per night. Yes, we had homework everynight.

Dr. John Trotter

April 26th, 2012
9:57 am

It’s all insane. What happened to the days when the teachers were empowered to do their jobs…in their own discretion…without all of the interference and kibitzing from State Educrats? What happened to the days when the teachers were empowered both in laying down their rules relative to academics and student comportment? I remember sitting in Mrs. Hayes’s Sophomore English class — in the afternoon, after lunch, upstairs, with no air condition — and learning and re-learning the rules of grammar. We learned how to write cogent sentences and paragraphs — and with no foolishness allowed in the classroom. The mere idea that one of us students would “bow up” to Mrs. Hayes is fanciful. Our Assistant Principal at the time (he later spent about 30 years there as principal), Mr. Williams Screws, would have thrown the proverbial book [or, perhaps a literal book! Ha!] at us. Mr. Screws was revered by us students, but we knew that he did not play when it came to supporting the teachers!

Yes, at Jordan High, we learned to diagram sentences by obediently going to the chalk board and doing it in front of the entire class. If we couldn’t correctly diagram the sentences, then we were properly embarrassed. Yes, properly embarrassed. Embarrassment is a great, healthy way of motivating students. It works. Now, as a teacher, you know which students are doing their best and when to tread very lightly on this embarrassment tool. But, for those scoundrels who just did not do their work and apply themselves — yes, you were embarrassed! Mrs. Hayes would properly embarrass us. It’s funny, but I learned that the embarrassment tool is used plentifully in law school as well…with the dreaded Socratic Method. If you brought your butt to class without preparing (having read many cases the night before) and you were called on in class and could not answer the professor’s queries, you were embarrassed!

But, today… Ah, today… All of the onus for the child to learn is put on the back of his teacher. The teacher MUST do this. The teacher MUST do that. What MUST Johnny do? What MUST Johnny’s parents do? Nothing. It’s all about putting the onus and pressure on Johnny’s teachers, and this doesn’t work. Johnny’s teacher can only teach Johnny; she can’t learn Johnny. That’s not even proper English. © JRAT, April 26, 2012.

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
9:58 am

Howard: volunteering for a job, perhaps? You’d think differently if you were to try it for a while. Sounds like there might be some openings.

As to the writing requirement, we’re still figuring that one out at my school. There’s not a length specified, and we’re finding that analyses can be something as simple as analyzing a character or an argument in a reading selection. Those can be fairly short writings. The narratives, we’re hoping, can be a combination of one fairly short piece followed by a bigger piece as a summative writing. The summative writings would require the in-depth grading that the e-mail author mentions.

We’re hopefully going to get more detail on the requirements in the next couple of months. I’m just not going to panic until I see exactly what the state DOE folks consider an analysis and a narrative.

Dunwoody Mom

April 26th, 2012
10:01 am

Yes, at Jordan High, we learned to diagram sentences by obediently going to the chalk board and doing it in front of the entire class

You didn’t learn how to diagram a sentence until high school? Wow, that’s kind of late in the game, Try Mrs. Jacobson’s 4th grade class at Huntley Hills Elementary back in my day – now that was a teacher that knew how to teach students how to diagram a sentence. She did not let up until we “got it”.

carlosgvv

April 26th, 2012
10:02 am

At the last two companies I worked for, layoffs occured, my overtime was done away with, my salary was cut and my work load was increased considerably. I just had to accept it as I could not afford to quit and risk months or years of unemployment.
I am not unsympathetic to this teacher. I just hope, if she quits, she can find another job and not face months and months(years?) of unemployment.

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
10:04 am

Dunwood Mom: I thought the same thing, but then realized how much more paperwork I do now as a teacher compared to when I started back in the old days. We also have many more meetings, trainings, etc. We seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time planning and writing down what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it, then analyzing data on top of data to judge how we did it that we don’t have a lot of time to actually do it. We’re going to have to push to make sure we’re given a balance of time to grade the writings and provide meaningful feedback.

Scott

April 26th, 2012
10:06 am

Hey Howard, I actually think the article is a little hyperbolic. There are some ways around the extremes of grading each full essay, but the underlying trend is valid. Teachers are being asked to do more work with less time.

It might seem to you that we, I’m a high school English teacher as well, are saying that we don’t want to teach our kids, but in reality, that’s what we want to do. As the politicians and departments of education pile on more work that only appears to be teaching, we have less time to actually teach or prepare meaningful lessons. If we have a finite amount of time and are asked to do more and more superficial tasks, that’s less time for instruction.

The increased number of essays each semester is a perfect example. Students learn from exposure to the writing process. With an increased number of essays, teachers can’t spend as much time revising, editing, and reworking the essays the students are writing. If I assigned twenty papers a semester for my students, and did little to work on them, my students would learn less than they would if I assigned one essay that we labored over all semester.

There is a trend in educational leadership that is detached from the realities of the classroom and quality instruction. What we want is for our leaders to realize the implication their decisions have on classroom instruction.

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
10:15 am

“Teachers are being asked to do more work with less time.”

As is everyone else who is currently employed. This hash that has already been hashed and rehashed. Bottomline is “The Universe is indifferent.’

That being said, do your job or get out.

Towncrier

April 26th, 2012
10:20 am

Wow. Thanks for the informative column. I think this a PERFECT example of government at work. It fails at almost anything it tries to manage, supervise or accomplish. I used to teach writing at a community college and, because I was conscientious and wanted to provide constructive criticism, saw how much extra time was spent grading and marking up compositions. That is why I eventually got out of teaching, though I loved it. I would envy math teachers who only had to mark whether an answer was right or wrong. The educational system in America is broken for a number of reasons, but the DOE is certainly not going to be able to fix it.

Dr. John Trotter

April 26th, 2012
10:20 am

@ Dunwood Mom: No, I didn’t mean to imply that this was the first experience that we had diagramming sentences. Sorry. But, this emphasis on the rules of grammar was what I was hoping came across. It was a constant thing in our schooling process. Today, most of the kids can’t write a lick. Not a lick. Just non-sensical verbiage. Perhaps I exaggerate because I am shocked at their apparent lack of exposure to the rules of grammar.

Scott

April 26th, 2012
10:20 am

Hi Dunwoody Mom,

We are actually being asked to be much more diligent about our responses to students than teachers used to be. One of our main problems is that nothing is ever taken off of our plates, so we are asked to write these papers in which we explore the entire writing process, from conception to revisions and beyond.

While we can do some of the work in smaller chunks, we are faced with too little time to provide useful feedback to our students. To give you an idea of the feedback expected of us, here is a quote about Marzano’s view of feedback – he is THE name in educational reform to many current administrators.

Marzano refers to another meta-analysis, of nearly 8000 studies (!): “the most powerful single modification that enhances achievement is feedback. The simples prescription for improving education must be ‘dollops of feedback.’” Marzano makes these points: “Feedback should be corrective; timely, specific and criterion referenced; and students can effectively provide some of their own feedback.” Rubrics, Marzano goes on to point out, can be a valuable tool for feedback.

While I agree with the idea of providing better feedback, the requirements to do so many essays each semester prohibits this for many of the essays students write.

Principal Teacher

April 26th, 2012
10:21 am

The main problem I see is that differentiation is seemingly ignored or disallowed. Why force a student who already writes well to go through the same number of assignments meant to improve those skills as a student who needs more development in those areas? It is this type of top-down mandated, scripted and inflexible curricular ‘innovations’ that have seriously run down the quality of our schools over the past years under NCLB. This new stuff is shaping up to be NCLB on steroids – not a good thing. Teachers need the flexibility to adapt on the fly for their students’ needs and strengths in order to provide the best educational experiences. This on size fits all, you will all be the same and standardized is killing us.

Principal Teacher

April 26th, 2012
10:21 am

“one size” –

It's ok Howard

April 26th, 2012
10:23 am

We understand that you are unemployed and bitter about not being able to find a job. I’m sure something will turn up eventually.

ByteMe

April 26th, 2012
10:29 am

By my math, that’s less than one paper to grade per student per week.

Let’s re-do the math and help this poor English teacher keep from jumping out the window:

5 classes, max 1 hour each, so that’s 5 hours of teaching per day, 180 school days per year… total teaching time is 900 hours. Add 165 hours of planning time (using her number). 600 hours of grading time (rounding up the low number). We’re at 1600 hours so far, for full-time pay and benefits. Most people work 2000 hours per year for full-time pay and benefits at less personally rewarding jobs.

