We have an issue at work these days. For anyone who doesn’t know, for the time being, I’m a teacher at a high-poverty, low-performing public school. According to last year’s high-stakes testing, we are actually the lowest-performing elementary school in the entire district. That’s not good.
Because of the poor test results, the Principal of the past six years was removed in the middle of the summer. He was replaced by a woman who has quite the reputation in the district. When people out in the community find out who our Principal is, they generally make the sign of the cross. And, no, that’s not an exaggeration.
This woman is vile. She makes Kevin Spacey look like Mr. Rogers. Staff members have been dropping like flies. The Assistant Principal, the confidential secretary, the data processor, the attendance clerk, two different IT guys, and about twenty custodians have been replaced. People have been escorted out by police, only to have this woman tell us in a staff meeting how she clung to their ankles and begged them not to leave.
Teachers have been singled out and bullied, called on their mobile phones after hours and told that they’re not being “team players.” While I’ve had one documented observation, some of my colleagues have them nearly every week, and they’re told that they’re not working hard enough, that their skills are inferior.
Paranoia reigns, and it’s not uncommon for folks to look over their shoulder before they talk to their friends and co-workers. Stories abound of Admin listening in to conversations, of loyalists who report back on things that people say.
That’s not all, either. There is evidence that the Administration has tampered with the recent standardized diagnostic testing, the tests that predict how students will do on the formal tests in the spring. There is also evidence that Administration is playing fast and loose with finances, failing to comply with district-mandated procedures regarding money students pay for special events.
All of which is why, very quietly, a small group of us is working with the union to see that these things are investigated. It’s not unheard of for a Principal to be removed from a school if it is deemed that that Administrator is creating a hostile work environment.
Morale is in the sewer, to say the least. Unlike every year since I started working at this school, there is no formal holiday party planned. Which is why a few trusted friends and I thought it would be nice to get a group together for an informal holiday happy hour at a local watering hole. Just a little spirit-booster to say, ‘Hey, we’re in this together.’
A little spazz we like to refer to as Hurricane (who wasn’t included on the invite list, by the way) got wind of our plan and decided EVERYONE needed to be invited. I’ve seen her running around the school, babbling like a slot machine that hasn’t stopped spinning, telling everyone about where and when. She even marched herself into the office and invited Administration.
So. A handful of people, including some of those who have been removed, are meeting in a very different location from the original plan. It’s not what I’d intended it to be. I wanted to give some folks a bit of hope right here before Christmas.
What about me? Like I said, knock wood, by and large they seem to be leaving me alone. But when you hear about groups of teachers being called in and berated about ridiculous things, you know it’s only a matter of time.
I’m quietly planning on this being my last year in education. The industry sucks anyway, and this situation only exacerbates that fact. Luckily, because of ignorant choices I made early on, I can actually retire any time I like, taking with me a nice nest egg of a retirement, plus they’ll buy out my banked sick hours at 100%.
Next fall, when every is dragging themselves back to the grind, I’ll be writing full-time. But I might as well raise a little hell before I go. 😉