Riffing on the Unemployment Blues

I subbed a couple of times this week. On the first day, a teacher told me that he just found out that he had been “riffed,” but he had also been invited to re-apply for his job the next school year. I asked him about his plans, and he said he’d like to go back to selling tires. I found out later that several other teachers and paras were in the same situation. I ended up subbing for that teacher two days later. At the end of the day, a colleague from another program came looking for him, having heard the school wide gossip. She wanted to buy him a drink and commiserate. I mentioned that I thought the teacher had tenure and should be one of the last to go. His colleague said, “If they want to get rid of you, they’ll get rid of you.”

Tenure is no longer the gurantee that it used to be. In Chicago, over 800 tenured teachers were laid off last year. Many ended up as substitute teachers. With the rise of charter and private schools at will employment may soon be the norm.

In an era where teachers are expected to have students who are all above average on standardized tests, I’m guessing that education won’t be a life-long occupation for many.  Like  joining the peace corp or enlisting in the army,  teaching will be a cause for people in their twenties  to respond to before they settle down and raise  a family or need a job that requires only 9 hours or less of their workday.


January 21, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

I hate Homework

I helped daughter #2 with her fifth grade science fair project last month. She received a C minus.  The report had to be written in APA style and have 12 sources. The whole thing was riculous. The students were given over 24 pages of instructions and guidelines- an exmple of “rigorous teaching.”  The science fair manual for fifth grade was the same used by high school students in the district. I’m reminded of an old Piaget quote, where he said that when Americans heard about his theory of developmental stages, they would always ask how they could speed it up.

Daughter #1 is also in fifth grade at a slightly less ambitious school. She had to answer questions for a study guide on Old Yeller last week. She asked to use my laptop, then googled “old yeller study guide” and found the answer key to the very same questions online.

January 16, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A Battered Fish Tale

Today I subbed in a Montessori Pre-K class. A little boy asked if he could feed the class’s fish. I wasn’t sure and said I didn’t want to overfeed them. He then told me how one of the fish had been sick but was now better. The sick fish had stayed on the bottom of the tank for days after it had been attacked by the other fish, which then canibalistically  ate the top fin off of it’s tank-mate. Ah, the wonders of nature!

January 12, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Back to subbing

I didn’t have to sub in December, since I ended up with a temporary job at the North Pole.

January 3, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.