Dear Mr. Gates,
I worked in a large inner city school corporation in Indiana. We had “Gates Money” for awhile, but the district got tired of all the Gate’s rules, and divested.
My largest classroom was 43. I was considered a good classroom manager. New and struggling teachers would be sent to observe my classroom, until the two years before we were to be “taken over”.
That’s when “reform” pushed the district into triage mode, and to keep down suspensions and expulsions, the kids who made too much trouble in the valuable schools were sent to schools like mine.
We had active gang members from every working gang in the city. Imagine how difficult it would be to manage a classroom of 43 teenagers in “normal” circumstance, let alone where at least 10 people in the class want to kill or maim each other, let alone all the posing and disregard for “collateral” damage.
My 43 were nothing compared to what the poor music teachers dealt with, their classes easily topped out at more than 50-60 students.
Folks don’t seem to realize that just because you tell a student to “practice this” or “work on that” doesn’t means they’ll do it, especially when there are so many at once, and they are INDIVIDUALS who want the attention THEY NEED, and have a right to expect from their instructors.
The best organized teacher on the planet can’t control a classroom full of students who aren’t willing to cooperate, who are trying to demonstrate their own autonomy and resistance to authority, because it’s a survival skill.
Kids are smart, they have excellent BS meters. They know when the work is meaningful or engaging, and when it is busy work because the teacher has more to do than humanly possible.
It wasn’t this bad before corporate REFORM. In the previous two decades, my classes rarely reached 25. The students in my school were from the neighborhood, and there was stability among a staff that wasn’t forced to turn over every two years. The community knew us and supported us.
Thanks, Mr. Gates. You, and people like you, have destroyed what was once a relatively safe, stable, and functional student centered environment, where teachers collaborated with administrators to meet the challenges of students and their families, and replaced it with one of fear, anarchy and terror, devoid of mutual trust and shared mission.
A Teacher Anonymous in Indiana