16 – Would You Answer This Ad?

02 May

Would you answer this ad?

NEW ORLEANS — Wanted: Idealistic teachers looking for a Peace Corps-style adventure in a city in distress.

I know…I know…It sounds good, but don’t believe the hype! “Adventure” is quite a stretch in the use of euphemism. My experience has been anything short of an “adventure.” When I think of the word “adventure,” I think of fun on the tangy side!

Besides…anything that is described as a “Peace Corps-style adventure”…yet takes place in America…sounds scary to me!

Norman Smith III, recruited to Rabouin High, said he wanted to make a difference in the lives of kids wary of authority and uncertain of their potential. It has been tough at times, he said.

Smith is right…and tough is understatement! Finding QUALIFIED teachers who are willing to commit to such conditions is close to impossible. The school where I teach employs recruits from Teach for America. One stipulation of TFA is that the candidate must commit to one school site for two years…and before being placed at the school site, TFA candidates are given a summer-long crash course in teaching.

When I first met the TFAers in orientation, I took one look at them and thought Oh…You’re going to be eaten alive! Ironically, it has been the veteran teachers who have had more problems than the TFAers…granted, the vets are equipped with the teaching experience…but the TFAers have the magic ingredient – IDEALISM!

The two TFAers I work with are phenomenal people who (I think) will take their experiences at this hell hole and (hopefully) make a larger mark on the world…but they won’t stay in the field of teaching. Idealism is plentiful when you know it has a shelf-life! I hope this place does not suck them as dry as it has sucked me.

Many of the schools inherited by the state were run down even before Katrina, plagued by leaky roofs, lead paint or poor heating systems. Many of the students are indifferent to learning or are far behind, with some freshmen unable to read and some teenagers disappearing for days. Some have been arrested for fighting with each other or beating up security guards. Some schools lack classroom supplies.

Save for the lead paint, the school mentioned in the above quote sounds like a shoe-in for where I work. From my perspective as a vet, there’s not enough IDEALISM in the world to convince me that this situation is acceptable…especially since I know that this school system has recently received largesse from a wealthy philanthropist (to the tune of $3 Billion)…no school in this school system should be without anything, and our security systems should be tip-top! I feel like I work in a third world country.

At Rabouin High, which has about 600 students, the halls echo with the shouts of teenagers who should be in class. Many have to share textbooks, if they have them at all. Doors lack knobs or, in the case of a girls’ bathroom, don’t close completely. Students have to pass through a metal detector to get inside, and guards patrol the halls.

You would almost have to see it with your own eyes to believe it, but YES! IT IS TRUE!!! If someone told me, a year ago, that a school like where I work exists, I would never believe them. This is real, folks! In fact, it is so real it makes me wonder why politicians don’t take more interest in the welfare of education, or why the N.A.A.C.P. doesn’t pick up this cause…a REAL cause (more to come on that topic)!


Posted by on May 2, 2008 in Work


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

7 responses to “16 – Would You Answer This Ad?

  1. The Red Pill

    May 3, 2008 at 6:26 am

    Reading your articles, it seems like there is failure at so many levels.

    Kids who don’t care largely because of parents who don’t care. Administrators more interested in preserving their own hides rather than doing what needs to be done. And local, state, and federal government that make a tough job tougher by not giving those in the trenches the proper tools to work with.

    In your opinion, Ms. Friendly, which one of those failures is the most impacting, which might be the easiest to address, and would fixing just any one of them be enough to make a big difference?

  2. Crouching Bride, Hidden Bridezilla

    May 4, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Perhaps the drug companies need to catch wind of the situation. It seems there is a pill or vaccine for everything. I propose a vaccine given to parents and children prior to starting school (a requirement before entering kindergarten), as well as preventative fearless leader vaccines for failing administration in addition to STAT valium injections, as needed, for teachers!

  3. msfriendly

    May 5, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Red Pill,

    Your question gave me much thought…there is no panacea for this one! All areas you mention…parents and government…play roles that are as equally important as the other. For instance, if you read my post that deal with student culture (or the new one, #17)…you will see how only parents can impact that. I can not infringe certain morals/values upon students.

    On the other hand, there are situations that call for government action…books, curriculum, student and teacher safety…which impacts the learning environment just as much as teen pregnancy.

    I hope I answered your question succinctly.

    Ms Friendly

  4. The Red Pill

    May 8, 2008 at 5:44 am

    Yes, thank you.

    Unfortunately, it was the very answer I suspected.

  5. Arekusu

    May 17, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    From Stuffwhitepeoplelike:

    Arekusu on May 17, 2008 at 7:24 am
    Wow, really intereting comments from the poster and Ms. Friendly.

