Clarion Review

EDUCATION

The Other Side of Teaching

Evelyn Uddin-Khan

978-1-4990-7794-0

 This is a deep, stinging indictment of the education system from a teacher’s point of view.law-books-4

 The Other Side of Teaching, by Evelyn Uddin-Khan, is an emotional look at the trenches of education from a veteran teacher.

Uddin-Khan has a doctorate in comparative and international education, lending her book a broad perspective and deep insight, but the heart of her understanding is intensely personal.

The book examines teaching conditions, internal and external politics, and the shifting balance of power in education. The first two parts of the book share stories from her teaching experience. The third part discusses policy desksproblems specifically, but her experience is critical to her insights. The fourth part gives the author’s view of the positives of the teaching profession, such as the students themselves and friendships with other teachers.

It’s clear through her sincerity and intensity that Uddin-Khan loves teaching and students. But the depth of her love makes her hurt deeper. After years of service, being essentially demoted made her feel like a commodity to the school system—a system that she already felt didn’t give teachers their due respect. Her pain and anger are quite smudge-chalk-girlsunderstandable, but at times they overshadow the ideas she wants to present.

Her discussion of policy and problems with the system is best suited for those who have a relatively good grasp of the education system: She begins, “It is obvious that education policy in its present form is excluding the majority of poor and middle-income children from receiving the education they deserve.” For some teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, Uddin-Khan’s ire will fuel desire for change.mind

But those unfamiliar with the day-to-day realities of the teaching profession will find her experience eye-opening and even shocking (such as how verbal and physical abuse from students goes unaddressed by administration and parents), prompting the question, “It can’t possibly be that bad, right?”—a question that Uddin-Khan hopes will encourage people to take a deeper look at education.

school busThe cover and back panel copy don’t fully show how personal and emotional the book is. They set a more academic expectation that may make Uddin-Khan’s earnest and sometimes angry voice jarring. The Other Side of Teaching is an inside look at the education system through one teacher’s tell-all point of view.

Melissa Wuske

 

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The Other Side of Teaching

Evelyn Uddin-Khan

Xlibris, 424 pages, (paperback) $23.99, 9781499077940

(Reviewed: April 2015)

Not long ago, teachers commanded respect from students, parents and society in general. stick-boy-and-girlToday, though, they are often punching bags for those same groups, blamed for America’s failing education system.

Evelyn Uddin-Khan knows that system and says the fault lies not with the classroom educators, but with those who are pointing fingers.

schoolroomUddin-Khan, who has a doctoral degree in comparative and international education, spent more than 20 years teaching in New York’s public school system. For 18 years, she writes, she was a well-respected and dedicated professional. But then her job changed; she was “excessed” — education-speak for being reassigned. No longer needed as an ESL teacher, Uddin-Khan was made a substitute teacher. Her three years in that position is the basis for The Other Side of Teaching.

For most of her book, Uddin-Khan details the chaos that she suffered through daily. Violent, disobedient and indifferent students and unresponsive and disconnected parents were just part of the problem.mind Worse, in her view, were school administrators and politicians, whose decisions were most often motivated by expediency or greed. She claims that administrators ordered grades inflated and problem students promoted or graduated, all in an effort to bring up schools’ test scores.

No Child Left Behind legislation, she maintains, merely moves these poorly-educated students to the next level, making them somebody else’s problem.

booksTo her credit, Uddin-Khan does offer some specific remedies, from getting cops out of the classrooms to separating politics from education to investing money in schools.

Overall, this is a narrative that will certainly give readers a different view of education.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

For people who have never taught a classclassroom in any school, especially public schools, it is easy for them to become classroom and education critics.

It is easy for politicians to be on the outside, look in and critique teachers.

For administrators who crawl through graduate school, somehow secure AP and principal licenses’, spend a year or two in the classroom and then move to the principal’s office, it is easy for them to flex the power in their tongue muscles instead of their brain mindmuscles.

There were two failed businessmen in a certain high school who managed to get that principal’s license and thanks to well placed godfathers stepped into the principal’s office in record time.literature

One made no secret that he was there for the pension and the health benefits.

