LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

SHOOL’S a BITCH

Dear Artvoice,

As a teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools for 17 of my 18 year teaching career, I have come to one ineffable conclusion:  The Buffalo Public School System does not give one shit about the students it is charged with servicing.  While all this discussion of Carl Paladino and his foul commentary is entertaining in a “I-Can’t-Believe-This-Is-Actually-Real-Life” kind of way, it only serves to divert attention away from the fact that there is not one ounce of merit to the education in any of the Buffalo Public Schools.

The board is so insanely busy in-fighting that they forget that there are children subjected to an education so irrelevant that they are, quite literally, driving them into failure.

“Downtown” [administration] is over-inflated with useless people and pointless positions that any dope with a friend in central office can secure themselves a position…or have one created for them.  Yesterday, we actually got an email from central office telling us to welcome a woman to the role of “Confidential Secretary to the Superintendent.”  But, I guess it’s no different that former superintendent James Williams needing to have a personal driver.

People desperate to make themselves appear busy or relevant spend money on the same programs and professional development that had been discarded years before and brought back with a new name, but very few actual changes or improvements.

Teachers are trapped between tyrannical principals who rarely leave the sanctity of their inner offices and supervisors so out of touch with school buildings and the teachers and students within that any small complaint is viewed as a lack of ability on the part of the teacher.  Further, the teachers union – the constant whipping boy of all who are looking for another scapegoat for student failure – is so utterly impotent that it’s a miracle that we even got a new contract.  And those tyrannical principals ruling from on high?  The BTF can do nothing for the teachers who fall victims to their whims as, “They can write you up for whatever, but you always have the right to rebut.” Sure, it practically takes an act of congress to get rid of a teacher, but that does nothing for the mental and emotional strain that comes with being written up.

Teachers are human beings with feelings just as sensitive and maybe that last “fuck you” or “suck my dick” that they got from a 15 year-old child was just one more straw on a breaking back.  But maybe that “fuck you” was born of that child’s last straw.  Maybe reading about Bernard Madoff or being expected to know what mitochondria are is really just too much for their brains.

But nobody cares.  Nobody cares that our kids can’t read because you can’t go back to the little red school house and have 17 year olds in with 10 year olds, so instead of paying for outside tutoring, or another teacher in a classroom packed with 30 kids, we’d rather pay for a “confidential secretary”.  Nobody cares that our kids are bored because we convince ourselves that there is something more to be learned from ancient trade routes than there is about what may have brought about the events of 9-11.  Nobody cares that our kids are running roughshod over other people and their feelings because we’re too busy making excuses for their behaviors (single parent household, poverty, etc.) instead of teaching them that those behaviors are unacceptable regardless of race and privilege.  Nobody cares because in order to care, you might need to ask for help and input from those you so obviously consider beneath you.

While I would love to stand up publickly, please withhold my name. I am at the mercy of my principal, supervisor, supervisor’s supervisor….y’know how it is.  I may have lost faith in the system, but I love my job and my students and would kinda like me to hold on to it for a little while longer, at least

Nevertheless, thank you for hearing me out.

Name withheld by request