Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why I Blog

First of all, I have to make a confession.

I have always hated blogging.  I've always viewed blogging to be an activity reserved for people who have little to do with their lives, yet feel that the insignificant details of their lives must be shared with the world.  Basically ,blogging was like Twitter, but for those incapable of maintaining the character limit.

However, I have been driven to blog anyway.

I am a teacher in the Dallas Independent School District who has been in the classroom for five years.  In a profession where more than half of us quit after three years, five years is an eternity.  I have never been truly tempted to leave the profession either, though opportunities have presented themselves.  I have always loved what I do, and I could not have imagined myself doing anything else.

That was, of course, until the 2011-2012 school year.

Here in Texas, as in every state, our school districts have faced massive budget cuts.  Dallas ISD has been hit particularly hard.  $120 million had to be eliminated from this year's budget, and now we need another forty.  My average class sizes have increased from twenty to twenty-eight, our general funds are now one-third of their former size, and all while the state increases the rigor behind standardized testing.

The only victims in this process have been the teachers and the students.  I could spend line after line listing the problems created by budget cuts, but that is not what really drove me to blog.

On Thursday, January 26, the DISD board of trustees made two moves, one to save money and one move that confuses me still.  The closure of eleven schools, some of which are exemplary campuses, is unfortunate,  however the logic behind those moves exists to counter the emotion.  As much as I hate to see a good school close and a fantastic faculty separated, I can at least understand why the move was made.

Yet the extension of teacher work-days still baffles me.  Not that the extra forty-five minutes really matters, after all many teachers of DISD work extended schedules anyway, without pay.  It is the fact that the District no longer views this as going "above and beyond." Now, this is an expectation.  It is as if the school board wishes to recognize that lots of extra time is being put in by their dedicated work force by mandating that it continue, all the while assuring us that we will remain uncompensated for the time.  Oh, and by the way, the board also thinks we're ugly.

Teachers are respected in in the speeches of every political candidate for every conceivable office and when I tell someone I am a teacher I receive comments like "Wow! That's great!" or "That's so cool.  I really appreciate what you guys do."  If everyone respects us so, then why are we being beaten into submission?  Perhaps it is because the current economic climate leaves little refuge in the private sector, but it seems that the people and our leaders proclaim their love for us while they twist the boot they have laid on our throats.

I, for one, am done.  Not with teaching, but with being the whipping boy.

I am asking teachers to become followers of my blog, and join myself and other concerned teachers by agreeing to protest the "Great Leap Backwards" our district, and frankly our nation, is taking in education by participating in the Leap Day Sick Out on February 29th.  To demonstrate your support, please e-mail or post and anonymous comment below.  I will periodically report the number of participants.  The more of us that there are, the louder our message.  Our unions will do nothing, so it is time we did something ourselves.

On the morning of Wednesday, February 29, I will contact all local news agencies and inform them of the sick out.  The goals are:

1.  Achieve a minimum "sick-out" of 33% of teachers
2.  To demonstrate to the board and to the people of  Dallas how important teachers are. (They seem to have forgotten.)
3.  Motivate the people of the city of Dallas to take action and defend their teachers

Please e-mail me, if you have any questions.

NOTE:  Yes, I have not given my name.  I do not plan to until after the sick-out to avoid any repercussions that may make others hesitant to participate.  I will reveal my name on March 1, 2012.



  1. Mr.
    I commend you on your efforts and I believe that together we can and will make a difference. One of the teachers from my school (one of the 11) clearly suggested to the press that if the efforts were really to save money there are other avenues that could have been taken. Why not take one days pay from each member employed by the district in effort to save these 11 schools as opposed to shutting them all down then consolidating (over crowding)with other schools and leaving so many teaches unemployed. The "education system" has truly lost its focus, which is of course EDUCATION.

  2. Dear Teacher for Change,
    40 years ago this fall that I received my teaching certificate, though I did not begin teaching till 2000. Now I am retired. You are right. Something must be done. In search of a better understanding I am asking for the position statement that I presume the DISD Board has that supports this decision. Their official logic behind such a change needs to be seen. An explanation is needed.

    Once that is received I will feel comfortable taking a position for one action or another. I am very cautious about anything that will negatively affect students, but you are right that something must be done. I spoke at the board meeting but could not remain for the vote. Do you know which 3 members voted against this change?

