Politicians have no clue about classrooms

By Wendel Sloan

Local columnist

In January, “Frustrated,” a fifth-year teacher in a lower socio-economic school, was transferred from fourth to first grade because a veteran teacher had had enough and quit to become a bank teller.

Her 16 boys and seven girls included four Anglos, 10 Hispanics and nine African-Americans. Three lived with both biological parents. About a third took behavior medication.

Ninety-five percent in her school receive free breakfasts and lunches, and many get summer food-care packages.

Wendel Sloan

Wendel Sloan

“Many of their parents had them as teenagers and never learned parenting skills,” said Frustrated (who requested anonymity). “When I assign homework, parents are not capable of helping them.”

One mom had five kids in school by five men. Most students have no daily fathers.

“Parents send their kids to school when they are sick or off their medication so they do not have to deal with them,” said Frustrated. “We are more a daycare than a learning center.”

To get his attention, she tapped one non-English speaking student on the hand, and was suspended while the school investigated his claims she beat him. Another student accused her of pushing him out of his chair she tried to move after he refused to sit. He later admitted to the assistant principal making it up.

She stopped hugging students, even though it was the only affection some of them received.

Kids threw objects at each other — sometimes at her — and she had to break up multiple fights almost daily. “Two-thirds of the students wanted to learn, but the others disrupted the entire class,” said Frustrated.

The administration discouraged referrals to the principal’s office because the stats would make them look bad with the central office.

Frustrated said politicians who criticize teachers, and designers of for-profit standardized tests, often come from higher socio-economic backgrounds and have never taught. “They have no idea what it’s like in the classroom.”

Owing more in student loans than her yearly salary, Frustrated lamented, “Teaching used to be fun.”

Contact Wendel Sloan at:
wendel.sloan@enmu.edu