Public Education 2013-Style

TeacherI am a public school teacher, and a damn good one, too!  Welcome to my world.  I have taught a variety of subjects the past 11 years, focusing on children with behavior problems at the High School level.  I have taught all subjects, including Middle School World Cultures, American History, Geography, and Intensive Reading.

Constantly I am swamped with work, which I do on my own time because there is not enough time within the school day to get it all done.  Yes, I chose to do this, but it is very exasperating to read of how teachers are all clumped into the same group and labeled as overpaid, oversexed, lazy nincompoops, who should get a “real” job.  To earn extra money, l have worked extra hours tutoring students and I have put in 10 – 12 hour days, and that is before I have graded papers and prepared for the next day.

One of the rewards is when former students tell me how much they loved my class.  Or when I’m told that after being in my Intensive Reading class they never needed a reading class again.  I still have notes from kids who tell me they appreciate my effort in the classroom to teach good and appropriate behavior along with self-respect.  One particular student told me I was like a mother to her.   That’s why most people want to teach, because it helps to change lives.

Not all teachers make right decisions, but it takes teachers and parents working together to make a difference.  Some parents will ask why their child didn’t get an “A” on an assignment, and want to argue why the child deserves it regardless. This type of thing gets very frustrating.

Other oddities and obstacles teachers (like myself) deal with on a daily basis in 2013:

…Being told, “My child is 12, they’re grown so what do you want me to do?”

…Girls and boys sneaking out of class into the restroom and attempting to have sex.

…A tardy child who is frequently late or misses first period and the parent uses the excuse that they “have other children” so they “can’t get up on time”.

…A parent asking for their child to redo an expository writing assignment because he “didn’t understand”–despite knowing the child understood the instructions because said child kept repeating, “But I’m good at writing fiction!”

…A parent blaming the teacher because their child failed the class when their child did not complete the assignments, disrupted class and the list goes on.

…Female students writing notes discussing the size of a male student’s private anatomy.

Currently I teach varying exception children in a Middle School. “Varying exceptionalities” is actually a variety of conditions; some students have Down’s syndrome, some are autistic, some are intellectually disabled, and some are unknown but are not functioning at the same level as the majority of the population.   Some students are just a couple of points below the general education population on IQ tests and for all practical purposes are like “everyone else”.

A few of the situations I’ve had to deal with include everything from students picking up chairs and threatening to throw them to kids balling up their fists threatening to punch people.

I’ve also experienced several “room clears”, when a child is having a meltdown to the point that we have to clear the room for the safety of all concerned.  This has happened when a child has refused to work and tells us, “You can’t make me”.  Or a child (of the male persuasion) who has decided it’s okay to attempt masturbation in the classroom through his clothes.  Or a child who has threatened to shoot another student over some minor issue, with the parents commenting that their child “doesn’t know the difference between today, tomorrow, or yesterday”…

Then there is the boy who informed us that his is going to kiss a particular girl and she’s not going to say “no”, after having called her over 50 times in one evening.

The teachers that I know work hard, putting in long hours and striving to ensure the success of all their students, teaching them appropriate and acceptable behavior.  Each incident of inappropriate behavior is addressed and parents are always informed.

Unfortunately, more often than not, stories in the news tend to make teachers out to be the “bad” guys.  Recently two incidents were in the news pertaining to teachers and the decisions that school officials make.

One article was about a high school teacher who wrote on the board: “A) You are idiots!!!!!!!! B) The guns are loaded!!! C) Care to try me?????????”

Apparently the kids gave a substitute teacher a difficult time and the teacher was a little outraged when he came back the next day.  Were his comments over the top?  It is not something I would write on the board, yet many understood he was jesting and irate.  Students these days are not the Leave it to Beaver type, especially toward a substitute teacher. Writing those comments on the board was over the top, in my opinion, but what about students who use vile vulgar language at school and nothing can be done as the parents use the same verbiage at home?

The next fiasco is about the GI Joe cake toppers.  A mother brought her son birthday cupcakes for school and decided to add GI Joe to the top of the cakes as a decoration. The school officials decided it was too much violence for the classroom in light of the Sandy Hook shooting.  The parents were outraged when they were asked by school officials to pick up the cupcakes instead of distributing them to the students.  The officials were trying to prevent any potential problems with their decision, and I personally would have wagered that if the school administration had allowed children to take the GI Joe cupcakes home, someone would have complained about bringing violence into the school.

I am not condoning or condemning either of the decisions in these two incidents, just stating the facts.  Teachers, like every other profession, have good and bad individuals who make the overall decisions.

The main question I want to ask is when are parents going to rise up and be responsible and involved in their child’s education?   Volunteer at the school and you will get a far more realistic idea of what takes place in the schools in 2013.

Oops, silly me, again–it’s the teachers fault.


Barbara Cook

Barbara J. Cook (Cookie) is enjoying living in the panhandle of Florida educating special needs children in a middle school (ask her about it sometime!). In order to de-stress, Barbara runs, reads, and writes, and yes, she cooks too: (that's another reason she runs!) She lives with her Mr. Cookie and chickens, dogs, cats and various others. Growing up in Europe as a child and spending several years as a military wife, Cookie learned to appreciate and respect diversity in people choosing to live by the phrase, agree to disagree. What is important to Cookie is family, faith, and fun. Cookie is involved in PolitiChicks because she says 'if we don't, who will?' Visit her website at: and

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