  3. We're right behind you! Thanks for doing something about this you are taking just the course of action that my spouse and I (both DISD teachers) talked about. Please count both of us in for the sick out. My personal thoughts on the extended day are as follows:
    1. It is a slap in the face that we weren't asked for our input in the matter. After all, it is OUR time.
    2. It is a double slap to say that the extra time will be spent as principals, NOT teachers see fit. I can only imagine that principals will force us to spend this time in group "planning" sessions or tutoring. Not finishing the multitude of tasks that one simply can't finish in a 45 minute state-mandated planning period. They're not just taking time out of our personal lives; they're making it more difficult to DO OUR JOBS. I really wouldn't mind nearly as much if teachers could use the time as they see fit.
    3. My principal already acts as though she's doing me a really big favor if I am granted her blessing to leave slightly early for a doctor appointment once or twice a year. Now just making it to business or the post office before closing will be a miracle of kindness bestowed from above.
    4. Do they really think that making us feel angry and abused will make us work harder? Yes there are some lazy teachers. (Making them stay an extra 45 minutes will not make them work harder.) Lazy, bad teachers should just be fired rather than passing a blanket rule like this that assumes we are all lazy teachers. Good, hard working teachers are so insulted by this that they will abandon the district in record numbers this year!
    Once again Mr. Jones, thanks for taking action!

  4. Let’s examine this as a math problem:
    3:45 the time I am allowed to leave campus this year.
    1 hour the time it typically takes past 3:45 to do all the tasks I feel I have to do before I really CAN leave campus
    4:45 the time I typically leave campus
    So next year, if I must spend 45 minutes past 3:45 doing things my principal chooses for me do and then I stay another hour doing the things I really NEED to do to get my job done, what time will I get home? Oh wait, I forgot, this will add about another 45 minutes to my commute because it will put me right into the ugly part of rush hour. (I bet other DFW commuters will LOVE that) So now what time will I be getting home next year? Do you think that will make me WANT to put in the extra volunteer time it takes to be a good teacher?

  5. Two months off every year, two weeks at Christmas, spring break, two days off at Thanksgiving, assorted other holidays equals about 60 days off per year (10 weeks in PTO-like time). Not to mention one hour a day for conference time. When I was teaching (history, health, physical education, coaching)my workday started at 7:40am and "officially" was over at 3:30pm, with 30 minutes for lunch in the middle of the day. With the 30 minute lunch I officially worked 7:30, less than the standard 8 hour workday, one hour of which was for conference that was used about 50% of the time for an actual teacher/parent conference. Of course I was in the coaching field so my day didn't "officially" end at 3:30. And you are complaining about 45 minutes?

    1. Who the hell are you? Certainly not a teacher.

    2. Its one thing to have the option to stay and work 45 minutes, but to make it "mandatory" and extend teachers work hours without extending teachers pay is absurd. What other profession do YOU know that requires its employees to work longer hours but not compensate them? That is ludicris! People dont work for free! And yes 45 min makes a HUGE difference. As a mother & wife every second at home counts, and I'm sure many other teachers can atest to that whether they have a spouse or children or not.

  6. This action for an extra 45 minutes is ridiculous!!! Gomez and Newsome obviously feel, which in turn they man handled King to agree as well, which then made it to the board to vote....mysteriously by the way. The three musketeers have done more than this.... 1 Gomez calling instructional Coahes into a meeting given them target teachers they want feedback on by the end of this week.... And yes it will count towards that teachers PDAS. The coaches aren't PDAS cert.... This is wrong on all levels!!! Good teacher are being bullied and it is sad that these teachers have been beat down so many times they don't say anything anymore! We have to stand up to our principals and the others downtown. I could keep going but I have to talk to a parent who's child tells me everyday to Please let me stay another 45 minutes!!!

  7. Here's an idea:

    If every teacher who falsely claims to be ill and stays home on February, 29 is dismissed for cause, the budget crisis will be immediately averted.

    Let's start with the teacher above who disrespectfully addresses Board members by their last names only. We could, of course, simply dismiss this person because he or she cannot spell, punctuate, or write. But, that would assume some level of expected competence - and no one wants to open THAT can of worms!

  8. If I had the days I would not go to work that day. This will be my 10th year with the Dallas ISD and if I had the years I would RETIRE from education. I'm tired of going to work while I have an administrator that doesn't make it to work for only three days a week. I have given more than just my time to DISD. Like many other teachers I have spend money on school supplies, given food to those who are hungry; bought clothes, shoes, and socks. I even bought Christmas presents!! Yet every year I'm praying that I will still have my job. Now the board wants us to fill our rooms with 24 kids and stay at school for an extra 45 minutes. Its easy for these losers to say stay at school because they don't have to put up with two dozen kids in their room. They don't have to do paperwork, grade papers and update bulletin boards.....all the board does is come up with rules and regulations without thinking about how WE feel.

  9. I am a nine-year veteran teacher in DISD. I graduated SMU magna cum laude; I live in the same Oak Cliff neighborhood where I teach; I attended Oak Cliff public schools; I knew poverty first hand while growing up. My students love me and relate to me. My test scores are nearly always the highest in the dept.

