Sunday, January 29, 2012

Some Clarifications and Responses

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has demonstrated their support so far.  I'm glad to see so many of you ready to speak out against what you see happening to our schools.

I want to address a couple of issues that have come up:

1.)  Some are unsure exactly what my goals for this are.  Let me state it clearly here and now - I do not want the sick out to happen.  Preferably, I would like to see the board come to its senses and begin including us, the educators, in the discussion on how we move forward as a district.  Being on the front line, we see multiple cases of waste that, if given the opportunity to point it out, could save the district millions.  Yet, we do not feel as though the district wants our opinion.  (A simple e-mail can put you on administrative leave.)  The forty-five minute extension was a clear demonstration to me that the board has no real clue as to what we do nor what kind of time we really put into our schools.  How many of us will be willing to stay behind for tutoring after a nearly nine hour work day?  How many of us will want to go above and beyond any longer?  Our students need us to give them more than what they can get in a standard school day, so please allow us the energy to do that.

2.)  It is unfortunate that I have to remain anonymous, but the current climate at DISD makes it nearly impossible to speak your mind without fearing a notice that you have been "riffed."  I will remain so until it becomes clear that I will not be forced out of the job I love for calling attention the the district's problems, I will do so.

3.)  Yes, organizing strikes in Texas is illegal.  I reviewed the law after my initial, emotionally-driven post.  Let me be clear.  We are not holding out for demands.  In a strike, workers refused to return to their jobs until management gives in to demands.  That is not what is happening here.  If people choose to miss work on February 29th, they will return March 1st, regardless of whether or not the board does anything we ask.  No one is going on strike.  Besides, I am not organizing anything.  I am merely stating that I think a sick out is called for and all those willing to participate, should.  I would like to see 33% participate, but I have no way of checking on just how many are willing to call-in.  I am not keeping a log, or list, or registry of participants.

4.)   Finally, I hope that people know that ultimately this is all about education.  If the sick-out happens, people will see a glimpse of what public education is becoming.  Our districts are making policies that are forcing the talented teachers to look elsewhere, and eventually the only ones left behind will be those with no where to go. Is this the system that will drive our nation into the future, or off a cliff?

One last note.  I am getting a lot of e-mails and Facebook friend requests.  Keep them coming.  However, I will not answer any e-mails or messages between the hours of 8:00am and 4:30pm.  After all, I have a job to do....

Oh, and here's the news story from Channel 8.


  1. be careful what you ask for. you may get more than what you bargained for. i.e. you might get to stay home all the time. The DISD, like other school districts are fighting to stay afloat with diminished tax bases and very high expenditures. You guys should be happy to still have a job. Stay home sick teaches our kids a valuable and bad lesson too. Isn't it about them anyway?

    1. IF you think you can do a better job then come to school on 2/29/2012 and you try it.

    2. To:Anonymous January 30, 2012 9:52 AM and January 30, anonymous 2012 11:07 AM
      Dallas independent school district Administrators should not be posting, to this blog during school time. We know you are trying to protect your big salaries and have soft jobs. Get real your not FOOLING anybody. THINK SCHOOL DISTRICT IP ADDRESS.
      Big Teach is watching 2001

  2. Let's see: You are "only asking to be respected," and yet you propose as a remedy to your feeling that the Board is disrespecting you that you and others who feel the same way will stay away from your jobs for a school day.

    You say you love your job, but you clearly have little respect for your superiors, for your students, their parents, or for the many other folks who will necessarily take up the slack when you and your misguided colleagues take the day off.

    You claim your earlier post was "emotionally driven."

    I don't think you "love your job." I think you love having a protected job, summers off, work days that end at a predictable time, and a reason to complain about how poorly you're being treated.

    Poor baby!

    The news says you're a "five-year veteran teacher." Your first job out of school, huh? Never worked anywhere that required a full day's work for a full day's pay and where you could be terminated without cause or recourse? Never had to get your hands dirty, go home with an aching back or blisters? Probably never had to accept a paycheck where the dollars you receive correlate directly to the hours you work. These are the terms under which the parents of your students work. Assuming they still have jobs.

    You're not doing anything to make folks feel better about teachers in a time of economic uncertainty for everyone.

    Now, this is the part where you apologize to the real teachers, your superiors, the parents and to your students...

    Glad you're not teaching MY kid!

    1. Ms Anonymous, you couldn't be more wrong in your assessment of this teacher. DISD has dug itself a hole which I personally don't think they can dig out of. A big part of it is the culture of the city and the degenerate nature of the parents of the students. Another is the nature of the district and an "elected" school board who must attempt to appease a loathsome public in order to be re-elected.