Teachers need to be paid more, no doubt, because we need to value it more than we do. Same as police and firefighters.

But this teacher’s argument isn’t going to sway people that she’s overworked once they do the math.

ByteMe

April 26th, 2012
10:30 am

Ok, 1665, I lost a number in there. Still not up to 2000 hours.

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
10:32 am

Im gainfully employed my friend and have been for quite sometime. I expect “extra duties as assigned” and ALWAYS rise to the occassioin. These public employees are a pitiful lot. Most live a miserable, self-imposed lifestyle and Im happy for them. ; )

YOU LOSE!!

T-Square

April 26th, 2012
10:33 am

Man, I wish I had of gone to school, gotten an easy degree, and then went into a job where I had built-in 3 months off in the summers, plus Christmas break, spring break, a lot of times fall break, and all the other holidays that schools get. Then, I know I could feel sorry for this teacher that is still being asked to work much less than me, for roughly the same money, and she gets benefits.

justjanny

April 26th, 2012
10:33 am

Your child will be so happy when he or she goes to college and can write! Let’s maintain high standards and hire teachers who can meet and exceed those standards. After all, we are working for the kids, not for the teachers. Thank you Mr. Trotter!

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
10:33 am

justjanny

April 26th, 2012
10:34 am

Oops! Thank you, Mr. Trotter!

T-Square

April 26th, 2012
10:34 am

Okay, I realized as I was posting that I should have said that I wish I had of gone to school and gotten an easy degree. I did go to school, I just chose to do something that didn’t involve babysitting children.

Anonmom

April 26th, 2012
10:35 am

GwinnettParentz

April 26th, 2012
10:47 am

Seems as though the teacher in question should do as the rest of us do when we’re dissatisfied at work — seek another job. Why all the drama?

And who is ‘Ron F” and why does he have so much free time (and column inches)?

Tonya C.

April 26th, 2012
10:51 am

For those who are so quick to calculate, please include before and after school meetings, mandated trainings, parent-teacher conferences, open houses and back to school nights, IEP meetings you may need to sit in on, and PTA meetings you are mandated to attend. In addition, if this teacher sponsors a club or sport make sure to add that too.

He/She only referenced the curriculum coverage, A teacher’s job goes beyond that.

It's ok T-Square

April 26th, 2012
10:53 am

Your “real” degree now allows you to be unemployed and sit at home responding to blogs.

ByteMe

April 26th, 2012
10:54 am

please include before and after school meetings, mandated trainings, parent-teacher conferences, open houses and back to school nights, IEP meetings you may need to sit in on, and PTA meetings you are mandated to attend. In addition, if this teacher sponsors a club or sport make sure to add that too.

Does that really total 300 more hours? That would just get them up to the number of hours the average full-time worker is supposed to work, and we all know about working overtime and weekends when the boss says to….

T-Square

April 26th, 2012
10:55 am

Still though, they’re being asked to work far less than most people do for, yet they get paid for full time work, and have awesome benefits. I work more than full time, barely get paid for it, and have never worked anywhere with benefits. You can try and rationalize it anyway you want, but no matter how much I respect teachers for what they do, I lose that respect very quickly when they start complaining because they’re asked to actually do their jobs.

teacher&mom

April 26th, 2012
11:04 am

@Anonmom: Interestingly enough, my 9th grader has read most the books you mentioned in his public school. In addition, he’s also read the “Hunger Games”,”To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Speak”, “Anthem”, “Fahrenheit 451″, along with lots of note cards and writing assignments in his Lit class and Civics class. He will also come home with a summer reading list and assignments to complete before school starts.

I’m pleased with his progress. However, his teacher is frustrated because she has 30+ students in her classes (6 total classes, some as large as 36) and feels the quality of her written feedback has dropped this year due to the large class size. She’s actually taken a couple of personal leave days this year to “catch up” on her grading.

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
11:04 am

T-square: if it’s so easy, come do it and let me know what you think. Critics love to throw out your argument, and it’s irrelevant. Judge it when you’ve done it. The benefits were offered, once upon a time, as a means to attract better folks to the profession. Trust me, until you’ve done it, you have no idea what the job involves. It looks rosy from the outside. Come try it and you might see things differently.

Richard

April 26th, 2012
11:08 am

Do what my high school teacher did. When he assigned a report he stood in front of the class and said: “You have (some amount of time) for this report so there’s no excuse for grammatical or spelling errors. If I find one error of this type, you will fail the assignment, and I won’t bother reading the rest.”

I imagine he found this to be a time saver.

Another Teacher

April 26th, 2012
11:09 am

@ByteMe – That gets them to the average full-time worker rate in 190 or less days (due to unpaid furloughs). The average full-time worker has 251 days (365 – weekends & 10 vacation days)….Sounds like more than 8 hour days to me!

jnes

April 26th, 2012
11:12 am

I moved on from a high school English position last year, and the grading load and class sizes were two reasons why. I couldn’t imagine having to keep up with these new requirements. The intent of the DOE is admirable, just not pragmatic, and it will have a detrimental effect on student performance as teachers will not be able to provide the kind of feedback and revision opportunities that lead to better writing skills.

The choice for frustrated English teachers is now between providing inferior instruction and leaving the profession. Sucks for Georgia.

T-Square

April 26th, 2012
11:15 am

Ron – I’m sorry, where exactly did I say anything about it being easy? I said the degree was easy. There is a difference. Everyone I went to high school with that went to college and couldn’t handle it, either dropped out or transferred into an education major. I don’t know anyone who could successfully make the argument that a teaching degree is anywhere near as difficult as an engineering, architecture, psychology or most other degrees. But hey, you keep acting like you’re being persecuted by being expected to do your job, and I’ll continue looking at you and laughing because you sound like a fool.

Forced to be Anon >:(

April 26th, 2012
11:19 am

I love arguments that essentially say, “My job is just as bad so you should suffer too.” So– if you are hitting yourself in the face with a cinder block, and I am only hitting myself in the face with a baseball bat, I should be grateful for the baseball bat?

Or– I could just stop hitting myself in the face.

That’s the real crux of that argument. Make all the arguments you like about how teachers should just suffer, because everyone suffers. In the end though, you need to ask for how long teachers will suffer. Quality education requires quality educators. How long do you think quality educators will put up with this? Especially considering how much venom Georgians spew at teachers on blogs like these.

Also- many of these calculations about “full time working hours” are comparing 12 months of work to 9 months of work.

So, you are saying on top of the great responsibility of molding the future, teachers should cram 12 months of work into 9 months of time, allow their profession to be continuously bashed by most people, have the weight of every single of 162 students’ emotional, physical, and academic well-being on their shoulders while completing all the paperwork, meetings, and CYA required by the state?

If they speak out against it, you call them whiners. You tell them–stop whining and just do it.

They may stop whining and do it…but they will only do it until they find something better in the job market. Then they will speak with their feet.

Yeah. That will make education way better.

T-Square

April 26th, 2012
11:19 am

Another Teacher – How many people do you think actually work only 8 hours per day, and actually take their 10 vacation days? What about weekends, do you honestly believe that no one works on the weekends either? Maybe try looking at the real world, and you’ll see that your idea that there are only 251 work days in the year is a tad bit ridiculous.

Poor Baby

April 26th, 2012
11:19 am

@T-Square; sounds like you picked the wrong profession. You should have become a teacher, poor baby.

Jefferson

April 26th, 2012
11:21 am

If school was a 50 week a year deal, there would be enough time.

tchr

April 26th, 2012
11:24 am

1. The new writing and reading requirements under common core are spread across all subject areas. For example, a Lab Report for Chemistry would count as an informative/explanatory text for that student for that year. The ones who should be complaining are the History and Science teachers who are now responsible for all 32 (in HS) CC ELA standards in addition to their own content standards.

2. Where does it say that every assignment has to be a traditional multi-page essay? Have them make a wiki, Facebook page, or some kind of other project what displays the same kinds of learning and curriculum mastery. Be creative, there are other ways to build good critical thinking and writing skills without the 5+ page essay.

3. When have new standards ever changed anything? We will have a completely new set of standards five years form now and another new set five years after that. Do what every teacher does. Look at the standards and determine what the real learning goals are. When you see “W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence”, what does the standard ask for? Not necessarily an essay. It wants kids that can smell out the BS and explain why it’s wrong. I may be mistaken but that’s always been an educational goal for teachers everywhere. The standards are there because we should have a broadly similar educational experience no matter where we go to school. Well, and because the politicians and educational industrial complex assume that their standards are something new and different and impactful.

