Is National Teachers Day this Generation’s VE Day?

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Is National Teachers Day this Generation's VE Day?

Yes­ter­day was VE Day an unof­fi­cial hol­i­day when we remem­ber those who risked their lives for the good of soci­ety fight­ing in Europe in WW 2.

Oddly that day made me think of National Teach­ers day which was May 5th.

To most this might seem odd. National Teach­ers day would be a day to remem­ber the best teach­ers we ever had like Mrs. Teresa Mahoney who I had for both 4th & 7th Grades way back in 1972 & 1976. She intro­duced me to poetry from Arthur Guiterman’s Per­sh­ing at the Front which made me smile to Coun­tee Cullen’s Inci­dent which made me think.

How­ever given the sit­u­a­tion teach­ers find them­selves in today the VE day com­par­i­son might be apt. Exhibit A the 2nd largest city in New Eng­land Worces­ter MA:

School safety liai­son Rob Pezzella says schools and police have already imple­mented a mea­sure offi­cials announced last week by sta­tion­ing offi­cers at the district’s high schools. Addi­tional mea­sures could include metal detectors.

The new secu­rity mea­sures came in the wake of a series of weapons-​related arrests at or near some of the high schools over the past few weeks.

What inci­dents? Inci­dents like this.

Worces­ter Police arrested a 16-​year-​old stu­dent at Burn­coat High School after they say a loaded hand­gun and ammu­ni­tion was found in a con­tainer in his locker.

And this

Police on Wednes­day arrested five Worces­ter Voca­tional Tech­ni­cal High School stu­dents after a wit­ness reported see­ing them with guns in a school park­ing lot.

At Worces­ter North High a vice prin­ci­pal was assaulted try­ing to break up a fight and some teach­ers are near the break­ing point

What my col­leagues and I expe­ri­enced this week went well beyond any “dis­tur­bance” or “chal­lenge” we’ve dealt with in the past. It did not hap­pen with­out signs point­ing to the inevitable erup­tion in our hall­ways. Con­trol has been erod­ing for some time, and the rea­sons are many. North may be a brand new facil­ity, but it brings with it all the bag­gage an urban high school car­ries: a high poverty rate, under­staffing, chil­dren with intense men­tal health issues and a reluc­tance to hold stu­dents and fam­i­lies account­able for unac­cept­able behavior.

A full time offi­cer is now on duty . Coun­selor at Large Mike Gaffney put it this way

“Instead of a learn­ing envi­ron­ment, the empha­sis has been to keep chil­dren (often young adults), with no inter­est in an edu­ca­tion, in the schools to show an increase in grad­u­a­tion rates. Instead of a safe envi­ron­ment, the empha­sis has been to reduce deten­tion, sus­pen­sion, and expul­sion actions for the pur­pose of show­ing an arti­fi­cial reduc­tion in dis­ci­pli­nary issues. Mean­while, these dis­rup­tors with no inter­est in an edu­ca­tion bully, attack, and assault teach­ers and other stu­dents. Our chil­dren should not be for­saken for a statistic.”

In fair­ness to Worces­ter this is nei­ther a new nor a local prob­lem only as the national results of search for “Teacher Assaulted” in Google or Yahoo will quickly demon­strate. Nor is the focus on stats vs. teach­ing con­fined to Worces­ter as those who were will­ing to stray from the media nar­ra­tive of the Trayvon Mar­tin case could tell you:

Both of Trayvon’s sus­pen­sions dur­ing his junior year at Krop High involved crimes that could have led to his pros­e­cu­tion as a juve­nile offender. How­ever, Chief Charles Hur­ley of the Miami-​Dade School Police Depart­ment (MDSPD) in 2010 had imple­mented a pol­icy that reduced the num­ber of crim­i­nal reports, manip­u­lat­ing sta­tis­tics to cre­ate the appear­ance of a reduc­tion in crime within the school sys­tem. Less than two weeks before Martin’s death, the school sys­tem com­mended Chief Hur­ley for “decreas­ing school-​related juve­nile delin­quency by an impres­sive 60 per­cent for the last six months of 2011.” What was actu­ally hap­pen­ing was that crimes were not being reported as crimes, but instead treated as dis­ci­pli­nary infractions.

