What Time Is It?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

What time is it begins what could be a needed discussion of the school system and school systems generally.  Each new school year the children are seated all shiny faces looking directly at this person who is to be the teacher for this school year. Be it a 6-year-old or 16-year-old the faces are all the same and each comes with an inside face we rarely get to see unless. It is the unless I want to share because of its importance and relevancy to the cost of educating children. 

There are very loud voices and necessary ones that the value of a school depends on the teacher, but it is that same teacher that faces those many personalities that is the key and often forgotten. Low pay we have all heard about. It is real and the measly five percent raise for teachers hardly demonstrates real support, but I can't linger here. Too many important factors and one that bothers me a great deal.  Have the readers ever seen how many administrators are drawing $100,000 salaries? That number, never static, is one of the areas that bothers this educator. That distance, and I am not meaning physical, adds to the frustrations of the teacher's role. "I need help" heard over and over again during my career, teachers asking for help. What kind of help is needed?  That list is a long one and for the brevity of this article I will mention just a few.

1.  She comes to school with an odor and the children have spoken to me about.

2.  He is unable to read the material I have on hand. I do not know what his reading difficulties are.

3.  There was some sort of fight in the home of ……. last night. Student appears very withdrawn today and he wants to fight others.

4.  She comes to school without lunch or lunch money... "I have been buying her lunch for the past week."

5.  The father, neighborhood children have said, has gone to jail.

This is just a small sample of every day.  Even high school teachers face the same concerns and where is the help? Oh, some will say to report to the school principal or the school social worker or the school psychologist.  All wonderful. One principal; one social worker and she/he has five other schools; ditto for the school psychologist. Help is needed for the classroom teacher every day and every teacher. There should be staff in every school designated to be the "helper" the teacher needs and I mean the teacher needs today, not next week. Possibly a ratio of one of these generalists for every three to four teachers in the elementary schools and lower ratios for the middle and high and I submit reasons for less in the upper grades. I will cite one. If that classroom teacher has support on a daily basis with regular feedback; relevant feedback, she/he can do the job of teaching. What is to stop the classroom teacher establishing throughout the school year a visitation plan for the home of every single child assigned? Oh boy, I can hear the cries of mercy now!  Let me share what that visit does to the teacher's credibility. The warmth, the caring,  extended to that family that may have that so difficult child. It is magical, believe me  I know. That plan I did every year.

If the school system would maintain the wealth of teacher value and support the teacher, the school principal would serve a different role (explained earlier) , assistant superintendent or even the superintendent of schools and all those high paying positions would be in the classrooms helping, serving. This is what will happen to test scores. Simply, they will go up. Schools will be talked about and proudly. Schools will finally serve both the child and the family and the entire community benefits. Maybe we could even erase poverty. What a concept don't you think?

Robert Brooks


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