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.

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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.

Here is a “crisis” in education that gets very IMG_1234little media or administrative attention because teachers are non-entities who provide fodder for the teacher bashing tongues.

Teachers are abused by politicians, administrators, parents and students among others. During the day, school buildings are like day-jails for teachers. BreaktimeThey arrive in the morning and any administrator, parent or student can dish out the torment.

Politicians first: On the way to work, any teacher brave enough to listen to the news or read the newspapers will find the governor evaluating them and other elected officials berating , chastising them for the low standard of American education. Every ill, every wrong in education is the teachers’ fault. These half-wit, ignorant politicians who can’t teach a class to save their lives, who presume to write failing education policies and develop unrealistic standards with Pearson’s help turn around and blame teachers. Go get a life politicians and let teachers write policy and develop standards.

desksAdministrators abuse teachers. When they like teachers, those teachers can do no wrong. Tenure is assured; they become master teachers, highly effective ratings, and funds to match their superlative skills. When administrators hate teachers, God help them and tenure is their paycheck. Grade fixing – highly prevalent in schools – is also abuse. When teachers refuse to pass 95% of students with grades in the 85-99 percentiles, they are bad teachers.

mindParents want their kids to pass with high grades, but take no responsibility for their attendance, homework, or sleeping in class. However, they have no problems showing up in school, insulting the teacher and blaming her for the child’s failure. A brief meeting between the parent and the AP would result in a passing / higher grade for ignorant little Andy.

sZVNBOmcStudents abuse teachers daily. They steal teachers’ stuff. They mock and curse teachers. They cheat on tests. Students have “deans” in schools to protect them and parents at home to defend them. They are taught at an early age not to take responsibility for their education and by extension their future. They learn the blame game early in life.

Teacher abuse is real. It is in the governor’s office; it is in every politician’s office; school administrators have given teacher abuse an art form; and parents and students know how to play the grade fixing games.balloon-boy

Who can remember a favorite governor, or a favorite doctor, or a favorite police officer, or a favorite school administrator? But almost everyone can remember a favorite teacher!

 

 

Teachers – older and experienced – wholiterature graduated in the 60s, 70s and perhaps the 80s, had the knowledge and ability to have a conversation and discuss history, science, literature, philosophy and almost any academic subject, plus world affairs and politics.

They can also walk into a classroom and teach and dispense that knowledge as easily as they can discuss it.mathematics In the teachers’ room, in the teachers’ cafeteria, it is a joy to “run into” one of these educated teachers and have an enjoyable, informative forty minutes of enlightenment.

Teachers – young and ambitious, inexperienced and poorly educated – who graduated in the 90s and after and who are now returning as teachers do not have that solid academic foundation that used to be the norm for high school and college graduates.

Most high school graduates in the past twenty-five years have “suffered” through a watered down deskscurriculum, know very little about literature, science, history, can hardly write a paper or do math and certainly know very little about world affairs.

These ignorant high school and college graduates are now returning as high school teachers. They also want to be administrators and quickly get an AP license.

To prepare lessons, they quickly download what ever they can find on the internet.

helpConversation with three young teachers revealed the following: (1) One teacher had a student in her class from Kosovo. She did not know where Kosovo was. (2) One second year English teacher had to teach Hamlet, but complained that she had no idea what to do with poor Hamlet. (3) One teacher was told to teach a book, but did not know which book to choose because she had not read any of the books on the list.

One last thing: We are importing teachers. Can you imagine booksimporting a Spanish teacher? The administrators liked him so much he made AP within five years.

Between teacher evaluation, cheap labour, and teachers who are unqualified (lack of knowledge in the subject area) education in New York and the US as a whole will get much worse.

These are tales from the school building recorded by an experienced teacher.

 

 

 

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

 

 

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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