Teachers, read this description based on the New York City public school system:
. . . although the teachers there receive their full salaries, the stale, spartan conditions and the absence of any physical or intellectual stimulation provide a ceaseless reminder that in some respects they are guilty until proved innocent. “There is a spirit of the K.G.B. about it,” Mr. Valtchev said in an interview on Monday. “Their main strategy is to destabilize the person, reduce his self-respect. It’s extremely oppressive. It’s regimented. It’s unhappy. There’s friendship and camaraderie among us in the room, but there’s a constant atmosphere of fear. And deep depression.”
If you are a classroom teacher, did you experience the same shock of recognition I did? Something like, “I don’t know who this Mr. Valtchev is, but he could be talking about my school, especially around mid-October!”
All jokes aside, this is not one disgruntled teacher’s skewed perception of his work environment. The above excerpt is from a shocking first-hand report about New York’s “reassignment centers,” windowless rooms around the city where teachers are literally detained — some for more than 180 days — pending disciplinary hearings. It was written by Columbia University professor and journalist Samuel G. Freedman, and he’s no slouch.
Now, go read the entire column, and then, well, I don’t know what you should do. Channel your rage into a therapeutic blog post? Hug your union rep? Or, just take a second to reflect on your own school climate? I dunno.
I’m feeling a little like the Rev. Martin Niemoller, myself.
Thanks to Gary Stager for pointing to Freedman’s amazing account, which appeared in the Oct. 10 edition of the Times. Every once in a while Mr. Stager has a doozy of a post that keeps me subscribing to his blog. I welcome his frequent jolts of wicked cynicism. They balance out my mostly golly-gee-wilikers sense of awe, especially in regard to instructional technology of late.
Graphic: Corridor in the Asylum by Vincent van Gogh (1889; Black chalk and gouache on pink Ingres paper), from WikiMedia Commons