Friday, August 25, 2006

A stressful week

Last year at Grace’s school there was an older teacher who didn’t seem to cut it anymore. Various parents observed him teach and wrote up their rather damning observations and dispatched them into the school district bureaucracy. When finally confronted by a parent the teacher said something like ‘I used to be a good teacher but I’m not now. I’m going to retire’. He then disappeared and a long term sub finished out the year.

This year Grace goes into 5th grade and she was supposed to be getting the wizard math and science teacher. Instead it seemed she was getting the older teacher mentioned above. The wizard teacher is off teaching a 4th/5th split class. No-one exactly knows what is going on. There aren’t many other activist parents with kids in the 5th grade class (often of course this translates to middle class parents) . And the class is very small (20 kids). Are these moves to avoid trouble?

We meet the new principal. He’s supportive, but can’t do anything. He says maybe even his boss can’t do anything. His boss won’t return calls. Eventually we get a meeting downtown with the boss. We get some of the parents who had experienced last years events to come too. The boss is supportive and listens but he is not allowed to say anything about our guy. It’s an HR issue. We can’t talk to HR. We redeliver the notes that last year’s parents wrote. The boss hasn’t seen them. It’s clear that the notes are great. Anything where the teacher might have broken a rule is good (like when he gave candy to the kids), but opinion, (like his quote about not being a good teacher) is useless.

Two days later and we’re invited to help hire a new 5th grade teacher. Phew. But we still don’t know what was going on and we probably never will. After the meeting downtown I looked up the guy’s teaching credentials (you can do this online) and he had let his credentials lapse. So probably he never intended to return and the school district just dropped the ball.

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