The loss of people in my life.
In these instances, the loss is of their choice, but the reasons are probably somewhat related.
The loss is people at work. In our English/Language Arts department we are losing three, very possibly four people (if not more) out of eleven teachers. Each has a different reason for wanting to move on, but there is a commonality between all the reasons: each teacher is not happy with the workings of our department, and to a larger extent, our school.
Perhaps it has to do with the recent intruder we had on campus. None of the staff was notified of the intruder, however one of our two security people noticed that the man didn’t have a “visitor” pass stuck on his shirt, so suspicion began to build. To our security personnel’s credit, the intruder was eventually recognized and escorted from campus. Security felt concerned enough to call in the person’s license plate as the intruder left and the intruder was later picked up down the freeway and was identified as a registered sex offender from a neighboring state.
We were told in an email the next day that we should be aware of what transpired so that we could “head off” any rumors that might be “floating around.” The day after that we were told how our school was exemplary in handling the intruder and that the local newspaper was unfair in its reporting of the incidence.
Maybe the end for some teachers came when a car thief ran through our school’s parking lot, then bailed from the stolen car and ran down to the river very near our school. Again, we received an email a few hours later informing us that, regardless of whatever rumors we might hear, the school’s administration had been monitoring the event and the ‘car thief’ was ‘somewhere along the river’ between law enforcement, our school security person, and the school grounds. We were told that if the situation had escalated from that point somehow, we would have been told to go into a ‘lockdown’ status. Apparently, students and/or staff weren’t directly threatened, so a lockdown wasn’t warranted.
I think the various teachers’ decisions were probably already made when, this morning, I arrived at school with one of the major entranceways blockaded by police and fire department because a car had run through the parking lot, crashed through a school fence, and was disabled before it could connect with the freeway onramp. This was just a minor blip on our school’s danger radar. It will warrant a ‘barely mention’ in our local paper, if it’s reported at all.
In regards to public education, appearance is everything.
Let me repeat that: In regards to public education, appearance is EVERYTHING.
Or perhaps our loss of educators stems from the frustration that comes from a false sense of involvement. There are numerous times when we, as teachers or as a department, are asked for our input in regards to various issues and decisions pertaining to those issues. More often than not, our participation is illusory. The decision has already been made. Truth be told, there was an issue this last year where, as individual teachers and departments, our input was called for while administration readily admitted that our input really wouldn’t ‘factor into’ any decisions. What baffled me more was that members of our department still insisted on discussing and debating various aspects of the issue, even though it had been specifically stated that our input was irrelevant.
Recently, we had a department meeting where individual input was asked for when we hadn’t been given adequate information to even make a decision. When members of the department didn’t readily speak up, administration both demonstrated and vocalized their frustration.
And so now, probably a third of our department is moving on. These are good people and good teachers. The irony is that in most private businesses, this degree of turnover would be viewed as at least a hint of bigger problems or issues.
Not in public education. To admit to a more systemic problem would be bad publicity. Parents might question school district operations or decisions. Students might not be able to maintain the illusion of safety. The general public might make a justified call for change and improvement.
We can’t have that.
Remember: the first rule of public education is not to question public education.