    I worked as a student/teacher aide in Special Ed for six years.

    Bad education is a function of: a dysfunctional society where 1/2 of one percent of the population determine through the corporate parties that we’re going to produce subprime loans, whoppers, capri pants and hannah montana movies instead of mass transit and mass alternative energy projects. We have an irrational, undemocratic society and our educational system is a product of this society and helps to reproduce this society.

    Ms. Friendly, your posts and your experience is most interesting and instructive. However, stuff(middle-class)blackpeoplelike is not going to change the country or its educational system. The only way that can be accomplished is through a third (labor, black, even green) party that helps to overturn the screwed up relationships, tax policies, funding priorities, lack of public works, lack of productive jobs, lack of rational, democratic planning.

    Yeah, I know it sounds crazy: third parties will never win, just drink the Obama Kool Aid, etc etc. But, as Zizek says, politics is the art of the impossible. You do the impossible and create the conditions that make it possible. But, we’re a ways from there yet. America has been a big, mostly white stupid murderous petit bourgeois country for sixty years now. It’s going to take our ten year recession or peak oil or climate catastrophe or all of the above to smack our stupid populace in the head and make it think again. That is, if they don’t go crazy in an acute crisis and start killing one another. Ah, good times.

    Anyway, back to education: the 1/2 of one percent creates idiot/immature/demoralized/drugged out parents in the working class or ghetto or barrio areas of the cities. On the whole, without a greater systemic change, there’s not much that can be done to help the situation.

    At the same time, there’s the problem of asshole chairs of departments (history being a prime example) who enforce a teaching of non-history and teachers who are too petit/scared/have no ability to build solidarity/no life background to question the prevailing orthodoxy, who teach crap in the classrooms. I’m thinking of the humanities, here, english and history. 80% of the teachers I encountered at my suburban high school were snots with a very limited horizon and/or little heart. Most kids are going to tune out these kind of teachers or are just going to use school the way their parents and the system intends them to use it: as a method of social climbing or social maintenance.

    To the hardcore racists on the site: fuck off. My partisan uncle in Belarus and the Red Army dealt with you scum properly. When the crisis hits, don’t get out of line and make me teach you a lesson.

    P.S. Of course the ghetto, barrio is like the third world: see _Black Awakening in Capitalist America_ See also _Lockdown America_, _White Out_. The 1/2 of one percent of the population deciding to lock up the surplus labor as they mechanized production to increase profitability for the American ruling class. The best group to lock up was the third world colony of Black and Brown men. The whites would go along with that since it didn’t effect them, made them feel superior and had less impact on their job prospects.

  6. msfriendly

    May 17, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Arekusu…You said, “80% of the teachers I encountered at my suburban high school were snots with a very limited horizon and/or little heart. Most kids are going to tune out these kind of teachers or are just going to use school the way their parents and the system intends them to use it: as a method of social climbing or social maintenance.”

    …Which is why I left the suburban-esque school I taught in prior to Junkies-R-Us High School! There were things I wanted to try in my department (like moving away from teaching EVERY novel from the “literature” cannon) that were heavily frowned upon (I teach English BTW). Students, at my other school, were hardly ever bored in MY class…but my colleagues didn’t seem to appreciate my suggestions (and the kids were bored in their classes). I was regarded as a suspicious entity because I did not subscribe to the “Test or Die” mentality…I as trying to teach my students to think for themselves (which meant I also “allowed” them to read novels not included in the literary cannon).

    I will definitely take a look at the titles you have suggested…and I agree with you about the third party…but who will have the balls AND backing to follow through? The bigger picture is (and this is totally my opinion) that a group of people need to be formed who are not afraid to THINK FOR THEMSELVES!

    Thank you for visiting the site!

  7. Arekusu

    May 18, 2008 at 3:31 am

    Thanks for the reply, Ms. F.

    There are people more active in ed than I who could point out some schools and maybe people depending on where you are that could help with where do you apply next and how do you deal with the point-headed bureaucrats. See and call the number there- ask for a number for a teachers reform caucus rep.

    There is also a working class e-list with any number of educators on it, that are in situations similar to yours. I don’t know the address, but think if you google “working class list” you might be able to find it. Or, the folks at Labor Notes or MLA could probably help you find it.

    Re third parties and politics: check out Black Agenda Report, Black Commentator, and I also like the list at

    This year will not be a good one for national independent political action but as the slavocracy could not continue, we will have a third party in the not too distant future, and hopefully a revolution.

    Re your experience: there were a couple of teachers that I really liked- one thought the bureaucrats and teachers and students were crazy in their permissive attitudes and went back to IT. The other was fired for being too left even though she had excellent prep, firm discipline, good pedagogy. After she got canned, I jumped not long after that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: