Wednesday, January 1, 2014

We are faced with being unemployed, not because we are sub-standard teachers, but because we are scapegoats ... by Susan Barao

There is something I feel everyone in New Bedford needs to know and think about. I am a teacher at New Bedford High School. My friends and I who work there are faced with a 50/50 chance of being unemployed as of June, not because we are sub standard teachers, but because we are scapegoats. 

What I want everyone in New Bedford to know is that I do not know of one teacher who has given up on their students or compromised their work ethic. I met with a group of teachers over vacation, of course we commiserated over our current situation, but the conversation quickly turned to helping individual students, discussing different classroom strategies we use that have been effective, and how to keep students focused on their academics when they come to the classroom with questions about the current situation without brushing aside their concerns about losing their teachers, for some the only stability in their lives. 

We had some really great discussions. There was no talk of doing the bare minimum to get by until another job can be found, there was no talk of using up the sick days we have accumulated because we have lost hope, the only career related talk was about how we could help OUR students at NBHS, because we do feel that those children are our responsibility, and as such, even though we are being treated badly we all feel the need to protect and help our students.

 I ask you to consider this. Would you act the same way? If you work, and your company announced that they were going to randomly fire 50% of it's staff without justification and you, as a loyal employee, who has no control whatsoever as to whether or not you are one of the 50% being fired, had saved up sick days, would you use them? Would you give 100% even though the discussion around your dinner table at home is foreclosure laws and how you are going to break it to your child that although they are doing everything correctly you are going to have to stop their extracurricular activities due to job loss? 

Make no mistake, teacher's who have given everything to their profession, are watching their lives and the lives of their families being ruined financially and psychologically. Teaching is my second career and I can tell you first hand that if faced with the same situation, people in other professions would not be conducting business as usual because they would be more worried about themselves than their company (in our case school dept) or product (in our case students). So I'd like you to think about what you'd do in a similar situation, compare it to how the teachers are acting and realize this, NBHS has a large group of professionals who are dedicated to their students, they want logical change, are changing their strategies daily to adjust to student needs, pay for additional training and courses and will be there every day, 100% for the children of New Bedford, putting their own worries aside until after school hours just to make sure the children at NBHS are educated, nurtured, listened to, coached, fed, clothed and all the other contributions teachers make to their students that are too numerous to mention here. 

Would you do the same if your company was treating you in a similar way? 


Anonymous said...

I say this so often to friends of mine who work in the private sector and they get it. Many of them are former NBHS students and are outraged at Durkin's actions. They ask me, "Why are they blaming the teachers?" You just answered that question. We are scapegoats!

Anonymous said...

That is who the teachers in NBPS are all about! It is always about the kids......God Bless all of you at NBHS!!!

Anonymous said...

awesome article Sue, very eloquently put. Precise and to the point. It is because of teachers like you that we HAVE some of the very best students. You and your colleagues inspire them and nurture them. The system is doing these kids a disservice by "firing" the professionals, Let them place the blame where it belongs, at the Top, the administration.

Have supported and will continue to support you all my friends.

May this New Year bring us all some peace and comfort, and above all, our jobs.
Peace and God Bless

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sue; you have, as usual, gotten to the heart of the matter and articulated the issue with clarity. I feel blessed to work with teachers of your caliber.

Anonymous said...

I don't think we need a "pat on the back". We need the real problems addressed! That is, discipline and a stop to social promotion, period! Kids should be able to add before you send them to the high school! (not a knock on middle school teachers, I understand where the push comes from)

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget but this is not just about NBHS but all grades and teachers that are being bullied and mistreated.

Anonymous said...

While reading an article about the city of Detroit, the elephant had a disturbing thought.

It's not unusual for the board of directors of a corporation to hire a hatchet man who has no preexisting relationships with any of the employees to swoop in, fire large numbers of people and sell off or shut down whole divisions in order to prevent the business from failing completely.

Has anyone investigated the possibility that the city of New Bedford may be close to going bankrupt?

Anonymous said...

What an inspiring letter - each day when I read this blog I ride an emotional roller coaster. This has to be one of the saddest times in the history of New Bedford. No one seems to care about the teachers who are going to join the ranks of the un-employed, who will find it nearly impossible to find a job in another school system or in the private sector, who face financial ruin and lost their health insurance. It is also true that, after all is said and done, the students will end up suffering as much as the teachers. It is inconceivable to me that a "new" crop of teachers is going to be able to teach, discipline, and improve NBHS to its former glory days.

Anonymous said...

Just a clarification...100% of us are fired. UP TO 50% may be hired back. All they have to do is hire one of us and the criteria is met. Dont get lost in semantics.