She Won't Cooperate

or I Want to Be the Girl With the Most Cake

Renee Smith

Renee Smith
Wilmington, North Carolina,
July 20
Your Highness
Single mom of 2 grown daughters, writer; lover of sushi, memoirs, David Sedaris, Green Day, Aimee Mann, Bill Hicks, and Stephen Colbert. A lifelong native of Houston, I made a cross country move to Hollywood East beginning Act 2 of my life.I am currently at work on a screenplay and two books of essays. I have written a number of produced plays. I'm a Grad School student at UNCW fulfilling my lifelong dream of advanced degrees and writing full-time. I am also a recently laid off high school teacher , but felt as Sylvia Plath did, that "teaching is dying a slow death in front of an audience." The education system is broken and I can't save it by being in it--but perhaps my words can help.


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JUNE 3, 2011 5:41PM

Miss Darling Is Pink-Slipped

Rate: 2 Flag

 kids need teachers

When Miss Darling received the warning Pink Slip on March 31, she was alarmed to say the least. It felt like a fist had punched her in the stomach, her eyes teared, but she refused to cry. No! No! No! and well, if it's Yes, maybe it's a sign of some kind. The fact is that Miss Darling had been worried.... all teachers in the US are worried.

What was once considered a secure job--teachers and nurses are always needed! Everywhere! At all times!--was now one up on the chopping block. Teachers have been laid off in record numbers. Apparently we are shrinking in the number of teenagers and children? No, no we're not. In fact, we are growing in numbers... and with these children having new children at a ridiculous rate, the numbers would have to be monumental in a few years.

But what else could explain teacher lay-offs in a country that so values EDUCATION.

I mean, we do, right? We say we do.

Politicians harp on it. Everyone knows it. We care!!!!

We have state testing and mandates to prove it!

We say it, therefore it's true.

Sadly, it's all a pack of lies and soundbytes.

America does not give a damn about education. Period. End of conversation.

But wait! No, you say, no! We do care! It's the most important thing in the world, the children are our future, we want an educated populis, we care, we care! No. No we don't. Now I will give you the facts to prove this.

If we the people cares about education..........would we be raising or taking the cap off classroom numbers? As Seth Meyers would question on The Weekend Update: really? really?

How many people out there honestly believe that raising classrooms to over 30 students, sometimes as high as 40 or more, equals a quality education? By quality I mean, the student actually learns something. The student is known by the teacher. There might even be one-on-one interaction between student and teacher. If the student is slipping through the cracks, the teacher will be able to intervene and swoop in and hopefully catch the student.

It is not possible.

One teacher cannot give this level of care to approximately 350 students per year--or more. Could you? With a 187 day school year, students are in English, Math, Science for about 150 hours for each class.... with 350 students per teacher, a student should average 3 hours a year face time with the teacher IF everything is fair.

Can a child learn what they need in 3 hours one-on-one and the rest of the time be motivated to (by whom?) to work independently and dilegently? Hmmmm..... not in Miss Darling's experience.

And this is education and therefore not fair, so Miss Darling is here to guarantee you that students are not given 3 hours one-on-one time. This is not because of weak intentions by our public school teachers despite what Michelle Rhee has tried to convince you, dear Public. This is because our classrooms are both babysitting arenas and the dumping ground of students that no one knows what to do with. If even a third of a class is spent trying to reign behavorial issue students in? How much is left? And who does it go to? The kids who yells the loudest or the quietest ones? How much energy does a teacher have left?

Miss Darling has worked in a situation where if students had behavioral issues, it was considered her fault because her lessons were not creative and inspiring and motivating enough.... it was not that the kid was out of control, not-parented, not given consequences for actions at school. A teacher who sent students to the office or wrote up one too many were written up themselves.

What do you think happened? Yes. The out of control kids stayed in class, cussing and spitting and acting the fool. And your kid was in this class, dear Public... and they were not learning.

Overflowing classrooms will not work.

More evidence........ We do not pay our teachers well.

Teachers are professionals. We want the best doctors and lawyers, politicians and plumbers, car mechanics and computer experts.... we say we care about education yet we don't pay well enough to grab the attention of the best and the brightest--unless, like Miss Darling they have a special calling, ah-hem! And guess what, Public? Teachers do. It is fine for Michelle Rhea to play the blame game and point her sharp lying fingers at teachers and say "you're fault, you're fault, nanananananana!" But it's not the teacher's fault. Miss Darling has worked in four schools in two different states and have met very few (actually no) teachers who didn't honestly-from-the-bottom-of-their-hearts -cross-their-heart-and-hope-to-die care. Teachers do care. They work hard. They have integrity. They are doing their best with the little they have to work with. They spend their own money to buy supplies and take classes... they work ungodly hours.... they take the hard way almost every time... they battle parents who don't care or  won't accept that their little terrors are not perfection in human form...they deal with administration who all seem to have forgotten what teaching is the second they cross the threshold of an administrative office........ they take work home.....