If you’re looking at the standards or the curriculum guides and assuming that you now have to follow it verbatim, you’re doing it wrong. Innovate, apply best practices, and respond to your students’ needs.

jnes

April 26th, 2012
11:24 am

T-square,

The relative difficulty of college degrees is too subjective for you to even begin to develop a supported opinion on. However, there is evidence to support that higher paying fields attract the best students. So the solution is simple: pay teachers more and get better teachers. But from your previous ill-informed comments, I highly doubt you support that kind of logical reasoning.

April 26th, 2012
11:31 am

Byte me–then there is “duty” directing traffic, monitoring the lunchroom, putting kids on and off buses, etc.

T-Square

April 26th, 2012
11:31 am

Poor Baby – Say what you want, but one day, my profession will actually pay off with the time I’m putting in now. And I won’t be taking money from taxpayers to do it.

Forced to be Anon – You make good points, but I think you miss some of our points. For me, it isn’t whether the teachers are going to eventually leave or not, and I’m not saying you should suffer because I do. I’m saying, everyone has unrealistic demands placed on them by their bosses, and the rest of us have to find ways to deal with them or get fired. Very few people have the security that most teachers enjoy and expect in their jobs. It just doesn’t happen, yet they get upset when they’re asked to do more. I don’t understand it.

Forced to be Anon >:(

April 26th, 2012
11:32 am

“When have new standards ever changed anything? We will have a completely new set of standards five years form now and another new set five years after that. ”

Isn’t that a sad commentary? Teachers have so little trust in the staying power of education fads, they are advised to just wait five years–it will change.

Forced to be Anon >:(

April 26th, 2012
11:34 am

“Say what you want, but one day, my profession will actually pay off with the time I’m putting in now.”

Teaching won’t? For whom? Society in general or just teachers?

Forced to be Anon >:(

April 26th, 2012
11:35 am

“I’m saying, everyone has unrealistic demands placed on them by their bosses, and the rest of us have to find ways to deal with them or get fired.”

Or leave. Again proving my point that teachers will just quit. Is that your solution? Just let them all quit and see what the cat drags in to teach kids?

Again- that will definitely make the profession better. Excellent solution.

T-Square

April 26th, 2012
11:37 am

jnes – You’re right, I would rather that teachers were volunteer only. Did I ever say anything supporting the position you put out there proclaiming it to be mine? I would, in fact, support paying teachers more, but only if they actually earned it. By which I mean, performance based reviews that determined who was actually teaching, and who was merely babysitting. To your first point, you really think that you couldn’t gauge the relative difficulty of an education degree vs an engineering degree? Wow. Just wow.

Scott

April 26th, 2012
11:39 am

Hey T-Square,

I hope you are being contrary now to prove a point, but you must know that teachers don’t just work their contracted hours. I certainly work much more than that, and I’m sure you do as well. I have no doubt you work hard and in the current economy many people who work hard aren’t receiving just compensation.

The argument you are making paints a caricature of what teachers do. No one is trying to imply we should just work our contracted hours. Every English teacher I know works many extra hours with no more than a passing complaint. Most of my contracted hours are spent working with students, teaching classes, planning lessons, doing menial tasks like duty and running copies for those assignments. Most of my grading happens outside of school already. I spend at least ten hours a week grading, and many more trying to innovate or stay up to date on my subject area. What we are worried about is literally not having enough time to actually instruct the kids. Tchr brings up some good points, but the trend from the DOE is to continue piling on things that don’t really impact a student’s learning. We need to streamline the process and give teachers the time to teach effectively. Wouldn’t you agree that focusing on student learning is paramount?

I’m interested in your response, but please try not to pull out a few words for your response, but reply to my overall comment.

tchr

April 26th, 2012
11:41 am

Forced to be Anon >:(
April 26th, 2012
11:32 am

Isn’t that a sad commentary? Teachers have so little trust in the staying power of education fads, they are advised to just wait five years–it will change.

Well if the last 15 years are my guide…

T-Square

April 26th, 2012
11:44 am

Forced to be Anon – My profession will pay off at the bank. And I’m helping society also, but most people don’t see it that way. Meaning most people only think you’re helping society if you’re a fire fighter, police officer, soldier or teacher, they forget about the other professions that make their lives enjoyable, and criticize us for wanting to make money. Some teachers may leave, but in my experience, the better teachers are doing it because they enjoy it, not because they’re getting paid well, or because they think it is easy. Neither of us is ever going to convince the other that they’re wrong about their point of view. I’m assuming your point of view comes from a teaching background, and my point of view comes from going to really crappy public schools, where I heard the teachers making the same complaints being made here, but they weren’t teaching to begin with, so I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t understand it now.

Tonya C.

April 26th, 2012
11:44 am

The argument is ALWAYS about the time teachers have off. Okay then…when a vote comes up to extend the school year make sure you cast your lot for it. Many, if not most, teachers know students need more seat time. That is hard to cover everything in 180 (or 160 in some districts) days. They work the schedule given to them, they have no say in setting it. Not even the year-to-year calendar.

But then everyone would need to fund it, not complain about having ’summers off’ for their kids, and be prepared for year-round homework. No ‘whining’ about sports or activities or vacations. Would that make their reflections on their workload more acceptable?

Maureen Downey

April 26th, 2012
11:45 am

@To all, I received a note from a terrific teacher today that she is leaving the profession at the end of the year, a true loss to her high school. She read the comments on this post about teacher workloads and noted:

“The article you just posted is just one of the reasons I am leaving. Now — watch how many people tell us to shut up, stop complaining (after all we have a job), and just do it. I guess I just don’t understand why people in Georgia hate teachers with such venom.”

Tonya C.

April 26th, 2012
11:46 am

And let me add: public schools are a reflection of the communities in which they sit. I’ve yet to see anything different.

Tonya C.

April 26th, 2012
11:47 am

Maureen:

Not to pry, but please tell it’s not Jordan? Then again a few teachers have said they are throwing in the towel after this year so maybe not.

rob thompson

April 26th, 2012
11:53 am

Howard Finkelstein you are an idiot, you have no idea how hard we work. You couldnt do our job because of your ignorance… moron

Dunwoody Mom

April 26th, 2012
11:53 am

guess I just don’t understand why people in Georgia hate teachers with such venom

Oh, my goodness – this is just a silly statement. Teachers are not “hated”. In fact, most parents/community members I know or have come across value the work that teachers do and are thankful for their presence in our children’s lives.

T-Square

April 26th, 2012
11:55 am

Scott – I’m partially being contrary because it amuses me to get people so upset about things that an anonymous blogger says on a blog. To your points though.

The argument I’m making, may paint a caricature, but it is the caricature that is the perception of those that pay your salaries. We see teachers begging for more money and fewer demands on their time, then we see stories about how they’re cheating their students out of an education by changing answers on standardized tests. If that was isolated to APS, I would have thought it was just an isolated event and let it go, but it seems to have spread throughout the country. Everyone has the part of their job they do at work, and the part they do at home. I continually have to do research, go to lectures, read trade journals, ect. to stay “current” with my profession. I can understand your point about being worried that you might not have enough time to actually teach the students, but that isn’t a new complaint. I’ve been hearing that since I was in high school. Focusing on doing your job, or as you put it, teaching the students, would be preferable, but I haven’t seen evidence that most teachers were doing this before the extra requirements were placed on them.

William Casey

April 26th, 2012
12:05 pm

I just LOVE how anonymous “heroes of business” come on this blog and flog teachers for being lazy. They ALL have “sweatshop” type jobs that make them miserale and they want everyone else to be miserable as well. They also have an “assembly line” view of education. Simply speed-up the line and things will improve. Real learning doesn’t work that way.

Why don’t you anonymous “education experts” man-up, use your real names and give specific examples of how your jobs have become more difficult because of unreasonable demands from management? I didn’t think so. You have no credibility.

I’m not blogging on company time. I’m comfortably retired after teaching, coaching and administering for 31 years. I know that my situation must pi\$\$ you off no end but….. life’s tough. Isn’t it?

William Casey

April 26th, 2012
12:06 pm

“miserable”….. poor editing, I’ll have him fired.

Ole Guy

April 26th, 2012
12:11 pm

There were always a few students who would complain over the fact that, in addition to the time demands of a job, they had to prepare research papers, etc for a demanding instructor. My response: “And this time demand takes you completely by surprise”?

