Monday, February 26, 2007


"My Boys Can Swim!" What TV Show?

Seriously, that's some supersperm right there.


Sunday, February 18, 2007


The Escape Pods Have Been Jettisoned

I may have heard a rumble or two. I may have even made a rumble or two myself. Then you hear things like get out while you still can because this place is doomed to self-destruct. Then I hear that, thanks to the blunderings of the administration, one person is leaving. The next day I hear that on the same night that this discussion took place in one family, it had also taken place in another family. The discussion starts something like this: "I can't take these people anymore. What would you think if I quit and got some other job, possibly not even in education?" On the day after that, I hear that this conversation took place in a third family as well.

Of course that's all well and good, but there are clusters of these things that happen from time to time. I would also be the first to admit that three people is not the same as losing ten, fifteen, maybe even twenty-five percent of our staff each of the last few years. We have about a hundred people on staff. Over the last five years, I would feel very safe saying that we have had no less than fifteen new teachers each year. Which is another way of saying that in each of the last five years, at least fifteen people have said, "No thanks. This place just isn't worth it." I don't think that number has gone over thirty in any of those years, but getting twenty-five new teachers once of twice in that time wouldn't surprise me.

You might note that this sort of attrition comes close to one hundred percent of our staff being replaced. It does come close to one hundred people; it might even be more than one hundred, but many of those are people who were hired to replace retirees and only lasted for a year or two before leaving themselves. So who are these people that are leaving?

When I joined this school ten years ago, my department had twenty, maybe twenty-two people in it. I was the youngest person by about fifteen years. We had a fairly stratified older age cohort, and I was among the oldest of the young cohort. I would suggest that of the hundred or so who have left, maybe fifty have retired. That leaves another fifty who left for some other reason. Take my word for it, they didn't win the lottery.

So now we're back to our three people. Maybe it's more personal to me because I know these people. Maybe that makes it stand out more sharply in my mind. They're in my circle. The other day, I ran into someone who isn't in my circle. He's more on the administrative side of things, a sort of side branch. He tells me that the administration, main branch, may end up surprised by the attrition that will be happening this year.

Now this guy knows as well as I do what our attrition rate has been like these past few years, and he's saying this year is going to somehow be shocking? Look, it was a passing conversation, so I'll try to get more details the next time I see him, in a couple of weeks. Here's another nugget he reminded me of that may bump that three to four. We had a teacher leave at the semester. Reason given: lack of support from the administration. Here we have a person who is so disgusted with this place, it's not even worth it to stick it out for the rest of the year.

Please keep in mind that this isn't like quitting an office job. If the district wants to be a-holish about it, they can yank your credential for abandoning your post. Then you can't get another teaching job anywhere that requires credentials. Or they can accept your resignation and not raise a fuss. Maybe I can find out how they handled it.

It seems like this year may be a turning point in the school, that sort of sudden moment in chaos theory where the gradual change makes a sharp jump that seems to come from nowhere. Or something like that. I'll have to read Jurassic Park again to be sure. When you've put ten years in, and you're one of the most senior people in an organization, that doesn't speak too well about how that organization operates.

Watching Clerks II last night, I was reminded that I'm a lot like Dante. I can eat a whole bunch of crap sandwiches and still manage to endure a miserable situation. Having said that, even I'm getting close to going Randall and wranglin' on out the door.

Wine and Roses

If your bookmarks are too disjointed to guarantee finding something, stick it here. We'll see how it goes. If you're lucky, you might even see me there sometime.


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