The politicians are in la-la land. Politicians need no education to become elected officials and yet they become experts on education policy and teacher evaluation.

Administrators, in most cases, supervise teachers with more education and experience than they have and yet must show their power by harassing and berating teachers at every opportunity.stick-boy-and-girl

Yes, there are “bad” teachers, perhaps one in a hundred. There are also bad doctors; lawyers who are swindlers and most politicians are synonymous with crime, lobbying and get-rich-quick deals. Compared to these people one bad teacher is excusable.

It is time for the media and the politicians Breaktimeto give teachers a break and concentrate on improving the education system. We are not hurting teachers. They all have masters and higher degrees and can and will survive. The day is coming when we will wish these teachers were back in the classroom.

flagWe are denying our children their birth-right, jeopardizing the future of this country, and hastening the demise of our #1 status in the world.

Without an educated population this country has no future.

There are many reasons why the proposed methodsschool bus of teacher evaluation won’t work. Here are a few.

  1. Teacher evaluation is subjective. If the administrators in a school like a teacher then that teacher is an effective / highly effective teacher. If they hate your guts your fail the test. That simple!
  2. If administrators want to get rid ofwords older / experienced / expensive teachers and bring in young / cheap / newly qualified teachers, that is a reason for failure. Cheap labour is the key word here. (No offence is meant to inexperienced teachers.)
  3. Test, test, test! Very little teaching, but lots of testing. One teacher documented 65 testing and out-of-classroomschool closed days out of 180 teaching days.* Just think of it! That is 35% of 180 days spent testing and wasting student-teacher time.
  4. Grade fixing! The first time I was asked to “fix a student’s grade” was in 1992. The coach wanted this failing kid on the baseball team. I refused! Someone did change his grade because he did play on the team. Between 1999 and 2011 I was constantly in the administrators’ offices for my students’ low grades on English tests. They minddid not care that my students could not write a grammatically correct sentence in English. What they cared about was that the school should look good and continue as an “A” school. Do you know how many illiterate students in my classes received grades of 85 or 90? What I was doing was sinful, so I retired.

The point is – not teachers – but administrators and politicians do not care about educating our children. smudge-chalk-girlsAs long as they are passing with high grades that is all that matters. Teacher evaluation is allowing politicians to hide behind the problem.

An American college graduate (4 years) has the same education (knowledge?) as a high school graduate in Japan or Finland. Check the facts! What’s wrong with this picture? sZVNBOmc

So Mr. Governor, your present proposal is a waste of time and it is the students who are paying the price. For the world super-power we have the most ignorant high school graduates.

Unless you begin to do something about it they will continue to be ignorant graduates!

*The Other Side of Teaching

 

 

“No poor, rural, weak, or black flagperson should ever again have to bear the additional burden of being deprived of the opportunity for an education, a job, or simple justice.”                                    President Carter    

 

The year was 2009. The school was (is still) in Queens. The student body was 98% black kids.literature “This school could have been anywhere in the segregated south of the USA in the year 1954* or better still in Nigeria.”**

Mr. Governor, have you heard of Missionary schools in Africa? The white missionaries devoting their lives to enlightening, educating, emancipating the African kids of years ago?

Well, Mr. Governor, we have one right here in NYC / NYS. Some one collected approximately 3,000 black teenagers and put them classroomin this building and the missionaries are bending backwards to educate them.

Talk about racism and segregation! This is the real deal. All over this country politicians are condemning segregation, racism, hate, prejudice, discrimination; the church and civic leaders are marching their souls and soles out against these “WORDS” and trying to find equality and integration. Nothing changes!

Well, look no further. Why don’t you integrate some white kids into this black school? How about a charter school for these black kids? Mr. Governor, you have a lot of work to do. “Why in the heart of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic New York City is a school filled with all black kids?”** [I wrote to many people about this segregated school including the congressman, but no one replied.]mathematics

These kids are rotting away in this school (gang land, drug den) and no one seems to care.

“They need to get into the competition if they want to win the game.”**

Mr. Governor, I have the solution, you have the power to do the work. Start educating these kids and stop building private prisons for them.

