Monday, May 23, 2011

How A Job Ends


From the beginning, my case was "different." Already had a master's in fine arts, but not in education. So my teaching credential hinged on an "alternative pathway." There was this pathway, or maybe this other pathway, or this pathway that was sort of right but not really.

A long way down my dimly-lit pathway, which was rife with potholes and puddles and alligators, I came to suspect this was not the right program and began questioning the process. My Ph.D. advisors at the Western New Mexico University School of Education told me to shut up. I continued, but kept asking questions, kept getting told to shut up. So it went. I brought in the district. They were very sympathetic but did not have many answers. On it went.

Finally, confirmation that I was not on the right pathway, there was this other pathway I was supposed to be in, the one I described at the beginning, the one that Western denied even existed. Now they said, "Here, try this pathway. And shut up."

But there is a clock on the process, you see, and I no longer had time to complete it before the blade came down on my neck. Back to the district. A long conference call with the state government. What could be done? The state said, try this and that, and you can finish it.

So we arranged for this and that, and weeks later the state changed the story again, saying this and that would not cut it, instead we would have to do A-through-Z in a few days' time, which was not possible short of disturbing the time-space continuum. No extensions. Lacking a cell phone number for Doctor Who, nothing could be done. No license, no teach.

On the very day it became clear that I would lose my job over other people's negligence and lack of interest, I was told that my name had come up at a school board meeting. The district had won an arts grant in large part because of its innovative elementary theatre program, which had (among other things) gotten fifth-grade English language learners reading and arguing about Shakespeare. A credit to the district!

That's how this job ends. It presents a problem for me, but the biggest cost is to my school's principal (who is losing a good program for reasons that are not her fault) and, of course, to those who come first: our kids.

14 comments:

Petteri Sulonen said...

Aw, snap.

I think that even with your m4d Z3n sk1llz, you're entitled to a very small private curse at the unfairness of bureaucratic stupidity.

I'll skip the usual platitudes, but, er, metta and all that commotion. To you, the principal, and especially the kids.

Nathan said...

Sucks! Sorry to hear it. It just astounds me sometimes how stupid we've gotten about running education in this country, but then I remember it's the U.S. and whatever astounding feeling slinks quickly away.

Best wishes to you, your family, and the kids you worked with.

Kelly said...

This is such a shame, Algernon!

Hal Johnson said...

Aw, crap.

Steve said...

I wish that I could say that I was surprised, but I am not. You are not the first to find themselves in the same or a similar situation...

Mandy_Fish said...

I'm sorry to hear this too.

Pam said...

I really hate to hear this, Alg, but can't say I'm surprised. Here in my part of Texas with its exemplary schools that families move here to enroll in has had the rug snatched out from under it this sprng.

Programs, teachers, alternative teachers are being chopped, axed and riffed like some bloody massacre! It's appalling as one working it the system and having 2 grandchildren in it.

I have friends who are magnificent educators being riffed due to only having alternative certificates or probationary status. Teachers who excel in math are being shown the door. Class sizes will increase, programs cut, and special education departments are almost impossibly struggling to meet the "legally required" needs of our most vulnerable students.

I realize budgets need to be pared down, but I have to wonder at the logic of shortchanging the educational as well as the medical needs of our future. It's not just here in Texas, it's all over the country.

Jomon said...

Oh No! I am sorry to hear this! Indeed the kids and the school are losing out too... and I hope there is a clearer pathway that presents itself now for you.

Petteri Sulonen said...

@Pam, there's an alternative to paring down budgets, you know. R...g t...s. Developed countries generally have much bigger public sectors than the USA.

Algernon said...

I should point out that my own case does not have to do with New Mexico's budget woes. My position was not eliminated, just me.

But to Pam and Petteri, this is one of the sad things going on in the USA. There is a persistent belief that a corporation will always be more efficient and effective than a public institution. The public sector is demonized, to justify cutting its budget. When it can no longer perform its services (because its budget has been cut), the privatization begins, and soon we are paying more to the private sector (profit profit profit) for public services.

It has progressed to the point where public education is being dismantled, and there are politicians talking openly about gutting Medicare. This is partly an ideological stance, and partly collusion with private business interests. The suffering is immense and yet enough people buy into this that we still don't see the mass movements like we saw in Greece or Egypt.

Petteri Sulonen said...

We had some privatization mania back in the '90's over here too. Very mixed results. I'd say it worked well in telecoms, pretty badly in power, badly in public transportation, and really badly in public-sector IT, which basically ended up handing everything over to Microsoft.

For some stuff, the public sector works best. For other stuff, the private sector works better. Trouble is, nobody knows for certain what works where, and if somebody claims to do so, they're full of it.

Pam said...

I would be happy to see my property taxes raised here. In fact, I think they plan to do so in order to fund an 'academy', for God's sake!!!

We're losing excellent teachers in all our public schools and now they want to build another for a select few?

I live in what is also called a Robin Hood district where our property taxes also go to pay for public education in other counties.

This practice was supposed to be dismantled but it still exists. I'm all for good public education for ALL our kids, but I prefer my property taxes to be dedicated to the public schools in my city.

When times are tough and more funding is needed for my public schools, raise my property taxes. Just keep my tax money for my city schools.

Frankly, it's time that we figure out what really matters and makes a difference in educating our kids. Throwing more money and teaching to more and more standardized tests the majority of the school year is not producing kids with quality education.

It's sad to think that I graduated from a public high school in Arkansas in the early 60s and was better prepared for college than either my kids or my grandkids.

I'm all for raising taxes where needed.

Anonymous said...

WNMU does not have a Ph.D. program. Are you sure you weren't the one confused??

Algernon said...

Huh? I don't understand your comment. I wasn't in a Ph.D. program or looking for one. My advisor had a Ph.D. which she earned elsewhere, I don't remember where.