Gripes & Compliments About Public Schools

[deleted account] ( 19 moms have responded )

OK, so just for a change of pace and topic. What are the gripes and/or compliments you have about your local public school? I do realize that many of you do not have school age children. But, I am at a cross-roads in my career and just looking to hear parent point of views.

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Jess - posted on 03/11/2010

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In Australia, our public primary schools... Prep to grade 7 do better academically than private schools.. This is despite the private schools actually getting more government funding than the public ones... go figure !



High school is a different story though in terms of academic achievement. I think my daughter will go to a public primary school and private high school.

[deleted account]

Oh, in the 2002-2003 school year I was at a different middle school and we were labeled underperforming. Again, my name on teh line since I was Reading Department chair. We worked our asses off that year and changed our school a complete 360! The following school year we outscored every other school in the district, just becasue we, as a staff, had a complete attitude adjustment toward high quality teaching. For that, I am very proud!

[deleted account]

Here is the irony-both of the closing schools are NOT failing. They are highly performing schools, but both a victim of the failing economy. The reasons the 2 schools are closing is due to gross under-capacity and empty classrooms throughout the entire district. My area has been struck with a ton of foreclosures and families left & right moving away from the area. One of the closing elementary has a 627 student capactity, and only 380ish are enrolled. My middle school has a 760 student capacity and only 525ish are enrolled. So that is the fiscal resposnbilitiy of the school board: how do we save money but retain high quality educators? Yes, there are several teachers in my district who I personally don't care for in regard to teaching high standards and they should not be retained. But the ultimate decision lies with the administration. At least my district doesn' have it as bad as what else I am seeing in the news around the country, and I am so very fortunate to have a backup job. The sad thing for me is that being employed in the school district gives me such a sense of community, and I will miss that community connection.

[deleted account]

Schools fail for many reasons. Sometimes, yes, bad teachers are part of the blame. But more often than not, there are many more factors that play into it.

Administration has a huge role. In the best school I taught at, the principal would pop into the classrooms unannounced to observe, come to all curriculum and technology training and help teachers solve problems within their classrooms. One example, I was having a hard time catching on to the writing curriculum my school used and the principal arranged for me to go to a workshop on the curriculum (and I got paid to go!).

By contrast, the failing school where I student taught, I wouldn't see the principal for weeks sometimes. There was no support. During one of the weeks where I was in charge of the class, a fight broke out, I wrote up the students, who were then sent back to the classroom because the principal had more important things to do than deal with a "little classroom fight." I was told to deal with it on my own. The school was a revolving door for teachers because no one wanted to teach in that environment. In fact, a retired teacher with dementia was hired to replace a teacher that quit mid-October. No joke. Poor woman couldn't remember the kids' names, the schedule and I'm not sure how the kids got taught. I would send one of my students to remind her when it was lunch time. But she was hired so there would be a warm body in that classroom.

Another factor that plays into it is parental involvement. If parents didn't have help and support from their parents when they were kids, chances are their kids won't get support from them either. At the failing school I sat in on parent/teacher conferences (as a student teacher). I was discussing with a parent that her son was struggling with his reading. She said, "Well do you think if I bought him a book and we read it together that would help him?" I was speechless. I wanted to scream, "YES! And do that NOW with your younger kids and don't wait until they are behind!" But she honestly didn't know any better. She was one of the few parents that actually showed up for the conference. Many parents just don't care. So the students fall behind, despite the teachers' best efforts.

Yes, there are bad teachers out there. But in a failing school, more than just a few bad teachers are to blame.

Kelly - posted on 03/10/2010

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Thank you for your answer Sharon. I have never really been involved in anything like this. I am assuming that they chose to close the two most under-performing schools? (This is what would make sense to me) I'm not saying you are a bad teacher, but these things happen. If you look at it from the outside, (like I am) wouldn't you say logically that teachers from those schools (assuming they had the lowest rating) had more to fear than the teachers from the other schools? It sucks that even more people are going to lose their jobs in this time and economy. It seems you are one of the lucky ones that already have a backup job offer, which shows you are a great teacher. I can't really question your obviously strong feelings about sending your son to school in a district that gave you a pink slip. I do know people however, that teach in one district and send their kids to another, or sometimes to private school. Maybe being that it is kindergarten, it won't be such a big deal since he is young enough not to be really attached to friends.

