Thursday, September 07, 2006

Why Don't Quality Teachers Go To The Small Schools?

In an Edwize article a comment by the respected Peter Goodman of Unity (yes I do respect his opinon - unlike the rest of the Unity hacks) stated that the small schools would have welcomed any of these excessed teachers if they only showed up for an interview? That left the unaware of why wouldn't an experienced quality teacher interview in a small school that would welcome them with open arms? Well, if I have one problem with Peter, it is his bias in pushing small schools and ignore the problems with many of them. Including their inability to attract experienced quality teachers. Therefore, after talking with a few excessed teachers who did interview at small schools, I decided to come up with a hypothetical interview of an excessed Chemistry teacher at the 350 student small school called The School of Environmental Justice.

School: Why do you want a position at our school?

Teacher: I want to teach in a classroom, not being a day-to-day sub in my home school.

School: Why?

Teacher: I fell embarrassed and my self-esteem has suffered in working in a school that no
longer can use me as a classroom teacher. It's difficult to face my ex students as a sub.

School: What did you teach in your school?

Teacher: Chemistry, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science.

School: Have you taught Living Environment, Earth Science, & Physics?

Teacher: Not recently, and I have never taught Physics.

School: In our school we have no money for AP courses and you will be required to teach all four
Regents science courses.

Teacher: You mean four preps?

School Yes.

Teacher: Will lab preparation be my professional assignment?

School: Yes, but in our school the teachers must do an administrative assignment as well.

Teacher: Like what?

School: Hallway duty, cafeteria patrol, or policing the bathrooms.

Teacher: Are there any other duties you expect me to do?

School? Yes, we expect you to volunteer for Saturday instruction and help in our after school

Teacher: Will I get paid for the extra work?

School: Sorry, we don't have the funds to pay the teachers anything extra.

Teacher: Let me get this straight. I must teach four different Regents science courses, volunteer to teach on Saturday for free, do a professional and administrative assignment, and help out in the after school program?

School: Yes, and by the way, you will become a team leader and spend an occasional lunch with your group of students. See, we can only afford one guidance officer and the teachers must do double duty.

Teacher: Thank you for the interview but I think I will stay at my school as an ATR until a real teaching position becomes available.


HappyChyck said...

Wow! Dead on! I started in a small school, where I had a ton of duties, many of which either were done for little or no money. When I moved to a larger school district to a school 10 times the size of my last school, I found I had so much free time because really all I had to do was teach.

There are a lot of advantages to teaching in a smaller school, but "having a life" is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

The "having a life" thing would be a deal-breaker for me too, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Some of that is dead on, parts are pretty far off.

The four preps nonesense comes up, but not too often. Most small schools add a science teacher each year. Figure 100 - 150 teachers need living environment as freshman. When they add a grade they add a teacher and a subject, say earth science. And so on.

The abuse of time is quite common. And the extra assignments abound. I would guess that many small schools simply assign people to various jobs, administrative, professional, whatever. I have also heard of teachers being required to do work outside of school hours.

This detail is worth remembering: some principals do it because they can get away with it, others abuse staff because they really have no clue about the rules.

We need to treat this as a non-union industry and run an organizing drive with a huge education component.

Anonymous said...

wow, I was exhausted when I typed. A number of errors. Damn parade.

100 - 150 students, not teachers, per year.

I would guess that many schools assign people... without bothering with postings or Circular 6R.

to do work outside of school hours without compensation. (Even with compensation it would be bad)

The "have no clue" comment should have connected the dots and warned of the danger of having complete incompetents running schools, especially where there is no established union (established chapters in some schools force structure onto principals which helps hide the p's lack of knowledge).

And the need to organize the unorganize, even if they already pay dues, I'll start posting about that.

Chaz said...


I was using a "worst case" scenario. I'm sure most small school teachers only have three preps.

Another reason not to go to the parade, I make enough spelling errors as is.

Anonymous said...

Ny first semester I had five preps. Started out with four, but got a program change.

MsMalarkey said...

Saturday school as a VOLUNTEER? Ridiculous.

I am in a small middle school, but very lucky- our current principal's not making us do hall duty, and people who work Saturdays get per session. But I know the school downstairs from us has a Principal's Academy grad and the teachers are quite unhappy. I already worry a little about what will happen when my principal eventually retires.

Anonymous said...

I work in a small school in East New York. I have 1 prep, 1 circular 6 asignment (common planning/team meetings) and one period just for meetings. I have to go to trips to other states with the kids, come back a 10 pm and I don't get paid. I have 36 students in one class (Math B) and around 8 - 10 observations a year. I am treated like crap, and the Principal prefers younger teachers (alias Teach for America/ Teaching fellows) and she praises them in meetings calling them "gems"....

Anonymous said...


you have the right to grieve per session pay issues. (22B2a2). If you do not feel able to file at this time, have you begun speaking to the other staff members about how to proceed? Sometimes it takes a while to convince staff that these rights really exist, and that they are worth standing up for. In discussing the problem you will help educate other members. And the goal should remain, get the contract enforced. If it is a process getting there, so be it. The goal is good and right and you should not give up.