Sorry it took so long for another post. This last week has been especially tiring on my end. I'm used to having a relatively mellow existence outside of school but the last week has been anything but relaxing.
There have been some rumors floating around regarding the sick-out. I have heard plans of district retribution, of "black-listing," and other horror stories of the potential downfall we all face if we use a day on the 29th. I have seen no documentation, whether hard copy or e-mail, that would confirm any of these stories. So as of right now, I regard them as rumors only. Whether generated by a paranoid teacher or an administrator who is sweating the prospect of empty classrooms, I cannot say.
I have received some information about campus administrators who have been distributing a "letter of intent" to their staff, requiring them to sign a document declaring their intent to remain on campus and to abide by the extended schedule. If you have been handed a similar letter, please let me know.
What amazes me is the haphazard implementation of the new work schedule. The board approved the new schedule yet left the principals sole discretion as to how the new time was utilized. Principals were given approximately three days to develop a comprehensive plan on how the new time would be spent on their campuses. Three days? Is this truly enough time to formulate any plan, much less a comprehensive one? Is this enough time to gather feedback from faculty or sit down with instructional leadership and honestly discuss how this time can be used effectively?
Once again, DISD does something last minute and with little thought invested.
In other news, neither the board nor the interim superintendent have mentioned the proposed sick-out, whether in writing or in the media. I expected as much. As I mentioned before, I believe their strategy is to simply wait us out and hope it all goes away. If the board has not addressed us, then perhaps I will need to address the board. More on that soon.
Some have asked me if I think this sick-out idea is really going to work or if I believe the board will reverse its decision. I am hesitant to provide an honest answer here, for honesty in this light will probably seem detrimental to my cause. However, I do not believe that the added time is going away. Whether 33% or even 100% of us call in sick on February 29th, we will return on March 1st, and the board will have weathered this storm. The history of labor relations in America shows that a single day action, like the one I am suggesting, is destined to fail. The only proven method to force management to the negotiating table is a full strike. The legality of a strike in Texas aside, no educator would even consider such a thing. One day is one day, but the students in Dallas simply cannot afford for us to be gone for the time necessary to get our voices heard. What I expect to happen is teachers will call in on Leap Day, the news will report it, and the public will forget it sometime around the second of March.
Then, if I don't expect us to get what we want, then why do it at all?
The answer to this question is simple. I love education. I enjoy the art of teaching, the look on a kid's face when they finally understand what you have been teaching them all week, the satisfaction of knowing that I played a role in the development of a young person's life. I cherish every laugh that I share with the students, the joy we share in their successes and the opportunity to help them bounce back from defeats. I especially like doing so in Dallas, a place where I feel as though I am needed, more so than in our surrounding communities. I want to spend the rest of my life gathering year after year of memories. I hope to meet some of these young people again when they become adults and have one of them, just one, thank me for my hard work.
I love teaching, but for the first time in my life I am becoming dissatisfied with being a teacher.
And it isn't just me. There are some younger people in my building who are incredibly talented; people who I know will soon develop into teachers that I could only dream of being. I envy their talent, and I know how desperately they are needed in education. Yet they will eventually leave. Their exit will not be a case of "normal attrition," rather it will be a direct result of the policy decisions of district leadership.
We have given the district so much already and we will never get any of it back. We cannot continue to give more concessions to the board, for if we do, we will never be able to recruit the next generation of talented educators.
So no, I do not expect the board to reverse its decision. I do not believe I ever truly did. All I expect is for our board to stop for a minute, just one minute, and ask themselves if their next policy change is going to make Dallas attract talent or repel it.
Keep on teaching, and try to forget how hard it is becoming to be a teacher.