All we are is just another brick in the wall...

Yesterday was my last day at the high school. In a surprising turn of events, three days after I turned in my resignation the principal informed me that the board was not going to replace me. Not only were they not replacing me this semester, they weren't even going to try to replace me for the next semester either. He says finding a foreign language teacher takes time, so they will find a replacement for next August. I was stunned, because I never thought it was possible.

Now remember, I had written before that there was a candidate interested in the county but they never even called her. Normally if a teacher leaves they find a replacement. In drastic cases they hire a sub for the rest of the semester. Apparently the option of dissolving the classes has been there but usually reserved for elective courses, not for academic courses that are required in order for the kids to get to college. Basically, they saw an opportunity to save the money on salary, and screw the kids. Now we are in the seventh week of the semester, so if the kids are relocated into other classes, they need to do it as soon as possible, so they wanted me to leave mid month for this purpose. Of course by me leaving mid month they save half a month's salary. Yeah. Nice.

Now the kids are being given the option to finish the class online. They have a coach in the school who is fluent in Spanish and will facilitate the class for the kids while they do the work online. One of the kids asked "Why can't the coach just teach it this semester?" and the principal said he wasn't certified. I am not certified either! I gave the guidance counselor a list of which kids I thought were smart enough and mature enough to do this class online on their own, it came to 25. I had 95 students.

What is interesting is that when Laura and I complained about having 32 kids per class, we were told there was nothing they could do. All these kids needed these classes to graduate and based on the numbers there was nowhere else to put them. But once faced with saving money on the salary they were prepared to find spaces for them in electives. I thought they couldn't move any of them?

I am really sad about this. I have talked to kids and gave them my reasons for leaving. I explained to them I was willing to stay until a replacement was found, but they chose not find one. I secretly hoped they would ask me to leave early, but because they had an eager teacher who wanted to start right away! Be careful what you wish for.

When the kids asked me why I was leaving I said I had a lot of reasons, and they started to tell me why they thought I was leaving. They named every single reason. "It's because they pay you too little!". "It's because of rescue & recovery!" "Ms Ayala, do you think they baby us too much?" "It's because you get the biggest classes". I am amazed at how much they know. I talked to several of them one on one and they would say things like "I don't blame you, I would leave too." "I think the rescue & recovery policy makes us lazy" And my favorite "I hope I didn't offend you by sleeping in class. But you were going to slow for me so when I was done I would take a nap." That kid has a 95 average, but is stuck in a class of 32 and therefore has to deal with the pace of mediocrity. Every day he had to hear his classmates complain that I was going to fast for them. The irony is that the students like him will be able to finsh the class online, make an A and probably take another one while the others are struggling to pass.

Talking with other teachers and administrators, they all say they understand why I was leaving and shocked they wouldn't try to replace me. I told them when I was in the classroom I felt like I was the only one who cared if the kids learned anything. They don't care, their parents don't care, the administration doesn't care. Then, they turn around and prove me right.

I am not worried about the kids. The smart ones that want to learn will do it. They will get through it. The bad ones will struggle to graduate. The mediocre ones will do the bare minimum required. What I am worried about is the state of education in this country. I believe in the public education system, being a product of it myself. But this experience has made me question the system. Going from working with international students, to a public high school is a big jump that really makes you think about Thomas Friedman and the place the US will have in the world.

For now I am Suzie homemaker. Lucky Michael...


  1. false advertising. the email said carlitos way. i thought there would b more cute kitty
    really sux, the school system. we need 2 just trash the whole system and start over with something new. a 21st century educational system. maybe while ur at home u can figure it out.


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