    A new principal came to my school and immediately and obviously showed her disdain for me. I am 50 years-old, and I use non-traditional methods to achieve the curriculum goals. I have been under constant attack since her arrival. I've noticed that her favorite teachers seem to be perky, recent graduates from upper-middle-class suburban backgrounds. Her least favorites are nearly all over 40 years old.

    Perhaps she resents us for having more experience, or maybe it's that our popularity and rapport with students surpasses her own. Whatever the reason, she is paving the way to push us out at the close of the year.

    The climate that's accompanied the recent budget cuts has allowed such pettiness to increase tenfold. This atmosphere is anathema to the creative spirit.

    Principals have sought to crush the spirit of any teacher who dares to be creative or unique. Anyone posing legitimate questions or ideas contrary to the regime are quickly targeted for a campaign of harrassment - frequent classroom "observations" and write-ups (for ridiculous infractions which favored teachers are never chastised). Additionally, the already subjective PDAS is used as a weapon.

    The ultimate goal is to sadistically transform a thinking human being into a submissive lackey who fears for his/her income, or to drive such teachers out altogether.

    I wholeheartedly support the "sickout" and will happily participate. However, I question the extent of its lasting effectiveness. The administration will likely weather February 29th with the reassuring knowledge that March 1st will be a return to normalcy. Texas school districts are already seeking permission to terminate teachers DURING the school year, as needed, in the name of "balancing their budgets."

    It is for this reason that I will leave the teaching profession this May. My secondary students have shed tears upon learning that I will not be returning, and I have been quite depressed at the idea of leaving them. However, I simply cannot continue to endure the relentless abuse and disrespect by the administration.

    Principals enjoy tossing around clever little catchphrases and platitudes to demostrate their "commitment" to education. One of their favorites is: "It's all about the kids!" In light of what I've previously outlined, I am left asking: "Is it really?"

    1. If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told, “We’re all here for the kids” or “It’s all about the kids.” They use it as a conversation stopper to make teachers do their bidding. Here’s a dirty secret, teachers can use it too! Try telling your principal that cutting your planning time unexpectedly hurts the children because you end up having to take instructional time to prep for the lesson. It’s not what’s best for the kids.

    2. Why on earth would you go to SMU for education?

  10. Inmates demanding to Run the Asylum.

    All of you just QUIT. If you can't take CHANGE, then just GO AWAY. Better teachers will take your place. Out of 200 teachers at my son's High School, I would count only 5 as quality educators that have ANY personal dedication to the specific KIDS....even KNOWING them at all.

    1. You are one of the parents that teachers hate to see. You have no idea what it is like to come to a place where you loved and then some administrator who hasn't taught 5 years is telling you that you aren't good enough to be in a classroom. Why don't you take your son to another school district if you don't think he is getting a quality education.

      You say better teachers will take your place....well those better teachers are the ones that will QUIT after five years IF they manage to make it that long. I suggest you be a teacher for a year and find out what its all about before you start passing judgement on us!!!

    2. Don't you dare judge until you've walked a mile in teacher’s shoes. Keep in mind that while your son has 7 or 8 teachers, your son's teachers each have 250+ students - those faces usually change each semester. Of course we try to get to know our students, but we also have the responsibility of teaching them. It is not uncommon for students to resent teachers simply because they ask for hard work. You try getting to know that volume of people under those circumstances! We do our best.

    3. You obviously have no clue about what you are saying! LOL! Just quit huh? That just goes to show how much suport you have for your sons education. By the way you may just want to consider homeschooling him, that will give him just the right amount of free quality education and dedication that he deserves. I can just imagine what his school day is like.

  11. Has anyone looked at next year's calendar that the board just approved? They've taken away ALL of the teacher work days! I wonder when they're expecting us to prepare our rooms for the school year and undo all the crazy things the custodians do to our rooms over the summer. My room always has everything shoved to one side, turned upside down and stacked about 10 feet high. When you're 5'2," that takes about a solid day's work to undo. I'll guess I'll just wait and have the kids help me with it!

    1. I saw that as well on the calendar and asked myself when am I suppose to make my room look like an inviting place for kids?? When am I suppose to get text books?? This is so stupid to take out those work days!!!

    2. No teacher work days? So the obvious question here is why are teachers being punished? They must really hate us! Oh yeah I forgot we're suppose to go to the schools on the weekends and during the holidays to create our own teacher work day!

    3. Welcome to what people in the corporate world do every day of the week. I want to change my office around? Come in on Saturday. I want to take vacation or call in sick? Only if someone from my team can cover. Plus I don't get 2 months off in the middle of the year.