Malcolm X said, “If you’re born in America with a black skin, you’re born in prison.”

Prove him wrong, Mr. Governor!  DSCN7910      

*Earl Warren: To separate [black children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone…. We consider that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 {1954}

**Quotes taken from The Other Side of Teaching

 

 

At the high school where I practiced teaching, Success Starts Herewe had a group of students (perhaps 200) whose collective name was the Renaissance Kids.

These students were 18 – 21 years old and included mothers, fathers, parolees, abusers, drug addicts and dealers, gang members, and LTAs (Long Term Absentees). An LTA showed up about 45 out of 180 days per school year.the journey

The school administrators had no clues what to do with them. Parents – if they had any – gave up. Law enforcement wished they would disappear. Welfare and child-care paid their bills / took care of them.

sZVNBOmcSome of them lived in foster homes, group homes, or no homes. The only meals some of them ate were breakfast and lunch when they came to school. In winter their attendance improved because inside the school building was warm.

They very rarely brought books and pens to school. We always kept extra note paper and pens handy.

When your AP hates your guts she puts you in a classroom with 34 of these life threatening kids.

Needless to say, very little teaching took place. Teachers assigned to the Renaissance Classes spent their time trying to break up fights, stop arguments, calling for help, praying the period would end, and they can walk out with life and limb.schoolroom

These troubled young people, if they were not fighting or arguing, then they were making phone calls, texting, showing baby pictures or cursing the teacher. They did no work. In fact, most of them could not read. Many said they can count money therefore they don’t need to learn math.

Administrators’ advice: “Do not argue with them or insist that they do work. They can turn violent in the blink of an eye. Just give them a 65. Let them go! They look good! We look even better.”*

flagThese men and women fell through the crack in the NYS Education System.

They graduated high school at age 20-21, went out into the world with no education, no life skills, and no future. But we have private prisons waiting for them.

No teacher can give these young people what they need. They need homes with love and stability. They need rehabilitation, counseling, job training. DSC03525-B

Repeat – they fell through the crack. This is American education. This is one New York City school. This is how we prepare our kids for your private prisons.

Wake up Mr. Governor. balloon-boyHow about a charter school for the Renaissance Kids?

You are failing our children – not the teachers!

 

*Quote taken from The Other Side of Teaching

 

Hi Gov!

Have you sat in a teachers’ work room recently? (Some schools still have one.) How about the DSC03525-Bteachers’ cafeteria? The rumors are flying east, west, north and south. Is it true that Pearson (among others) bought your soul? Your conscience? Your love of poor kids?

We now know who bought you your second term!

You certainly have been beating up on teachers since your re-election. Why? Teachers and their union solidly supported you. Of course, teachers can’t match the Pearson ton of gold, or 2 million from Hedge Funds, or one million from Glenwood. How many votes did you get from these one percenters?

stick-boy-and-girlTeachers, those sorry under-paid, over-worked slobs who you are chocking to death, were worth four or five hundred thousand votes all over New York State. A pity you don’t need their votes again.

You played – like all dirty politicians – the game very well. Here are some facts for you:

  1. The United States – the world super power – has one of the lowest standards of education in the world – thanks to ego-maniac politicians like you.
  2. booksWhen you make teacher tenure/effectiveness contingent upon the number of passing students, you end up with grade-fixing. Principals and APs do not want their schools to “look bad” so they help their teachers to fix the grades. I know. Been there, done that!
  3. The students are the forgotten people. Stop the money, kick the teachers desksaround, and who is really concerned about the welfare of the kids, their education, their future? Teachers are their best hope!
  4. Hey Gov! Doesn’t it bother you that charter schools actively select the students they accept in their ivory towers? They must have a GPA of 80%? 2013-01-28_09-16-34_256What is the fate of the special needs kids? Immigrant kids? Minority Kids?
  5. You kill public education Mr. Gov. and you kill America – land of opportunity. (To be continued.)

Your present attitude to teachers and your policies in education are shocking, but inconsequential to teachers because the people you are hurting are the children in our public schools – they are our future.

Your second term is showing your true colours. Happy to report I did not vote for you!

 

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