Monday, May 28, 2007

Teaching in Eugene

I am a bit frustrated. I am not a teacher or the parent of a High school student; I am, however the husband of a high school teacher. Having been the spouse of a teacher for seven years I think that I would be used to the abuse that teachers get and could just be loving toward my wife when she gets home and not be upset about all the stuff she has to deal with.

....No, it is not that easy.

I am guessing that the only people that are reading this blog, who live in Eugene, already know my wife and have maybe heard the story. Please pass this on, hopefully, any parents who have kids going into the public schools will read it.

When I met her she was just finishing up her B.A. In Math education at UC Santa Cruz; not only did she graduate with honors but was well liked by her professors and fellow students. She was passoinate about teaching, especially, to those who did not have much social capital.
She chose to get her credential at Mills College in Oakland; one of the top two teaching schools in California.

She graduated from Mills and went straight to teaching at a middle school in our neighborhood. Though is was difficult she did well and so did her students. She taught there for five years then moved to Eugene. She has been teaching High school for the past year and things have not been going well for her.

Within the first couple of months she had several (seems that way from my perspective) students request to drop her class. She had parents complaining about her banning calculators and that their kids were not passing. This seemed to go on for some time with her coming home feeling depressed and incapable of teaching. She also did not feel that she was getting support from her principle but when asked how her department head felt, she would perk up and say that her department head liked her.

Finally, at some point in January, a retired math teacher came in to observe her class. Her report was that she was doing a great job and is a competent math teacher. That lifted her spirits for some time and things were much better for a few months. Now that the school year is winding down one would think that things would get better. She is having more kids dropping her classes, she has had one really difficult parent conference, and has been coming home in tears almost every day.

Granted, I am not a student in her class, I am biased. The only times that I have directly experienced her teaching is when she helped me with my algebra classes and when she tutored our eleven year old. ( I passed with an A, and my son knows his multiplication tables and is doing well in his pre algebra classes.)

When she comes home feeling like dirt and tells me that her students are just smirking at her because they know that mom and dad will pull them from her class if they blame her for their bad grades; it puts me into a very bad mood. She had one parent insist that she be suspended from teaching.

It just seems so utterly pathetic to me. How can they really be blaming her for their kids failure? If their kids are not doing well they need to look at what their kids are doing wrong and look at what they are doing wrong. Teachers are professionals they have studied what they are teaching and are aware of the standards.

Maybe things will be easier next year.

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