As far as lawsuits go, I would think that being a teacher is similar to being a cop in that respect. The department or district gets sued, and the individual cop or teacher gets drug into the case as a witness or whatever. The fact that parents would drag a teacher into a custody dispute is just sickening. I do think that we need major tort reform in this country. People are hyped up to sue over just about anything these days and it is absolutely crazy. All it does is waste money that is better spent elsewhere, waste time that could also be better spent, and forces people like yourself, doctors, cops, etc to worry more about getting sued than about what really matters, which is doing your job well.

Thanks for sharing your story, I hope it works out for you. I do firmly believe that when God shuts a door, He opens a window. I know from past posts you may not agree with that statement, but I'll say it anyway :-)

[deleted account]

Yes Kelly, there is more going on in my district that I shared in previous posts, so here is the full story:



In my district, there are 5 elementary schools K-5, 2 middle schools grade 6-8, and one 9-12 high school.



One elementary & one middle school is closing. The district will be restructured making the remaining 4 elementary a K-6 school, and the 1 middle school will serve grade 7 & 8. High school remains the same. Elementary school zone boundaires will be altered to distribute the students from the closing school. I teach at one of the closing middle schools PLUS I rotate to all 5 elementary schools for the Gifted pull-out program. With school closings, staff & teachers are going to be layed off. The district is then keeping only a certain alloted amount to fill the needs of the remaining job slots. My elementary gifted position is on the line since the state is no longer funding gifted education. The kids will be serviced other ways. I am NOT an elementary certified teacher. I am Special Education K-12 certified, but with a Gifted endorsement. However I no longer teach SpEd and haven't since 2001. I am also Secondary 7-12 English certified. So the only place the district can legally hire me, per NCLB, is in a 7-12 setting. As far as the primary K-2 teachers in my district, the ones being retained all being pooled together, and then reassigned. Some may continue in their current teaching assignment, one Kinder teacher is looping to 1st grade, and one 2nd grade teacher is considering taking a K or 1st position. K-6 teachers can teach at any level and that it the instability I am worried about. There are wonderful, amazing teachers in my district. I support my fellow teachers 100%. But I will not teach in one district and send my son elsewhere. I can't whole-heartedly support the district who determines I'm not good enough to keep around. So you see that if I am retained in my district at the 7-12 level, then my son will also attend one of the 4 remaining elementary schools. If I do not get a contract renewal and go elsewhere, then my son comes with me.



Oh, and as far as being named in a lawsuit, yes, that happened when I taught in a very affluent district and I was the Special Ed. teacher. The parent did not agree with his son's placement and label, and went through the legal process. It was certainly his right to do so, but ultimately the school was right. I had to sign an affidavit and put MY NAME on the line potentially causing backlash to my career. And then another time I was called in as a witness during a nasty custody hearing from a former 7th grader.

[deleted account]

Just to interject, yes, I do know teachers that have been sued. When I taught I wanted protection against that.

Okay, carry on.

Kelly - posted on 03/10/2010

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I guess what doesn't make sense to me is why they apparently would be getting rid of all the teachers just to bring in new ones? (maybe I am not reading that right....) I guess if you want your son in the same school you teach at that would be your choice, and I certainly can't fault you for that. The main thing that confuses me is that you said "In the event I am retained in my district and placed in a grade 7-12 setting, then I have no problem at all sending my son to the elementary school that the rest of the neighborhood kids go to." And then you say you don't even know if the same Kinder teachers will still be there. Personally I would think that who is actually teaching your son should be the bigger concern here, not whether you retain your position or not. In no way am I judging you or saying that you are wrong, I just wouldn't base where my daughter attended school solely on my own employment. Maybe there is a lot more behind your decision and you are just simplifying it here?

[deleted account]

Quoting Kelly: " I do think it is a little strange that you are considering not sending your kid to school in your district based solely on the fact that you may not have a job there. If it's a good public school, why wouldn't you still send them since it seems you were planning on it when you were sure you had a job?"

