Je ne regrette rien

New Orleans: We Didn’t Get New Books This Year

043949270x_lgRecently, I spent an extra day volunteering in my daughter’s classroom. I arrived and nine and stayed until school dismissal, helping with the lessons of the day, explaining new vocabulary words, trying to correct bad habits like “We be doing this lesson, Mrs. M”, and generally observing. I love my time in the classroom with the kids. I really do.

That being said, while wondering the halls and inside the class, there are a few observations that I made that were disturbing to me. I know if I have observed them, others have as well. If others have observed them, why aren’t they as shocked as I am?

1. I observed teachers text messaging while walking their students down the hall, in the middle of classes, and while students waited to ask their teachers questions. This didn’t happen in the classroom I was in, as the teacher felt the same way about this as I did, however it was happening enough for me to notice and to be highly annoyed.

2. I heard one teacher share personal information with the class about one of her students. The door was open, so anyone passing by could have heard this as well. It dealt with the children confessing to abuse at home, and now the police were getting involved. This should be a good thing, right? Well, according to this teacher it is not, and she instructed her students to not tell anyone anything that happens at home because you could easily be taken away from your parents. (I. WAS. SHOCKED.)

3. I heard various teachers yelling throughout the day at their students, cutting them down, asking “What is wrong with you children?” and singling students out. I saw a few students reduced to tears, then scolded for showing any type of emotion.

4. I witnessed a mother, a school employee, come into the classroom when her son was completely out-of-line and smack him across the back of the head, telling him to answer a question, threatening that if he didn’t she would embarrass him in front of the whole class. (Granted, this child was being a discipline problem, but did that really have to happen?)

5.  I witnessed a volunteer from one of the colleges disrespect the teacher during a discussion on slavery, telling the teacher that she was absolutely wrong, and that black people did have a write to be angry at the white people in the United States because we took advantage of them. The teacher was trying to explain England’s role in slavery. It should be noted that the volunteer does not come in to volunteer in class, but to serve as a reading buddy for one of the students, and is only at the class door while waiting to get the student and while bringing the student back to class.

6.  I witnessed a teacher become so angry at a student that he threw a project that he made across the room, breaking it, telling the student that he was now going to get an F, when the student did amazing on the project, the teacher was just at his wit’s end for the day.

7. I witnessed the amount of supplies that teacher’s buy for their own classroom, everyday supplies, that the school does not reimburse them for.

8. I witnessed the sub par offering that RSD considers a decent hot meal for lunch. Every lunch, with the exception of two served occasionally, consists of something over white rice. Still trying to figure out if that is a regional thing or if that is a way the RSD tries to save money.

9. I witnessed four fights. Each boy trying to prove how hard he was to the other. Each boy targeting a much, much smaller kid.

10. I witnessed a social worker really get through to a kid by relating to him on his terms. I heard the whole conversation from the hallway, however, instead of meeting the kid in private where they could talk about what was really going on.

11. The granddaddy of them all, to me anyway, is when my class was getting their science homework. The workbooks were passed out, mostly because the students do not have room in their desks with all of the LEAP textbooks and workbooks they are given, and they were discussing the homework as a class. One student raised his hand and when called on, he told the teacher his workbook already had writing in it. The teacher responded, “We didn’t get new books this year, so you are just going to have to ignore their answers.”

Wow.

Call me naive. Perhaps maybe I am a bit to the workings of an inner city school, but can’t they at least provide the children with workbooks each year so they can actually learn? I understand the importance of the LEAP test and what the data means for the school, but do we really want our children to fall further behind in things they should currently be learning because “We didn’t get new books this year?”

Anyway, some observations made that were odd enough to impact me for the day.

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9 Responses

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  1. prissy said, on February 1, 2009 at 10:41 am

    all of this makes me very sad,, I could never be a teacher. My heart would be broken every day.
    Did I ever tell you . My major was education?
    Sure was, and my first week of student teaching ,, my four tires slashed…
    The very next day I changed my major from education to Liberal Arts,,,, I think it was the best decision I ever made..
    so I am going to Dallas for 4 days in Mid March, to do a trafficking conference,, cant wait… Get to see my buddies in the same field as I. Get to sleep in a nice comfybed at the Hyatt and plus,, way too much food,,, lol
    ilu

  2. sheber said, on February 1, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    That is why parents need to spend some time at their childrens’ schools. So, I’m curious…
    What did you do about it?

  3. Em said, on February 2, 2009 at 5:07 am

    I hate to say it, but many of these observations happen at my charter school as well.

  4. LatinTeacher said, on February 2, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I can’t believe what you have written here. As a teacher, I find this inexcusable. The environment is not conducive to learning or living. However, none of this sounds new. It sounds like its part of the school’s culture. And that cannot possibly be a good thing. Observations like these are hugely important and can lead to substantive changes if they are ever addressed.

    Except for the part about rice. There are stories of soldiers during WWII being asked to be sent home because they don’t really like potatoes. If I had my way here in PA, I would eat white rice 5 days a week.

  5. Nola said, on February 3, 2009 at 3:31 am

    It IS a good lesson on why parent involvement with school is important. But it is just a sad commentary on the New Orleans public school system. The question isn’t what DID you do, it’s what CAN you do? How frustrating.

  6. LisaPal said, on February 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    This also sounds a lot like the charter school that both my kids attended. (It was a magnet school before the storm.) I ended a 15 year relationship with the school last year because of many of the same things you’ve described. (My daughter’s teacher had frequent cell phone conversations of a personal nature– she didn’t even bother to text– and was often observed shopping online during class. I could tell so many stories about this teacher.) Parental involvement? This school was big on it and believe me, many of us tried again and again to address these problems in every way we could think of and we were put off again and again. I hear the problems are even worse this year. I’m so glad we’re out but I feel horrible for the parents who didn’t have any other options. And this is supposed to be one of the better schools in the city. (The middle school is really where most of the problems are. Thankfully, the elementary school still has some great teachers.)

    I wish you well. This is some tough stuff to deal with and I know you’ve had more than your share of that kind of thing lately. (I’ve gotten to know you from the NOLA bloggers’ list-serve.)

    Lisa

  7. storelady said, on February 4, 2009 at 10:42 am

    wow, it sounded like you were at my school. I try daily to make our world (preK 4) a safe place to be, and it gets harder and harder. I’ve been at it for 32 years, and I won’t give up, but public school is a rough place, sad to say.

  8. amy said, on February 7, 2009 at 2:28 am

    hi from another mom in a similar situation. i would really love to talk to you, please email me when you get a chance. thanks!

  9. […] Orleans Education: Parents Association Denied Jump to Comments In this post, I discuss the observations that I have made while volunteering at my daughter’s school. Some […]


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