      I taught in DISD in 1978 and I could see then how it had degenerated and that it was, even way back then, beyond the point of no return. They might as well fold up and close up.

      This attempt to push the teachers to "do more" is their feeble admission that the problem is beyond their ability to solve and their even more feeble attempt to incite blame on the teachers.

      The only way DISD can dig itself out of the gutter is to bring to light, and very loudly I might add, exactly where the blame belongs; on the parents and at the upper grades, their kids. The parents live in and promote the most degenerate culture one could imagine. Couple that with the idea that education is something they must have handed to them rather than something to be gained through effort and the mix is set. Its only when finally, the students and parents themselves reach a point of "needing" education that things can begin to turn around. Its so interesting to see how the students begin to act and behave when they finally realize this education thing is something they might actually want. By then they enter a college only to find out that they are years behind and they have no one to blame but themselves and their parents.

      This guy owes no one an apology. And there is not a "real" teacher who would expect one.

      The only apology I can see that might be needed here is your to him for being so ignorant of that which you speak.

      As to "you teaching MY kids", I wouldn't worry about it one iota, because my kids know that they get out of a class that which they want to get out of it, despite some of the dimwit teachers (like you could be)and dimwit attitudes (like yours) that they have encountered from time to time. Most of their teachers have been pretty good but there are on occasion those who are basically stupid, like you, that they must endure and yet, strive to learn from. One thing is for sure, they have been taught to teach themselves and are not dependent upon teachers.

      The folks of DISD need first realize that they are the primary problem and cause of DISD's problems. Couple that with the budget cuts and that's that.

      I hope they all stay home, I really do. It's the only way to get the message across to the admin's that the teachers might be able to help. DISD has a history of being "tough" with their teachers for all the good it does. I'm not a DISD teacher and I can have that opinion and there is nothing on earth they can do about it either. Nor you for that matter.

      The teachers of DISD love to teach, but no one loves to have to force feed. And its obvious that the admins and folks like you don't know what you are talking about not how to fix it. And make no mistake, DISD is a broke as it can get. But then, so are the people and the culture they attempt to educate.

    2. Spent a year teaching in DISD 34 years ago, huh?

      And your concern is that my knowledge, experience, and opinion may not be current or valid. Funny.

      I share your concern for DISD only in that it seems to me that all public school districts of which I am aware are, in some way, similarly afflicted. I do not share your disdain for the "degenerate nature of the parents" or for the "loathsome public."

      In fact, I remain hopeful that folks who respect and care about others outside themselves, work hard within the system, and accept the variability and diversity within society can solve these problems.

    3. One year in DISD and 17 in other districts in the area not to mention the 25 or so in the community colleges.

      And I'm afraid your hope is just that, hope. If you don't see the degenerate nature of the ghetto culture, and most of DISD is ghetto, then you are blinded to the truth. And if the truth is not seen and acknowledged, then there can be no change.

    4. To:Anonymous January 30, 2012 9:52 AM and January 30, anonymous 2012 11:07 AM
      Dallas independent school district Administrators should not be posting, to this blog during school time. We know you are trying to protect your big salaries and have soft jobs. Get real your not FOOLING anybody. THINK SCHOOL DISTRICT IP ADDRESS.
      Big Teach is watching 2001

    5. Really?

      I've been unemployed for more than three years, so I can post at whatever time of day I like. I am quite certain that at least one of the two posts you've identified was not written by a DISD administrator, since I wrote one, but not the other.

      Further, "you are" is properly contracted as "you're", not "your" and your comment does not require the comma following the word "posting." Perhaps you should avoid future use of forms of the word "fool" in your posts, lest you inadvertantly unmask yourself.

    6. And you, my dear pompous blow-hard, have inadvertently mispelled "inadvertantly!"

  3. To anonymous,

    I say give them hell; I encourage all teachers everywhere to engage in some kind of guerrilla warfare with the DISD board and its new superintendent. The above comment on how "easy" teachers have is reflective of the SMUG IGNORANCE most people in Texas have about education; in this state, the ones that have never taught are the "experts" on what teachers do.


    1. REAL teachers teach. They don't unionize, they don't strike or sick out. They don't call names. They vote.

      "Smug Ignorance?" Hardly. "Fascict [sic]"? Pure McCarthy-ism.

      But, there IS a war against public education in Texas (and elsewhere) - you're right! Its warriors are selfish, aging "Baby-boomers" who've decided, now that their kids are grown, not to pay for the education of the kids that follow.

      This is not a new sentiment, and not a new decision; just never before been such a large group of similarly selfish folks in the political mix all at once.