These number, English teacher, are indeed overwhelming. However, just like those students who decided to saddle themselves with both full time jobs and full time course loads…WHAT’S THE JUSTIFICATION FOR YOUR CONCERN? Did you not realize, at the very beginning when you decided to teach, that these demands on your time just might, at some point, approach the “edges of your time envelope”. Spare us the Hamlet act of jumping out of windows…you knew (or SHOULD have known) that high school English, PROPERLY TAUGHT, involves a helluva lot of writing.

Your dedication to the job of preparing youth for the demands of life is admirable, however, you will find little, in the way of public sympathy, when you find yourself in over your head for having to actually teach to a meaningful standard.

YOU WERE NEVER PROMISED A ROSE GARDEN!

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
12:16 pm

Perhaps we all need to take a step back and look at what we’re doing both here and in the world at large. Teachers are under the microscope (for some good reasons), and we’re feeling the pressure. The last ten years, with ridiculous NCLB requirements have been a pressure cooker. My fear is that there won’t be enough good, dedicated folks left to teach by the time the critics and the reformers get through with us. Some here may think that’s good- I just hope you’re ready for the teacher shortage that will ensue. Why do you think they had to give us as much as they did in recent decades? There was a shortage, and there’s one now in Math and Science and Special Ed. we haven’t begun to fill.

Forced to be Anon >:(

April 26th, 2012
12:16 pm

“YOU WERE NEVER PROMISED A ROSE GARDEN!”

Again– the stop whining argument.

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
12:20 pm

For those of you stating “come do our job (teaching) and see how easy it is”. I dont think so, Speedy. You chose your profession because you thought it would be wonderful. Summers off, Xmas holidays, teachers work/screw around days off. Then ya found out, OH NO, Im gonna be held accountable for my lack of actions, my do nothingness and my bad attitude.

Suddenly its poor pitiful me, Im so persecuted, no one likes me then comes the crying and bellyaching. Well suck it up whiners or change careers. HA HA…AHH HAHHAHAHHAAA!!

: )

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
12:22 pm

….and one more thing. Get off the computer and GET TO WORK!!!

Forced to be Anon >:(

April 26th, 2012
12:26 pm

Actually, Fink, Most teachers choose their profession to make a difference for kids.

Dunwoody Mom– look at the posts. Do you see where one might get the idea that GA hates teachers? Look at the news stories. While parents and communities may tell others about teachers they love, the national narrative –and policy (NCLB)– seem to imply otherwise.

If GA loves its teachers so, why doesn’t anyone stand up for them? Or for their own kids?

Dunwoody Mom

April 26th, 2012
12:31 pm

Surely no one with intelligence would take anonymous posts on a message board as “evidence” of anything. If so, that’s double-silly.

Chaos

April 26th, 2012
12:34 pm

@Fink and @t-square:

Piss off. And BTW, teachers don’t get three months off. They get paid for nine months of work, including all of the extra time grading, meeting, etc. I’m so tired of D-bags like you two…and I don’t even teach public school.

Chaos

April 26th, 2012
12:45 pm

@Ole Guy

No teacher I know who went into the profession had any inkling that the GA Gen Assembly would raise the caps on the amount of students permitted in a classroom. It has happened time and again. Teaching english and writing to 24 is one thing…teaching it to 30 times 5 classes a day is a whole horse of a different color.

How would you like your boss to come in and tell you that your work load is going to be increased by 25% with no additional pay??????????

Come on, man. Do you really believe what you type?

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
1:03 pm

“Actually, Fink, Most teachers choose their profession to make a difference for kids.’

Well, thats what they would like for you to believe. Yes the are so Noble, so selfless and giving. Sounds as if you swallowed that one, hook, line and sinker.

Chaos, teachers get much more time off than they deserve and YOU KNOW IT!! Also, me thinks your brain has taken off for good.

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
1:04 pm

“How would you like your boss to come in and tell you that your work load is going to be increased by 25% with no additional pay”

In the private sector, if happens everyday. Sounds as if you live on BubbleHead Blvd.

meredith

April 26th, 2012
1:10 pm

Seems like the author just wants the DOE to clarify the intentions before the paper is considered law. To those few loud negative voices who like to just stir the pot and play no role in education, find a new blog audience. I hear habitiat for humanity and make wish need a good verbal slapping!

Another comment

April 26th, 2012
1:17 pm

Maureen, to me this looks exactly like the New York State Regent’s 9th grade High School curriculum. Similar to what we even did back in the 1974-1978, when I was in High School. My recent research into the SAT scoring Rubric for the Essay, has found that people have found it is identical to the 11th Grade NY State Regent’s Exam. If you have been prepared properly and are truely college ready material doing well on the NY State Regents exam is a good predictor of success. Now New York State has always been bright enough to realize that not everyone is college material and offers a General Diploma with a Vo-tech training in it’s High Schools to this day. Perhaps this is why New York State has always been one of the top 10 states in Education.

I believe that this is a great improvement over what Georgia has been doing. My daughter even took IB Freshman year. I was outraged that the teacher had them doing shoe boxes and cereal boxes in 9th grade IB. Then he pulled grades out of his butt. I wrote him e-mail after e-mail how could doing shoe boxes and cereal boxes be college level or helping to attain college level. He would send me back BS that this was a college level class. I would reply that I took English at a top tier private University and one certainly does not do shoe boxes and cereal boxes in top universities.

My daughter went to Catholic School 3-8, read Huck Finn in 7th or 8th; she then was assigned Huck Finn in 10th grade at a Cobb County School in Honors Lit.; then it wasn’t assigned until 11th grade honors Lit. in Fulton County. The lack of consistancy has adverse effects in taking thing like the SAT.

I have been deeply disturbed by the lack of writing and reading in my daughters Honors classes in high school, She is now in AP in 11th grade, since the school just went and seperated them into AP and on level. She is back in the original Cobb School.

T-Square

April 26th, 2012
1:18 pm

Chaos – Do you really believe what you type? If you get paid, year round, for working 3/4 of the year, you get 1/4 of the year off. Add in the other breaks, and you’re getting closer to 1/3 of the year off. But hey, I’m sure it makes you feel “big” to tell me to piss off, and call me a d-bag because our viewpoints don’t line up. Also, just out of curiosity, do you really believe that most people’s work loads haven’t been increased without getting a bump in pay? I work at a small firm, when I started there were others there, they were subsequently fired. I was forced to pick up their work, yet I didn’t get a raise. Maybe I should send a blogger a letter talking about how unfair it is, and how I’m going to jump out a window if my boss actually expects me to do what I’m paid for. That seems to be what you respect.

hildymac

April 26th, 2012
1:24 pm

Two things: 1, that letter about quitting was so “I’m taking my toys and going home” it’s not even funny and 2, great job either not feeding the trolls (not T-Squared, because he’s actually being rational) or making sure the comments section is free of them so discussion can take place.

Another comment

April 26th, 2012
1:25 pm

As to getting the grading done teachers, give the assignments as in-class assignments. Grade the previous assignments while they are writing the next assignment.

I taught in graduate school and graded papers for another class, while taking a full course load. you can become very profecient at grading for hundreds of students. As a college TA, you also have them stopping by your door, to ask questions at night or on the weekends. Then your boyfriend comes over and says, so I didn’t know you knew him. I am like he is my student. How did he know where you lived? They figured it out. Try that out when you are 21 and your students are 21, 22, 23 +.

Scott

April 26th, 2012
1:25 pm

T-Square,

Thanks for the honest response. I wish we, as a community in this state, could actually have this conversation. I get the humor of riling tempers, but I would submit that this is an important discussion that we need to have. As with most political issues, the rhetoric quickly devolves into name calling.

“Focusing on doing your job, or as you put it, teaching the students, would be preferable, but I haven’t seen evidence that most teachers were doing this before the extra requirements were placed on them.”

From my experience, as a department chair and English teacher, this sentiment is somewhat of a canard that gets repeated often. Certainly there are bad teachers. Certainly there are teachers that whine about reasonable expectations. These though are the exceptions. In fact, most teachers in my building, excluding only a few, work incredibly hard to provide their students the best education they can.

As in any field, there are those that won’t live up to reasonable expectations. I’ll concede that in education some of these lazy teachers are allowed to continue to teach. I would even argue that getting rid of them is one of the most important reforms we can make to education. We need to be able to get rid of bad teachers, but while we hear a lot about those teachers in the news, I can promise you they don’t represent our profession. They are our outliers, as are the bad computer programmers, the server who would rather spit in your food than serve you, or the guy in the cubicle over that everyone hates because he does the bare minimum to get by.