Even teachers whose methods aren't that stellar, but believe what they do is important  make a big difference. Just caring about kids makes a difference....

.....let's say this one more time, Public....with the rare, rare Marilyn Monroe rare exception... teachers are not to blame.

Yes, there are teachers who are worn out.There are indeed. Why are they worn out? Begin this article again and read from the top, and scroll down and up on this site and read Miss Darling's other postings. 

If we cared about education, we'd pay our teachers well. Period. Recent surveys of International Education reveals that US teachers work the longest hours coming in at #1 (woohoo! Nothing to be proud of winning--more does not equal better, it equals burnout!) and coming in #11 on salary behind Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and only a fraction about Australia. We are ranked Average in Learning on a World Ratings Scale, averaging 500 out of 1000. This might explain to me why my students are happy with a 70--Hey, I passed, Dude!!!!! If we as Americans who are so cut-throat and born to succeed are so okay with a 500/1000, who can blame the kids? We aren't even at the 70 mark, Public. We are FAILING. 

pink slipped T-shirt 

So knowing this, in spite of this, we are laying off teachers. And these lay offs are not related at all to need or to ability, but to time spent by the teacher at that particular school and where oh where can we save enough..... money. People are always ranting about tenure.... It takes 5 years at the same school in most states to earn tenure. Miss Darling does not have tenure. Apparently the states don't even trust each other in terms of granting tenure. The teachers being laid off are ones that have less than 3 years at their given school (in my state, many more are laying off tenured teachers as well) . So if you changed schools for whatever reason.... you, my friend, are out of luck.


Some of these teachers are "hired back" when final budgets are in. Most are not. Miss Darling will not be. Her school had to cut two postions. They have chosen her's and a Social Studies teacher. The Social Studies teacher will not be therefore that department is outraged as their class sizes will increase... not to mention the teacher herself. She's a brand new out of college first year with energy, ideas, dreams... now she's considering changing professions.

In the case of Miss Darling, the position is Reading. This is a seriously interesting and revealing cut. Miss Darling's Reading is a high school reading class for 9th grade students who did not pass the 8th grade state Reading test. These kids are below proficient in reading. Reading. Yes, reading--what they need to be able to do to perform well in all subjects, including, yeah LIFE. So these kids with low lexile scores take reading to accompany English to build their reading levels. There is a 9th grade state Reading test they will need to pass, in additon to the previous sentence. And then a 10th grade Writing test, and reading and writing are linked, without one you can't do the other very well. These kids now have no supplement.

What message does this send? They aren't cared about. They aren't worth it.

It's all a lie.

And oh yeah, English teachers, you have no back up or support, so you get to take all of your kids to the 10th grade level, including those who are at 8th, 6th, 4th grade levels.... all in 3 hours a child.

And guess what? Not a single coach, of many, was let go.  

Miss Darling is sad.

Miss Darling has an exit plan for herself that will probably work okay, but she is sad indeed.

Miss Darling is very brave. Yet for our future, Miss Darling is afraid, very afraid.

And Miss Darling is sick of the lies. We do not care about education. We don't. Admit it. We'd rather have a new cell phone than educate our kids. Miss Darling is not a conspiracy theorist, but is beginning to believe that our elected officials and school adminstrators could not be this stupid. 1 + 1 does equal 2.

Either we are aleady stupid beyond reason or we are intentionally trying to create a stupid population--easily manipulated, easily controlled. Either option horrifys Miss Darling. Being an English/Reading teacher and all, Miss Darling has read her 1984 and Animal Farm, in addition to Farenheit 451

pink car back 

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My daughter inlaw is a teacher in Canada. It seems to be a different world there but music and phys ed were the first programs cut years ago. Now it is the teachers job to create the exercise. But even in Canada retireees came back to work for $$$ and the young teachers have a hard time finding jobs.

My friend is a teacher in Arkansas where she encounters all your problems. Their school is always threatened to be shut down.
Where does it end?
I just do not know.
Michelle's organization is running constant deep pocket ads telling people that all teachers don't care about kids, and she has to save them. They just keep bad teachers on, and someone with only three years experience (young) would be better. Just get rid of any teacher rights and the seniority system and the result would be all great teachers! Yea and the principle's pets and relatives would all be great teachers.
No one is talking about the huge increase in immigration and poor kids from uneducated families who don't even speak English. Of course , it lowers test averages.
They have hit on a new scapegoat for the embarrassment. All the fault of incompetent teachers. They would all be geniuses instead.
re the last paragraph, there is an amazing/ legendary/ scathing quote by george carlin on that subj... maybe should put it in my blog sometime.....