      You might want to ask a REAL teacher how to spell "Fascist."

    2. To:Anonymous January 30, 2012 9:52 AM and January 30, anonymous 2012 11:07 AM
      Dallas independent school district Administrators should not be posting, to this blog during school time. We know you are trying to protect your big salaries and have soft jobs. Get real your not FOOLING anybody. THINK SCHOOL DISTRICT IP ADDRESS.
      Big Teach is watching 2001

  4. Pardon for the spelling; however, one cannot help but call your responses a sense of smug ignorance. For example, teachers have the summer off; what teachers have is a few weeks to catch up on all of the certifications that the district lets them know about at the last minute. They also get to go to graduate school and cram in a few courses for masters work that they have to have, but will not get paid for. FINALLY, when they get a little time to themselves, the district calls and lets them know at the last-minute that their courses got changed, that they will not have time to prepare, and oh by the way, you have extra duty at no extra pay!! As I said, your comments exhibit nothing but ignorance about what a teacher does, so I will call you SMUG IGNORANCE!!

    1. I have great respect for teachers! In general. More than can be communicated here. I trained as a teacher and have served for many years at both the secondary and college levels in various positions. I have a child in elementary school, and I volunteer regularly in classrooms at that school.

      I DO know how hard good teachers work to be good. I know, too, that not every teacher is equally good no matter how stridently the Teachers’ Associations protest. I worked for a time in a College of Education, and I am very well aware of the many and varied reasons people choose teaching.

      I may be, to your mind, "smug," but I am not nearly so "ignorant" of the teachers' world as you and the others here appear to be of the world in which "most" Texans who are NOT teachers work:

      In ANY occupation, if you criticize or correct your boss in email or in the Press, you'll probably get fired.

      Protesting the additional 45 minutes of work per day hardly rises to the threshold of “Whistle Blower” protection under the law.

      In EVERY occupation I've ever worked - and there are MANY - the boss gets to determine when the workday starts and when it ends. Except where a law or collective bargaining agreement specifies otherwise, changes to the working hours do not require either consultation with or advance notice to the affected workers. (It may be inconvenient, unpleasant, or seemingly unfair, but it’s done every day in the real world.)

      Oddly enough, while I was typing this, my wife was called TWICE to answer her phone for questions from her customers. Her day supposedly ends at 5:00 – prior to her 45 minute commute home for which she receives neither a car allowance nor sympathy.

      When hard times strike, the temptation is always to stamp one’s foot and make demands. This is equally certain to be exactly the wrong response at precisely the wrong time, as most two year-olds soon learn.

      Teachers ARE being seen all over – Texas is NOT unique in this regard – as soft, poorly adapted, and potentially expendable. I understand the hurtfulness of this misperception. But, as my father used to say (again, not uniquely) “if people think you’re a fool, why open your mouth and confirm their suspicions?”

      “Mr” as he calls himself, and anyone misguided enough to follow his lead, will certainly confirm our suspicions if the “sick out” occurs. Do we really want teachers to retain their positions if they’re not sufficiently savvy to navigate the system without resorting to bullying or tantrums? Is this the example we want in our classrooms?

      There remain many, many excellent teachers who are and will always be fitting role models. It’s too bad “Mr” has so disqualified himself.

      In any survival situation, the first to fall are always those who decide their fate themselves. In some survival situations, the fallen are eaten first. When you think you can’t go on, consider that your own actions may well determine your fate, and others' fare.

      Again, I respect and admire teachers in general. It’s too bad that THIS teacher has chosen a course of action which is NOT admirable and cannot be respected.

      I’m truly grateful that he does not speak for ALL teachers!

    2. You are so smug, yes and also ignorant. Most teachers do a good bit of work at home in addition to that which they do in the building, not to mention all the other stuff they want teachers doing to make education "fun".

      Get a clue, teaching is way different from the regular jobs you obviously relate to. You might not be so knowledgable as you might think. Until you've been in the classroom 6 hours a day, sometimes with multiple preps, each with 30 or more students now, then you haven't a clue.

      Suffice it to say that the extra 45min per day is not an effort to make teachers better teachers, its an effort to make them the scapgoat and place the blame for a failed system on them. Thats it and thats all.

    3. ...and salespeople often generate their own leads, and contractors sharpen their saws and keep their licenses up to date, and consultants have to build their own businesses, musicians practice, actors rehearse, and writers do their own research.

      Even pastors are expected to pray and be good on days that are not Sundays or Wednesday nights. (Except, apparently, at some of the larger churches in the DFW area.)

      My point is that teachers are not exempt from similar requirements, and that protesting with a "sick out" will almost certainly be counter to any useful purpose.