When people dismiss these complaints about these expectations by saying that we should have expected this, or that teachers have always complained about their workload, I’d ask them to look at the recent shift in educational policy. Teachers have always complained, much like any other profession, but the tenor of those complaints has risen around the time of NCLB, the incarnation of a growing focus on statistical results and children as products. Good teachers, teachers who we need in the classroom, are the most frustrated as we are hamstrung more and more by people who have never taught, nor understand how to teach children.

While the focus of this article is on student essays, and as I said earlier, I think it is, to some degree, an exercise in hyperbole, the underlying sentiment is valid. I don’t know what your career is, but for argument’s sake, you are a carpenter. Imagine building a wonderful chair only to have your manager come and cut one of the legs shorter than the rest. What if he then sends you to a professional development class focused on the need for varying sizes of chair legs, instead of giving you the time to fix the mistake he created.

The politicians who are guiding educational policy are moving further and further away from effective teaching. It isn’t that we want to work an 8-5 job. We want to be given the latitude to do that which we do well. Teach. No matter how long it takes.

We are tired of fighting. We aren’t fighting the kids. They are on our team, albeit reluctantly. We are tired of fighting the bureaucracy and policies that keep us from doing our job, and I fervently hope everyone on this forum agrees that being kept from doing our job is a valid complaint.

Old Physics Teacher

April 26th, 2012
1:49 pm

Howard,
“I rise to the occasion”
…I don’t know where to start. I want to laugh, but that might be insulting. I’ll just give you a study that was done many, many years ago concerning the Chief executives of the Fortune 100.

To be in the study, you had to personally know at least 25 of the fellow execs (something that wasn’t that hard). Each exec was asked to evaluate their ability on a Likert scale of 1 – 5 and the execs he/she personally knew on the same scale. What was discovered was that the execs who scored themselves the highest were viewed by their peers to have the least ability; the ones that viewed themselves critically were viewed by their peers to be of significantly higher ability.

The conclusions of the researchers? Generally when someone states “they rise to the occasion,” you can usually assume they didn’t.

And as far as your high school teacher grading your homework, you might remember a guy named Jaime Escalante? The movie Stand And Deliver was drawn from his life. He always assigned voluminous homework, too. HE NEVER GRADED IT. You have to consider the possibility “in the old days,” your teacher didn’t either. There were no administrators, state investigators/evaluators standing looking over his shoulders. Principals let their teachers teach, and they kept the petty bureaucrats off our backs.

Hall Mom

April 26th, 2012
1:51 pm

One possible solution: The requirement is only that they write the assignments, not that you grade them. So when you are stuck with overwhelming numbers like this, randomly grade only a percentage of the writings. The trick is to not tell your students which ones you will grade for which students each time. As long as you tell the class that not all of their assignments will be graded, I think the parents will understand.

mathmom

April 26th, 2012
2:04 pm

One of the many sad parts of this is that the rubric for the GHSWT does not seem to hold grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc in high regard – these constitute just 25% of the score. So, how, exactly, are English teachers supposed to score these papers? And what kinds of comments are expected? If Suzy has wonderful ideas but can’t put a sentence together with proper grammar and punctuation, who cares, really, what she is trying to say? The GADOE is destroying our schools.

April 26th, 2012
2:05 pm

@Scott,
Kudos for a well-written, thoughtful blog entry. Very refreshing.

A working woman

April 26th, 2012
2:10 pm

I understand the teacher wanting a reasonable work schedule but I just don’t think she realizes how the other half lives.

Yestreday was typical.
I was in back to back to back meetings, literally from 8 to 5 with ZERO lunch break and zero time to actually do my work. After leaving the office at five, picking pu my kids from the sitter at 6, home, meal, homework, baths, prayers it is now 9 p.m. and THEN I actually do work on my laptop at home while my boss emailed me until 11 p.m.
It is really hard to be sympathetic about this teacher’s complaints when the rest of us do all we can to keep our jobs.
She doesn’t understand that YES she is whining.
Times are tough. The economy is in the tank.
We who are working are lucky to have jobs…
and if the work is too hard for this teacher…she should try to work in the private sector to get some persepective about what life is like.

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
2:12 pm

Old Physics Teacher

April 26th, 2012
1:49 pm

You are just another sad old teacher who has outlived their usefulness, if ever there was any.

April 26th, 2012
2:12 pm

@T-Squared et. al.:
I believe it was the late Patrick Moynihan who said “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Consider this excerpt from a prior “Get Schooled” blog:
“The estimate of the percentage of new teachers leaving after five years ranges from 30 to 50 percent, with the greatest exodus taking place in urban areas.”

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/10/04/in-1987-88-most-common-experience-level-of-teachers-was-15-years-twenty-years-later-it-was-one-year/?cp=3

And now, consider the graphs on page 3 of this link.
http://www.all4ed.org/files/TeacherInduction.pdf

T-Square (or whoever from the “whiners in a cush job” crowd), can any reasonable person say that the data (aka facts) support your opinion?

Howard Finkelstein

April 26th, 2012
2:23 pm

Funny how private schools have so many FEWER problems. Could it perhaps be the character, moral bankruptcy of these public school teachers, parents, children? Gee Whiz…

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
2:55 pm

Scott: well said! In my building too, most teachers work very, very hard. The old saying about one bad apple applies here in my opinion. The bad are far less than 1% of the total if you really count. And you’re right about the tenor of the complaints. To borrow from your example: There’s a lot of frustration when you realize you are accountable for making that chair look like Brazilian mahogany, and the material you are given is warped pine with too many knot holes and the boards are all split. We cannot control the raw material, but the final product has to be uniform and consistent. Thanks for expressing the idea so eloquently and calmly!

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
2:58 pm

Howard: the moral bankruptcy began within society (read parents, students, citizens in general) and has, over time, affected schools and teachers who have tried not to lose their belief that children can be and should be taught. Enough of us in education have given in that you might think we all have. Trust me- after over twenty years in the profession, I haven’t given up and know many who are still trying to keep the negative from taking over.

Beverly Fraud

April 26th, 2012
3:07 pm

Seems as though the teacher in question should do as the rest of us do when we’re dissatisfied at work — seek another job. Why all the drama?

Thank you GwinnettParentz for exposing your ignorance

Why all the drama? If the teacher leaves, the teaching CONDITIONS remain the same.

If the teaching conditions remain the same, then so do the LEARNING conditions, which means it has a direct effect on YOUR CHILD’S education.

That’s “why all the drama”. Because people have such a MYOPIC “blame teachers first” mentality that get it through their thick heads that if it affects teachers negatively, is many cases it affects CHILDREN negatively.

Formerteacher

April 26th, 2012
3:07 pm

Here is a question for all you non-teachers- when you are evaluated at work, are you judged on YOUR work or on the work of they person in the cubicle next to you? My guess is that you are evaluated on what YOU produced. Teachers, on the other hand, are evaluated on the work produced by someone else. Imagine if tomorrow your boss came in and announced that your job security and potential pay increase was based solely on the performance of the 20 people who sit in desks around you. You look around and see some folks who do a good job, some who do just enough to get by, and you see some real slackers. What do you think your frustration level might be when the slackers’ lack of performance is used to lay blame at your feet for lack of production? That is what teachers are faced with- their jobs hinge on what other people produce. Teachers can only input the information; they can’t make kids learn if the kids don’t want to learn and if the parents don’t care if the kids learn. How is it fair to make them responsible for both input and outcome?
And I am so tired of the “you just wanted an easy job with summers off” argument. Even 10 years ago, before NCLB and all the other “magic bullets”, when I was teaching, it wasn’t easy. I can only imagine how much harder it is for those teachers who really love teaching, who really want their students to learn, who really enjoy the subject(s)they teach, to get up every day and face the ever increasing demands with ever shrinking support – and I’m not talking just about financial support. I’m talking about the lack of support from the Legislature, from society, and from parents.

Beverly Fraud

April 26th, 2012
3:12 pm

Eagerly awaiting what Matt the Mouth Organ at DOE has to say about this. Will he SPECIFICALLY address the time issue? Would the DOE have put this out there if they THEMSELVES had to do it?