Fair enough question, so let me respond. In the event I am retained in my district and placed in a grade 7-12 setting, then I have no problem at all sending my son to the elementary school that the rest of the neighborhood kids go to. In fact, I adore all of the Kinder teachers there. However, the entire district is being completely revamped, and those Kinder teachers may not teach Kinder next year. I also know that the current principal is moving to the middle school, and my current principal is going to the elementary school. Many of the staff members of both principals are also shifting, so no one really has a clue as to which teacher is teaching what grade level at what site. I don't fully support the higher level adminsitrators and feel they made many poor choices over the years. I have been on various committees over the years and have witnessed first-hand on "playing favorites" in district, which happens in every work setting too. There are several colleagues who feel the same and are also contemplating pulling their children from the district if they are not rehired. Trust me when I say this is a decision that is painful to make because I have put 9 years of my career into the district at varying positions. Lucky for me, I have been offered another position in a neighboring school district. It is a K-8 building and it is to my advantage to bring my son with me to this new school for Kindergarten. We will still be part of our own community through sports and activities, just no longer associated with the school district. But, we shall see what comes down the pike on Friday.

Rosie - posted on 03/10/2010

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my gripe about public school is how they use my taxes. this year my property tax went up $50 a month. when i went to my 5 year olds kindergarten round-up i was told by a teacher, that she may not be there when school starts because of budget issues. if that happens she will be fired, and they will take another teacher from an elementary school in our district and put her at this school. in turn the class sizes are going to be larger, and i'll still be having to pay more money.



i don't have any clue how private schools work, i don't even know of a private school anywhere near me. i don't feel the need to pay for my childs education twice, i'm already paying to the public school through my taxes, i just don't see the point of paying another school. i have no qualms about how my children are learning in public school. i only have one in school right now, but he is well above average compared to the other kids in my state, and i feel it has to do with how he has been taught in the public school system.

Kelly - posted on 03/10/2010

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Now, don't get me wrong, I am not trying to start a fight here.......... Do you support this healthcare deal that they are trying to pass? (just curious) As far as protection goes, it's a two way street. I understand that lawsuits happen, and some are beyond rediculous. But realistically, how often does that truely happen? Have you ever been sued in your years as a teacher? Have there been lawsuits at your school for stupid crap? Personally I have seen teachers in some districts that are protected when they should be fired, and stripped of their credentials. As for vouchers, I can see very few other "social" programs that are more worthy of tax dollars than the education of future generations. Yes, it is possible for kids to get scholarships, but more often than not, people are left with no other option than to send their kids to TAXPAYER FUNDED sub-par public schools. I do think it is a little strange that you are considering not sending your kid to school in your district based solely on the fact that you may not have a job there. If it's a good public school, why wouldn't you still send them since it seems you were planning on it when you were sure you had a job?

[deleted account]

Oh I can go on an don about how backwards Arizona is towards education. It is nothing like growing up in New Jersey where the educational systems were financially supported. I also have no problem whatsoever getting rid of the bad teachers, as long as it is done properly and with solid documentation. I'll tell you why I completely disagree with a voucher system. Vouchers are funded through tax dollars-my tax dollars. I do not want my tax dollars to support someone else's private school education, especially a religiously based private school education. That is why many private schools offer reduced and or free scholoarship tuition for lower income students. We all know the data and statistics about failing schools. THAT is when you get rid of the bad teachers/administrators the right way, and bring in all new educational teams. Teacher unions fight for the menial teacher rights that we do have-PROTECTION. What do I get? Most likely a RIF notice on Friday as "thanks, but no thanks we no longer need you". So how can I justify sending my son to our community schools when teh district is most likely to not rehire me?

[deleted account]

Kelly, teacher's unions do have their place. In today's world, a teacher can and will be sued over just about anything. A kid falls off the monkey bars and breaks her arm. Recess duty teacher gets sued. Teacher union backs her up and keeps her from financial ruin (because teacher's do not make enough, why do people think they can sue them? they have no money!) Anyway, I agree that job status should be based on performance. Teachers should be regularly observed by the principal and district/state officials. In the district I last taught in, this was a regular practice and bad teachers were weeded out each year. They are the top school district in the state. But I also think unions are important to protect teachers, because like doctors and phony malpractice suits, teachers get sued over stupid stuff pretty often.