      You don't know enough about me to accurately characterize me as either "ignorant" or "smug." I know nothing about you except that name-calling seems to be your unique forte.

      Just as I did not realize that you, "thats it and thats all [sic]," are the end point of the conversation.

      Silly me.

    4. Teachers have taken a beating the last few years especially in DISD, and it's emotionally draining. Most of the professions you allude to are not that emotionally draining. Do you not see the danger of pushing so many caring people to the brink? As a group, teachers are blamed for so much. I wouldn't want to know that my children's teacher was being treated this way. In fact, they aren't, because they are in a district that nurtures and cares for its teachers--where in fact they too have had to deal with cutbacks, but are doing so in a much saner, fairer, and less in your face way. Really, why did this change take place now when so many other pressing issues are in front of the board?

    5. I hear your concern, and I share it. I have nothing at all against teachers, and I particularly don’t want to see them further disparaged for the “emotionally-driven” actions of one teacher, or of a small group of misguided followers. (Even 33% of DISD teachers.)

      As I've said over and over again, I respect and admire teachers! But, I'm trying to inject a sense of the commonality of experience and stress across many walks of life. In the current economic climate, lots of folks are suffering.

      Teachers are hardly the only ones who suffer, and it’s not fair of you to say that other professions “are not that emotionally draining.” Anyone who is committed to his or her profession will be emotionally drained when the compensation drops and the hours rise. Practitioners of all occupations care.

      The danger of pushing "caring people to the brink" is that they will cease to care. If I offend my plumber, he may leave a joint unsoldered and flood my bathroom. I don't want to think about what my waitress or the chef might do if I offend one or both of them!

      I won't re-call a petulant plumber who floods my house. I won't dine where I cannot be reasonably certain that my mayonnaise contains only eggs and oil. I remain in awe of the plumber who can properly sweat a copper joint between two flammable studs, and grateful for the chef who makes squid taste like Calamari!

      Police and firemen have traditionally experienced the highest rates of suicide. In the town where I grew up, doctors seemed vulnerable, too. Ever miss a quota when your pregnant wife is depending on your commission check to make ends meet? I was forced to resign from my first computer operator position, not because I joined an internal protest against the way shifts were assigned, but because, in abject frustration, I punched a hole in the wall where the new schedule was posted!

      Teachers hold a position of special reverence in our culture. (If not equally so in our budgets!) We expect them to be role models. We expect reason and rational responses from them. When teachers fail in their responsibility to reason well and act rationally, they've failed at the core of our expectations for them. Our kids can learn much of the subject matter online, or perhaps even, as one headline this week suggested, from robots. It is HUMANITY we most want them to learn from teachers! It is BECAUSE teachers care, that we care about teachers!

      When I completed my first student teaching exercise, my supervising teacher cautioned, “Be careful. I see those stars in your eyes and how passionate you are about this. Remember, EVERY job has its bulls__t, and teaching is no different!”

      More than 35 years later, I still tilt at windmills. But, I’ve learned that to do so in “emotionally-driven” fits of pique will improve neither my lot nor that of my fellow Quixotes. In fact, my actions may well damage the respect with which we hope others regard us.

      My previous assertion regarding “REAL” teachers was intended to draw the distinction between those for whom the opportunity to teach is ultimately more important than personal working conditions, and those who will, at some breaking point, decide that they’ve had enough – making their personal conditions their overarching priority.

      Your questions regarding the culture within DISD and the timing of the change are valid. I only know what I see in the news. My child does not attend DISD. I have no real dog in this fight.

      I know, however, that a “sick out” will not answer your questions, and will, in all probability, drive the Board to be even less sympathetic and forthcoming. For me, the danger is illuminated in the last line of another post here, "Teachers everywhere will be watching and possibly following your lead!"

      Oh, I sincerely hope not! (And that's why I wrote in the first place.)

  5. Keep it up!!! I was a riff victim three years ago in a small town school district. If this is what it takes to get the attention of administrators, board members, and legislators, that is their choice! Good luck!!! Teachers everywhere will be watching and possibly following your lead!

  6. I'm glad someone is calling for something. If teachers would band together more would change.

    Closing the schools, I feel, was a necessary action. I'm just baffled why they threw in the 45 minute extension of the day as an afterthought, as if it wasn't going to bother anyone or was not significant enough to discuss. They always put out calendars to vote on and ask for input, certainly this was worthy of asking for input.

    Now, a sick out is one possible idea. I believe there are many others.

    How about we start clocking in and clocking out at the time we actually work. Then we'll have documentation en mass on the hours we are really putting in?