Stats vs actual learn­ing is at the heart of the Com­mon Core debate as well, but that con­ver­sa­tion is a week’s worth of pieces in itself.

As for Worces­ter, I’d like to say that these cri­sis has resulted in a renewed focus by the bureau­cracy not just on the pro­tec­tion of teach­ers and stu­dents but on the pur­pose of schools teach­ing math­e­mat­ics, sci­ence, his­tory, Eng­lish & poetry, alas it seems the focus in Worces­ter remains on per­cep­tion and ges­tures:

On Fri­day, Worces­ter pho­tog­ra­pher Troy B. Thomp­son vis­ited the high school and invited all stu­dents to par­tic­i­pate in his “No Evil Project,” which seeks to break down the stig­mas of labels.

Along the same lines as Thompson’s community-​wide project, which is cur­rently being fea­tured at the Den­holm Build­ing, stu­dents wrote out three labels they feel they rep­re­sent and pledge an act of kindness.

I can’t imag­ine Mrs. Mahoney doing this. Her gen­er­a­tion was the gen­er­a­tion of the Great Depres­sion & the Sec­ond World War. They knew what hard­ship, suf­fer­ing and loss were and under­stood that there was a cost to every­thing worth­while. Rock­ing back on your chair (these were the days before one piece desks & chairs) would cost you a nickel for the Catholic Mis­sion­ar­ies and those were the days when a rap across the knuck­les with a ruler was not going to gen­er­ate a call to DSS.

National Teach­ers day was once a sim­ple day when we remem­bered our favorite teach­ers like Mrs. Mahoney who helped make us who they are, but will the day soon come when we think of National Teach­ers day as a remem­brance to spare a thought for the mod­ern teacher who faces an envi­ron­ment fraught with dan­gers & pri­or­i­ties for the good of society.

Just like VE day. Except we’re not winning.

*****************************************************

If you want jour­nal­ism owned by you instead of the left elites I would ask you to hit DaTip­Jar and help me pay for it.

My goal is Twenty grand a year

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That gets all the bills paid. If I can get to Forty Thou­sand I can afford to travel out­side of New Eng­land and/​or hire me a blog­ger to help me get it done.

Con­sider Sub­scrib­ing 100 Sub­scribers at $20 a month will get the job done.

Sub­scribe at $50 or more in April and receive each monthly pre­mium shipped the date of your payment.

All Tip Jar hits in May of $10 or more will get a copy of Jeff Trapani’s excel­lent E-​Book Vic­tor the Mon­ster Franken­stein.

Yesterday was VE Day an unofficial holiday when we remember those who risked their lives for the good of society fighting in Europe in WW 2.

Oddly that day made me think of National Teachers day which was May 5th.

To most this might seem odd.  National Teachers day would be a day to remember the best teachers we ever had like Mrs. Teresa Mahoney who I had for both 4th & 7th Grades way back in 1972 & 1976.  She introduced me to poetry from Arthur Guiterman’s Pershing at the Front which made me smile to Countee Cullen’s Incident which made me think.

However given the situation teachers find themselves in today the VE day comparison might be apt.  Exhibit A  the 2nd largest city in New England Worcester MA:

School safety liaison Rob Pezzella says schools and police have already implemented a measure officials announced last week by stationing officers at the district’s high schools. Additional measures could include metal detectors.

 The new security measures came in the wake of a series of weapons-related arrests at or near some of the high schools over the past few weeks.

What incidents?  Incidents like this.

Worcester Police arrested a 16-year-old student at Burncoat High School after they say a loaded handgun and ammunition was found in a container in his locker.

And this

Police on Wednesday arrested five Worcester Vocational Technical High School students after a witness reported seeing them with guns in a school parking lot.

