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Monday, January 14, 2013

Rotation Beats Long Term Assignment

David Hedges
A dear colleague asked me if I found it easier to cope with the professional challenges after I had been assigned to a school for more than a month, instead of for just a week.


Except if that month is September. 

We, as ATRs think that because we are human that we are entitled to respect, but, the students just see us as Subs and therefore as targets for abuse.  And that is what they do to us, pure and simple: abuse.  The abuse comes from the same deprived part of them that has been targeted by the DOE with cold, conscienceless violence.  Children become the abusers of their liberators, their educators, because instead of being nurtured for their imaginations, creativity, and curiosity, they are used as pawns in a boring, data and test driven governmental agency. 

For example, the Aim on the substitute lesson plan I was handed today read, "How can we review for the Regents Exam."  That's it.  Scare tactics.  Scare tactics are forms of abuse.  The premise is that education=exam score.  Like any corporal punishment or violent treatment, children develop a tolerance and they just act violently later, when they can, on the most vulnerable or blameless one they can get away with abusing.  The DOE has engaged in a campaign of fear- teachers are terrified of exam results and almost nobody dares ask interesting questions. 

The abuse is learned, cyclic, and there is no let up, at any moment in the day.  It is shocking.  If I were the parent of a child in just about any class where fear tactics and test data is more highly prized than human imagination and curiosity,  I would wonder where my tax dollars are going, and for what?  What students learn, in a class that is covered by someone who is labeled as a "Substitute" is that it is perfectly acceptable to be rude and even violent to the person who is assigned to watch over their safety.  "Oh, not, not my child," some parents would say, and even at the end of the day, after I have seen sweet, halo bearing children become pack wolves and tear the senior teachers apart, I cannot believe my own memory. 

This is not a complaint about my job- this is a statement about how the child's reaction is a preconditioned set of responses based on policy that dehumanizes their natural interests in life.  Kids are mad as hell and they take it out on the kindly strangers the DOE calls ATRs. 

And, we, the ATRs we are blamed for not being Saviors to a system that has been damned by Lord Bloomberg and Archangel Klein.

Parents, tax payers, citizens, our kids don't deserve to be degraded this way and the system that is supposed to be educating then ought not to be teaching them that fear tactics are an acceptable form of arriving at a civilized society.

And yeah, who are we going to get to do this job, of teaching children?  Only in a bad economy would someone choose this over say, impoverishing the middle class at a job on Wall Street?

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