Or would it suddenly NOT be “good for children” if THEY had to do it?

high school teacher

April 26th, 2012
3:31 pm

I too have concerns about the new English CCGPS; however, my concern is for the students. We just had a team meeting today during planning, and we discovered that in a 9 week unit for British Lit (roughly 45 days), the students are expected to complete 35 tasks. There is a note that the tasks usually take more than one day. For the college bound student, these tasks are not too daunting. For the lower level students, these tasks are a bear. They are expected to read Macbeth on their own for homework. Also, students who will get a special ed diploma will now be in regular classes and will be expected to comlpete these same tasks.

I’m not whining about the thousands of essays that I will grade next year (and I will choose not to grade some and use peer review or self review); my complaint is that all students are expected to produce the same work regardless of ability. Maybe I should move to New York and teach there ?

William Casey

April 26th, 2012
3:41 pm

@HOWARD: I taught in both public and private schools. The latter get to CHOOSE their students. It’s really that simple. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to educate you.

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
4:25 pm

Formerteacher: In business, you can fire the ones out of that twenty who don’t do the job. In education, we can’t just send off the ones who can’t do or won’t do. We are expected to find the magic combination to make them better. Even as much as I try with all my struggling learners, I still have the few who just never turn around. I never give up, but at the end of the year, I have to accept their choices, however misguided, and move on to next year’s group. If a company had to keep even it’s derelict and try to “make” them become better, then they’d understand the quandry we’re in as educators. Until then, they never will really understand.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

April 26th, 2012
4:27 pm

In my opinion, anyone who equates teaching with babysitting has shown they are so lacking in basic understanding of my profession, that their opinion is summarily dismissed as useless. That is akin to suggesting that judges choose their profession so they can bang the gavel on the big desk.

As for the CCC… I too have my concerns about the writing expectations at even the elementary level. For me, it is not so much the grading that will be the problem, but that the focus seems to be on quantity rather than quality. The students are expected to complete numerous examples of types of writing. However, with in increased time spent writing, there will be very little time to actually TEACH the writing process. Children don’t learn to write through osmosis; they need to be TAUGHT good writing practices. They need to work through the writing process with ongoing guidance. It can take child hours to get through the entire writing process the first few times. Students all move at different paces through the process, and the teacher needs to work with them individually or in small groups to identify and address weaker areas. I already struggle to do a good job with writing as it is, since there is so much emphasis on completed pieces and not so much emphasis on the process. The CCC seems to exacerbate this problem. I really am not sure how I am going to manage it while still doing what I feel is most beneficial in terms of actually teaching children HOW to write well.

Old Physics Teacher

April 26th, 2012
4:32 pm

Howard,

soooo… what was your point? What evidence do you have to back it? And what’s it worth?? Calling me names for asserting you should examine your belief in your own importance and ability does nothing to change the facts. I was simply trying, tactfully I thought, to explain that you might have over-estimated your ability and your knowledge of what’s going on.

Heinlein said: “What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!”

After watching politicians blow smoke for so long (and it’s smoke you believe), people begin to believe they “know” things. Before you spout off about specific conditions WHICH YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT (even thought you BELIEVE you have the opinion from on high), you might consider that you’ve taken a position on something you know nothing about!

Going to school and being a student does not qualify you to tell a teacher how to perform his/her job. And if you ARE that good, I’m sure your local school system would be ecstatic to get you as a teacher.

ashley

April 26th, 2012
4:41 pm

It was just today that I wished students would write more. The age of texting is really hurting students’ ability to write essays or even copy notes of an overhead quickly. I’m GLAD these kids are going to have to write more.

GwinnettParentz

April 26th, 2012
5:10 pm

Those of us in the private sector can only wonder at the rampant self-pity of some on this blog purporting to be teachers.

If you feel so abused by principals and taxpayers — why are you still in the profession?

Also extremely odd is all the free time you seem to have. Day after day, and during working hours, you have the leisure time (and no supervision?) to repeatedly post to blog topics!

Who’s paying for this?

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

April 26th, 2012
5:31 pm

@ GwinnettParentz “Also extremely odd is all the free time you seem to have. Day after day, and during working hours, you have the leisure time (and no supervision?) to repeatedly post to blog topics!”

Apparently a lot of “private sector” workers have time during working hours to post as well, aye? Not all the comments here are from teachers, certainly. Aren’t the private sector workers supposed to be working too?

Personally, I never have time to post till after working hours (and then some.) But funny you should say this, since just the other day I was wondering about all the “private” sector workers on various comment threads etc., who post all day long, or admit that they, or their co-workers spend hours playing World of Warcraft in their cubicles, or watching videos on their smartphones or streaming sports on their computers… Or the ones who run to the bank or the store on their lunch, while I bolt down something in the 20 minutes I get…

I think the conclusion should be – those of us who have a strong work ethic and personal integrity work hard, regardless of whether we are private or public sector.

And then there are those who coast.

teacher&mom

April 26th, 2012
5:36 pm

Perhaps we can solve this great debate by simply paying teachers by the hour?

I’ll gladly clock in and out each day. That way if I stay late, attend an after school event or meeting, work on Saturday, participate in summer trainings, gate-duty at sport events, school club meetings, school dances, etc., I can be paid a fair hourly wage for my time. Instead of grading papers at home, I’ll return to school, clock in and grade them in my classroom. Once I hit 40 hours, overtime pay will kick in.

Lazy teachers will not be rewarded and the hardworking teachers will be paid handsomely for their hard work and dedication.

Former DeKalb high school English teacher

April 26th, 2012
5:43 pm

I worked in private industry most of my adult life (mostly in commercial and academic writing and editing) before I gave in to my desire to teach. I loved it. I also loved my students, my colleagues, my principal . . . But I left teaching high school English last year, feeling totally burned out; and I agree with the teacher in Maureen’s article. @tchr, you make some wonderful suggestions, and I also agree with you about the caprice of trends in education–”whole language” (and the exclusion of teaching phonics) was one such disaster. But whether or not the local or state system requires me to teach writing, I believe that we have to teach it–by having students do meaningful written assignments with feedback and a subsequent student rewrites. Unfortunately that translates into more hours than there are in the day.

Now I volunteer, because I miss it so much, and I truly believe in what we do. I see high school students who struggle with written expression, many fo whom tell me that they are rarely assigned writing projects. While I am cautious about believing everything a teenager tells me, I know that there is some truth to their claims–not because teachers are lazy, but because they have lives. While I was teaching, I was never without my shoulderbag of student papers–I took them on family trips, sat up all hours of the night with them (after spending ten or eleven hours at school), and generally allowed my work to become my life. Classroom time is extremely important; but for most of us, it’s only a fraction of what we do. (Don’t get me started on how I spent my “vacations” and all that “free” time.)

Whenever I’m offered my old job back, which is often, it’s hard to say no. Maybe if I were twenty years younger . . . .

Oh, goodie!

April 26th, 2012
5:52 pm

Ashley, I take your comment as an offer to help grade these essays. Let me know when you are free next year. Teacherandmom, great idea! This week alone, I have already clocked in 17 hours of over time. After tomorrow, I will have at the very minimum 25 hours of over time. That number doesn’t even include the several hours I will spend this weekend grading essay test and planning for final exams. I especially would like over time pay during research paper time when I basically don’t see my family for two weeks, logging in 20 hours per weekend for two weekends in a row.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

April 26th, 2012
6:00 pm

teacher&mom:

Me too! Then I can count tomorrow, when I will stay late to tutor a child after school (for free), then remain in the building preparing for a classroom observation by an assessment team on Monday, write my lesson plans for next week, clean my classroom for the visit by entering students on Tuesday (because our janitorial staff has been cut back and only vaccuum these days), then participate in our Parent Pizza night from 6:00 till 8:00 – putting in a 13 hour day.

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
6:47 pm

@I love teaching: if we get paid by the hour, then do we get an actual lunch break or do we get paid for sitting with our kids? I’d be happy to clock out and go eat real food- even just once a week! If they pay me while I’m sitting with kids, I’d be up to about ten hours daily. Dang, that’d make up for furlough days pretty nicely!

A working woman

April 26th, 2012
7:12 pm

I love teaching says “Apparently a lot of “private sector” workers have time during working hours to post as well, aye? Not all the comments here are from teachers, certainly. Aren’t the private sector workers supposed to be working too?”

…the difference, I love teaching is that we working in the private sector don’t have a blog where we daily complain about our jobs. We also don’t have a paid AJC journalist encouraging us to air our grievances to everyone in the world.

