Letter From The Schools (Never Sent)

Dear Administrator,

It just doesn't work.

Eighteen troubled students are enrolled in my Tuesday-Thursday 10 AM class. They range from seventh to twelfth grade and need individual attention I can't deliver because they aren't just any kids. They've been asked to leave their home schools due to problem behavior and other difficulties. They have been sent to a program advertised as six-to-one on its website. Such a program might help these kids but doesn't exist at our school. The program that does exist just doesn't work.

Two years ago, a new program was created and placed at our small school. It occupies two of the four sections available for the program I've described above. Kids once spread across four classes are now stuffed into two. What would have been two classes of nine students each — which is still too many given the kids with whom we work — is now one class of eighteen kids and a free-for-all. We don't stand a fighting chance, the staff or the kids, unless the program overhauled. I'm not holding my breath.

Truth to tell, none of this matters much to me. I've got fewer than ten days of classes, then I'm done, so I finally feel almost safe offering this critique without fear of reprisal. I haven't felt safe despite tenure and that culture of fear does the organization no favors. It hides the truth and stymies positive growth. Last school year I offered some criticism and was told that I wasn't being a team player, that my opinions weren't welcome, and that disciplinary action would result if I persisted. I shut up but the problems metastasized and have continued to get worse. I am sure that next year will be more difficult for teachers and less effective for students. That's a lot of why I'm leaving just four years shy of retirement.

I could be wrong. Class size may be reduced. Teachers may receive more support. Additional staff may be put in place. Supervisors may no longer be shared across too many programs. Upper management may welcome opinions, ideas, and criticism. Staff may no longer be forced out after one or two years. The dark cloud of dread, anxiety, and cynicism may lift.

I hope so, but again, I'm not holding my breath. No, I'm getting out.