At Worcester North High a vice principal was assaulted trying to break up a fight and some teachers are near the breaking point

What my colleagues and I experienced this week went well beyond any “disturbance” or “challenge” we’ve dealt with in the past. It did not happen without signs pointing to the inevitable eruption in our hallways. Control has been eroding for some time, and the reasons are many. North may be a brand new facility, but it brings with it all the baggage an urban high school carries: a high poverty rate, understaffing, children with intense mental health issues and a reluctance to hold students and families accountable for unacceptable behavior.

A full time officer is now on duty .  Counselor at Large Mike Gaffney put it this way

“Instead of a learning environment, the emphasis has been to keep children (often young adults), with no interest in an education, in the schools to show an increase in graduation rates. Instead of a safe environment, the emphasis has been to reduce detention, suspension, and expulsion actions for the purpose of showing an artificial reduction in disciplinary issues. Meanwhile, these disruptors with no interest in an education bully, attack, and assault teachers and other students. Our children should not be forsaken for a statistic.”

In fairness to Worcester this is neither a new nor a local problem only as the national results of search for “Teacher Assaulted” in Google or Yahoo will quickly demonstrate.  Nor is the focus on stats vs. teaching confined to Worcester as those who were willing to stray from the media narrative of the Trayvon Martin case could tell you:

Both of Trayvon’s suspensions during his junior year at Krop High involved crimes that could have led to his prosecution as a juvenile offender. However, Chief Charles Hurley of the Miami-Dade School Police Department (MDSPD) in 2010 had implemented a policy that reduced the number of criminal reports, manipulating statistics to create the appearance of a reduction in crime within the school system. Less than two weeks before Martin’s death, the school system commended Chief Hurley for “decreasing school-related juvenile delinquency by an impressive 60 percent for the last six months of 2011.” What was actually happening was that crimes were not being reported as crimes, but instead treated as disciplinary infractions.

Stats vs actual learning is at the heart of the Common Core debate as well, but that conversation is a week’s worth of pieces in itself.

As for Worcester, I’d like to say that these crisis has resulted in a renewed focus by the bureaucracy  not just on the protection of teachers and students but on the purpose of schools teaching mathematics,  science, history,  English & poetry, alas it seems the focus in Worcester remains on perception and gestures:

On Friday, Worcester photographer Troy B. Thompson visited the high school and invited all students to participate in his “No Evil Project,” which seeks to break down the stigmas of labels.

Along the same lines as Thompson’s community-wide project, which is currently being featured at the Denholm Building, students wrote out three labels they feel they represent and pledge an act of kindness.

I can’t imagine Mrs. Mahoney doing this.  Her generation was the generation of the Great Depression & the Second World War.  They knew what hardship, suffering and loss were and understood that there was a cost to everything worthwhile.   Rocking back on your chair (these were the days before one piece desks & chairs) would cost you a nickel for the Catholic Missionaries and those were the days when a rap across the knuckles with a ruler was not going to generate a call to DSS.

National Teachers day was once a simple day when we remembered our favorite teachers like Mrs. Mahoney who helped make us who they are, but will the day soon come when we think of National Teachers day as a remembrance to spare a thought for the modern teacher who faces an environment fraught with dangers & priorities for the good of society.

Just like VE day.  Except we’re not winning.

*****************************************************

If you want journalism owned by you instead of the left elites I would ask you to hit DaTipJar and help me pay for it.

My goal is Twenty grand a year

Olimometer 2.52

That gets all the bills paid.  If I can get to Forty Thousand I can afford to travel outside of New England and/or hire me a blogger to help me get it done.

Consider Subscribing 100 Subscribers at $20 a month will get the job done.

 

Subscribe at $50 or more in April and receive each monthly premium shipped the date of your payment.

All Tip Jar hits in May of $10 or more will get a copy of Jeff Trapani’s excellent E-Book Victor the Monster Frankenstein.