You have to realize that the very people you want support from are the very people you are turning off by your constant complaining about how everything and everyone is unfair to you and that you are overworked and underpaid. So are we.

Formerteacher

April 26th, 2012
7:26 pm

Ron F.- my point exactly, even if I didn’t actually say it. Goes along with the earlier comment about privates schools not having these same issues. Both situations- corporate America and private schools- can choose who they deal with. Public schools can’t and they are expected to, as you said, ” find the magic combination to make them better.” And when they don’t, it’s not the student’s fault for not putting forth any effort- it’s the teacher’s fault for being a “glorified babysitter” as an earlier post put it. Good teachers who care and want to do a good job will eventually leave the profession and it really will be “glorified babysitters” just looking for summer break.

Brandy

April 26th, 2012
7:52 pm

@I Love Teaching, I have similar concerns about CCS for middle school ELA. When I taught in Maryland, we trained (yes, trained, not taught) students to write formulaic BCRs and ECRs in response to prompts (generally related to a text). As long as the students were writing everyday and could plug and chug into the formula, they would score well–appalling grammar to be d*mned. They were NOT becoming effective, competent writers; rather, they were becoming robots who could respond in rote: “restate the question and state your answer; support your answer with evidence from the text; make an inference”. Interestingly, Maryland began dumping this model right after I left. I’ll give you one guess why…

Student test scores went down.

Why? Several factors, including but not limited to:
-boredom
-lack of rigorous instruction due to a highly scripted (and formulaic) curriculum that failed to connect one skill set to another effectively
-no real learning, just rote memorization
-unreasonable expectations on what an student can actually infer due to developmental stage (not to mention due to intrinsic ability or disability)
-a “one-size-fits-all” approach to curricula, instruction, and assessment

I thought this whole concept was an old, rejected model, so I’m very surprised to see it presented as the new “bright and shiny” in the GPS’ CCS materials…Cobb is devising their curriculum plan this summer. Dare I hope for something better than the drivel in the GPS’ plans?

***caveat: Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the concept of a national (rigorous) curriculum AND I value strong standards. However, my concern is focused on the planning, implementation, and assessment end of things. I also question whether the CCS are the BEST possible standards out there, having seen those produced by groups like NCTM.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

April 26th, 2012
8:30 pm

@A working woman “…the difference, I love teaching is that we working in the private sector don’t have a blog where we daily complain about our jobs. ”

Or maybe the difference is you don’t have a blog that is supposed to be about issues that pertain to your profession, but which is constantly hijacked by those outside your profession to attack you, call you lazy and overpaid, and to label you a whiner anytime you dare raise concerns about current events in your profession.

“You have to realize that the very people you want support from are the very people you are turning off by your constant complaining about how everything and everyone is unfair to you and that you are overworked and underpaid. So are we.”

I have many times commented that EVERYONE, public and private sector is currently overworked. I really do not understand the mindset that seems to be, “We are being screwed over, so you should be too!” I would be the first to rally behind any movement in the private sector to offer better working conditions to private sector workers. After all, many teachers have family and friends in the private sector. I do not like to see anyone being exploited or mistreated by management.

For years I listened to people in the private sector make fun of me and my colleagues for working in a field where we got paid so little while they were doing so well. They bought the big houses and new cars, while I saved for 20 years to make a down payment on a fixer upper, and drive a 12 year old compact. And now suddenly, when they are suffering, my small, steady paycheck that they turned their noses up at for years, is suddenly an indication of my greed. I find that more than a little hypocritical.

I complain because too often, what I am being asked to do is affecting my ability to do the best for my students – YOUR CHILDREN – the unique individuals I am trying to educate to be best of my ability! Maybe if some of you would actually listen to what we are trying to tell you, you would understand that many of us are concerned for YOUR CHILDREN and their education! Being told over and over by the parents of children I serve that I am merely an overpaid babysitter, does not really encourage me to put in those 13 hour days!

@Brandy Yes. I am currently working with a team on the CCS standards in math and reading. They are still tweaking their Common Core components even now – revising them in response to input from educators – dealing with weaknesses my team started pointing out within a short time of sitting down to analyze them. So how, I wonder, did they get to the stage of being implemented across several states with these inherent weaknesses, when a dozen elementary teachers can pick up on those weaknesses in a matter of hours? Who wrote these things? Where was the oversight?

STAR teacher

April 26th, 2012
8:49 pm

Listen up Howard Finkelstein: I knew what this job would require of me, how much of my personal time it would take, and that I would never get rich in this profession, but the conditions have deteriorated, the pay is less this year than five years ago, and the work load has grown exponentially while the public, the brass, and the legislature have done nothing other than blame teachers for all the ills that befall our society. Flunk you, Howard. “Thanks for all you don’t do.” And unless you’ve walked a step in my shoes—I doubt you could hack a mile—then don’t tell me how to wear them. I didn’t realize that teaching was an exclusive profession; if you’re so well educated, and so much better educated than I, then feel free to join me as a colleague. We readily accept the bottom of the barrel in this business, but all who enter it are not so low; some of us are the cream that rises to the top. Some of us have big hearts and bigger brains, and we make a big difference in the lives of children reared by the likes of you and worse. (Disclaimer: because I live and work in an affluent area that values education, many, if not most, of my students are reared by quality parents and people; I know that all parents don’t think so little of what we do for their children as people like you clearly do. I also know that at least a few lousy teachers occupy every almost every public school.)

By the way: I don’t only have an education degree, and many of the best in my profession can say the same. I did the time in the education classes and earned a graduate degree in education, but my undergrad degree is in a subject area and my GPA and standardized test scores, and certainly my IQ, may well be higher than yours. Don’t group us all in with the lowest common denominator.

Furthermore, how many college educated professionals must endure constant abuse from above, beside, and below for as little compensation as quality teachers? If you do, then you also must love what you do more than you loathe the conditions in which you do it—as do I, for now. And, in response to your post at 2:12 pm, since you clearly didn’t learn that “you” is singular and “their” is plural, perhaps you could benefit from a few days in my English class. I teach with passion, relevance, a sense of humor, and a tolerance for arrogant ignorance, so maybe I can fill the gaps left in your learning—like how to proofread before publishing.

Brandy

April 26th, 2012
9:08 pm

@I Love Teaching…Thank you for working on such a team! I have the same questions and can only come up with one answer: Someone who wanted to make more money–

-money for new tests, new benchmarks, new test preparation materials and programs
-money for new “aligned” curricula programs
-money for new “aligned” textbooks and materials (just think if every single ELA class is reading Hatchet at the same exact time, how many additional class sets will have to be purchased?)
-money for new PD programs
-money for new curriculum maps–I accidentally came across that offering while looking for aligned grammar lessons…

And so much more. It is sad, really, that the motivating factor is not improving learning, not improving instruction, not improving performance–it is making more money. In fact, I wonder if the entire thing is engineered to fail, since that would provide more opportunities to make money.

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
9:49 pm

“And now suddenly, when they are suffering, my small, steady paycheck that they turned their noses up at for years, is suddenly an indication of my greed.”

I love teaching: I know what you mean!! Suddenly all my friends are looking at me and my small house that I’m still fixing up after 11 years and wondering where they went wrong!! If it weren’t for the love of the job, I could have been gone numerous times, and the love of it is what keeps me trying to do it no matter what they pay. But there are days…

Brandy: the hidden costs of curriculum shifts, just in terms of man hours spent planning and implementing, are never calculated. The PD money alone will be unreal, especially when systems are facing yet more furlough days next year. My system has six tentatively (and I expect more). A nearby county has already announced TWENTY, with a shortened school year. They were told it’s that or about 50 folks will be cut. Common core doesn’t scare me so much- after all these years teaching, it’s just a repackage of a lot of what we’ve done before. The timing is lousy considering the financial state, but what do we know? We’re just lowly teachers (babysitters) after all, right?

I wonder sometimes if this isn’t a curriculum doomed on purpose. Couple the overload of the curriculum with the natural drop in scores when you implement new curricula in a state trying desperately to change to charter schools and voucher programs…you get a picture that isn’t pretty. Paranoia? Perhaps, but I really think this is part of the agenda to end public education and will end up being part of the “proof” that the free market can do it better. I hope I’m wrong.

STAR teacher

April 26th, 2012
9:56 pm

@Another comment from 1:15 pm

N. GA Teacher

April 26th, 2012
10:28 pm

d

April 26th, 2012
10:41 pm

An awesome article about keeping the politicians out of public education (and heck, if we keep the people who don’t have a clue from telling the people who have spent years preparing for this profession how to do it, we will see results).