Kelly - posted on 03/10/2010

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From a parent's view, (and a former student) I can see the benefit of no unions or tenure. While there are many good and knowlegable teachers out there, there are also quite a few bad ones. We get "stuck" with these bad apples because of tenure and unions. I have friends who are teachers, and I know a little about how much work, and money the average teacher puts in that is not compensated. I think it takes a special person to be a teacher. However, I do think it is important for teachers to be constantly stepping up their game so to speak. I really don't see anything wrong with teachers not being able to count on tenure. Other industries don't allow for that much job security either. If you are a good teacher, you shouldn't have to worry. As far as public school, I am sure there are good ones out there. My daughter attends private school, and God willing will attend private school until she graduates from H.S. Our reasoning is the quality of education received, and our own personal goals for our kids. No Child Left Behind in my opinion doesn't work, and I for one am a supporter of school vouchers. Let the bad schools fail. Just because someone doesn't live in the "right" district, or can't afford public school doesn't mean their kids don't deserve the same chance at a good education. My personal opinion is that unions have a big part to play in the fact that school vouchers are such an issue, and that to me is reason enough to dislike them. That and my own experience of being a "union member" without union representation, but that is another topic.

[deleted account]

Sharon, I am so sorry to hear that! I hate that you are losing your job. Unfortunately, there has been talk of that in districts around here. No teacher unions!!!??? Wow. Move here. We would love to have you!

I too loved teaching, but at this point in my life I just want to raise my kids and not have to worry about the stress that comes from being a public school teacher (that most people have no clue about). It has nothing to do with the kids. I loved the kids and planning lessons for them. I plan on going back once my kids are all in school.

[deleted account]

Sara, this is one of my gripes as well-NCLB. I am highly qualified here and there, yet I am still b eing asked to take one more test for certification and more coursework that at this point, I can't afford. My district is in such a financial crisis right now and are closing 2 schools. I teach at one of those 2 schools, so this Friday is round one of teacher lay-offs. Or, technically speaking, RIF-reduction in force. Arizona has no teacher unions and no guarantee that you get a contract. Lawmakers just took away teacher tenure as well. I've been teaching for 14 years, 9 years in my current district. Yet my job is on the line and I have to fill out a silly matrix to see if I will get hired for next year. If I am "rif"d, then I will not support the schools and my son will not enter Kindergarten in the district. Anyway, as much as I truly love teaching and the kids, I am so sick of the administrative crap! And on top of that...I am certified in Administration-yet can't get hired in any admin position!

[deleted account]

I don't have a school aged child, but I used to be a public school teacher. So this comes from a teacher's POV, not a parent's.

I have to say that you will find fabulous public schools and terrible public schools. You just have to do your research. The good ones all had a few common factors: supportive administrative staff, active PTO (PTA), lots of "extras" for kids to participate in including sports, music, art, etc. (I taught in an inner-city school and a suburban school that these statements apply to and both were amazing schools) Just make the opposite statement for the bad schools.

One gripe in general about all public schools: No Child Left Behind. Good thought, but terrible execution. Testing students is not the way to make sure students know and understand what they should at their grade level. But that is a whole different debate.

Tah - posted on 03/09/2010

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i don't have a problem with the ones here in va, but i didn't want my children in the philadelphia public school system because when i went from catholic to pub in 11th,

i was on a higher reading and comprehension level then most of the students,

text books were handed out in the beginning of class and you prob had to share and then collected at the end of class,(how that prepares you for a test, i still don't know)

I like the ones here, because the classes are smaller, they offer didn't classes, like career discovery)they didn't just huddle us in a auditorium and give us all the asvab as if we had no other options)

Cassie - posted on 03/09/2010

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Well... I work in an inner-city public elementary school so my opinions are swayed by that fact and I don't really have that much to add but..



Gripes:

-Classroom size: we have approximately 30 students per teacher so children are not given the one on one attention they would really benefit from.

-Lack of access to properly sized facilities (this isn't the fault of the school necessarily but more an issue of lack of funding)- I, for example, work with 30 students, five at a time, in the hall way because there is not a single room in the building available to a non-classroom teacher.



Compliments

- Our teachers do a wonderful job openly communicating with the parents and making them feel welcome to stop by the school at any time.

-Our administrator is a dream who is able to create a school filled with very respectful children and staff!

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