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/04/politics-and-education-dont-mix/256303/

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
11:25 pm

@d: thanks for the link. I especiall like this part from Stephen Krashen:

“Poverty is, in fact, the issue. While American students’ scores on international tests are not as bad as critics say they are, they are even better when we control for the effects of poverty: Middle-class students in well-funded schools, in fact, score at or near the top of world. Our average scores are respectable but unspectacular because…we have such a high percentage of children living in poverty, the highest of all industrialized countries. Only four percent of children in high-scoring Finland, for example, live in poverty. Our rate of poverty is over 21 perecent.”

And therein lies the motivation for so much of the reform movement: get away from the poor kids and leave them with whatever “public” system we can scrounge together.

Ron F.

April 26th, 2012
11:31 pm

And another zinger: “Bureaucracy fails, in part, because it honors leadership as a primary quality over expertise, commits to ideological solutions without identifying and clarifying problems first, and repeats the same reforms over and over while expecting different results: our standards/testing model is more than a century old.”

Bureaucracy, whether public or private, is essentiall the same. We have too many leaders, with no expertise, making the decisions. How does one gain expertise? By DOING the job. And yet those with the expertise are the last ones asked what will work and here lately are the ones pretty much constantly criticized and blamed for everything.

bootney farnsworth

April 27th, 2012
12:22 am

nice to see good mother has a whole new set of names

bootney farnsworth

April 27th, 2012
12:26 am

considering how badly the economy is in the tank, the private sector warriors are being more than alittle selective in their outrages. enron, bear/sterns, GM,K-mart, Leeman brothers,

yeah.

A Working Mother

April 27th, 2012
6:54 am

Catlayd you say “Byte me–then there is “duty” directing traffic, monitoring the lunchroom, putting kids on and off buses, etc.”
Every profession has collateral duties. We just don’t complain about doing them. I put toner in the copier. It’s not my job. I jsut do it and — no one has to ask me to do it.
In addition, parents like me do all the stuff we do at work and then we volunteer at our children’s schools to help teachers do their jobs. I spend at least five hours a week helping my children’s school. No one had to ask me or force me, I volunteer and I don’t complain. We parents genuinely wish teachers would do the same.

teacher&mom

April 27th, 2012
6:58 am

@Maureen:

“A nearby county has already announced TWENTY, with a shortened school year.”

Any chance the AJC or SOMEONE could take a county-by-county survey to get a better picture of how each system is dealing with the budget?

Look at # of school days & furloughs
# of positions cut (include RIF and positions that were not filled after retirements)
actual \$ amount that is spent on the classroom
transportation (I’ve heard systems are cutting their bus fleet and using a rotating schedule)
delaying or cutting textbook & library purchases
delaying or cutting technology & equipment purchases/replacements

I believe the taxpayers deserve, and would appreciate, a global perspective on how the austerity cuts have impacted ALL systems in GA….not just the metro area.

teacher&mom

April 27th, 2012
7:02 am

@bootney: Interesting they turn all that anger toward teachers and barely whimper at the mess created by Wall St.

Of course those in power deliberately manipulate the masses to make sure their attention is diverted from the real issues.

And the masses do not disappoint…..

Just another teacher

April 27th, 2012
7:09 am

We had training yesterday for the CCC in Language Arts. It is ambitious and, in a perfect world, it really would be refreshing to have students be able to accomplish those tasks.

BUT.

The the humongous hole in the CCC is that there is still no plan in place that will actually hold students accountable for their own learning. Technically, it’s not a CCC flaw, but a flaw in the break down of schools in general.

For example, there is all this rhetoric that tells students that if they do not pass the CRCT, they will be retained. This is hogwash, of course. The CRCT is a dumbed down, flawed test and yet we have students who can’t pass it and who we are forced to promote to the next grade.

I honestly tremble in fear at what will happen to teachers when these precious, socially promoted darlings are are unable to successfuly complete even the smallest Task as prescribed by the CCC.

I predict that the teacher will be blamed.

bootney farnsworth

April 27th, 2012
8:08 am

@ T&M

I’ve felt for a long time certain elements of society deliberately chum the waters in regard to education specifically for your point.

its no different, intellectually or emotionally than democrats who say the GOP wants the elderly to eat dog food or the GOP who claims democrats want every woman to have an abortion.

it hyperbole (sp), pure and simple. with the worst kind of intent.

its annoying mostly because I’m positve the vast majority -think good mother, this T fool, ect – actually know better, but don’t care.

they need somebody to pee on to distract them from the misery it must
be to be them, and society makes us an easy target

teacher&mom

April 27th, 2012
9:07 am

@bootney: absolutely!

When a school system announces they are cutting out 20 instructional days and NO ONE raises an eyebrow, we have reached a new low.

However, folks will quickly eat the teachers in that system alive if the test scores drop or a if teacher dares to stand up and say this is too much and it hurting our students.

And then turn around and elect the same fools for office.

Anonmom

April 27th, 2012
9:44 am

And if we didn’t have huge administrative costs, and the money could be focused in the schools instead on administration (e.g. ala Northeast systems that are 1 HS, ! middle and 4 or 5 supplementary schools) and/or a voucher program where the money followed the student.. the games the systems could play in directing the funds away from the children in the classroom would have to be minimized — vastly minimized because they wouldn’t have the funds available to manipulate.

High School SIS

April 27th, 2012
10:08 am

I’m not sure if this teacher has attended CCGPS trainings, but all of the analyses referenced above should be of much less concern to her or anyone else still in the ELA classroom. We should be rejoicing! I work as a school improvement specialist in a high school. In teacher training, the DOE has emphasized the idea of more writing because it improves EVERY other aspect of learning and working and just…well…surviving. The key is that these pieces may be very short, as in a reflection, daily logs or journals, etc. that do not require daily grading or extended periods of time to grade. And believe it or not, I taught English before I entered the dark side, and I have an ELA department comprised of 25+ year veterans and not one of them has cried. More of a workload? Yes. Beneficial to STUDENTS (remember those guys…the ones we are here for??)? Absolutely. As a curriculum person, as a former ELA teacher, and above all, as a mom I applaud the DOE in their efforts to increase rigor and the amount of writing in EVERY (that’s right–every discipline outside of Arts and PE has a set of literacy and writing standards to abide by now) class that my child or anyone else’s enters. As for those horribly detailed and specific units…a whole team of people just saved my entire department weeks of unit writing by providing it for them. And they aren’t crap either–they are well written and thorough. So, no tears here—we’re smiling all the way into post-planning.

Hey Teacher

April 27th, 2012
10:29 am

teacher&mom

April 27th, 2012
12:33 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/charter-schools-spend-mor_n_1415995.html?ref=education

Math teacher

April 27th, 2012
12:47 pm

QCC, GPS, CCGPS, etc.. what will it change to after 2-4 years down the road. And why should I invest my time or effort in any of this fad nonsense. I know my subject area well and can convey it well to my students with or the alphabet soup. At meetings/trainings, I do well to ignore the educrats who talk way too much. I enjoy the fact I can shut my door and teach.

Another Teacher

April 27th, 2012
1:10 pm

I hope that all of you understand that teacher do not recieve ANY paid holidays or paid days off or ANY pay for the summer break. Teachers are only paid for the actual time they are physically in the school. How many of you, Howard Finklestein, work for free? How many of you complainers do work for the company after hours and off the clock. Not many, I’ll bet. Come on Howard, let’s hear you brag about how many off the clock hours you work!

1st Year Teacher

April 27th, 2012
3:46 pm

1st Year Teacher

April 27th, 2012
3:51 pm

I’m in my first year teaching HS in GA.
To the commenters who think teachers (and students!) have too much time off: I agree. I would much rather teach “year-round” with maybe a five-/six-week break in the summer. Makes much more sense, IMO.

Beverly Fraud

April 27th, 2012
4:15 pm

Where is Matt the Mouth Organ?

Long time educator

April 28th, 2012
4:49 am

If teachers are to be held accountable for student outcomes, then we ought to be given the performance objectives and left alone to determine how best to get the kids there. If the state wants to script the delivery of instruction and evaluate us on how well we stick to the script, then we should not be held accountable for student outcomes. It should be one or the other, but not both.

April 30th, 2012
12:22 pm

[...] began this discussion lat week on the blog with a piece by a high school English teacher on the amount of writing expected under the new [...]