Friday, August 04, 2006

Ready or not...

I know there are good things that happen in the DISD (Dallas Independent School District). But when I see the outcomes of so many of the kids, I get frustrated. And when I hear stories like I talk about below, I understand that there are other contributing factors to their lack of education. We can't always blame the parents and the neighborhood environment.

A friend of mine just took a job with DISD. She was unofficially hired over a month ago to teach 6th grade Reading or Social Studies. After she was hired by the principal, she had to complete the paperwork in Human Resources to become official. Knowing they were on vacation during the week of July 10, she waited. The week they came back she called their office once a day, every day, to no avail. She never heard a human voice and never received a return phone call. She persevered. Hearing that DISD would be having a job fair and hearing that HR would be there in the flesh, she went. She finally was able to talk to them and set up an appointment to sign her paperwork. That was Saturday, July 22. New teacher orientation started Monday, July 24. Though she had finally broken through, she was still unable to attend the Monday orientation because her paperwork was not completed yet. She continued on this cycle and finally is now an official DISD teacher as of this week. When she was finally hired, she was told it actually wasn't Reading or Social Studies that she would be teaching, but Langauge Arts. Though her undergraduate degree focused on English, she was not prepared for their uncommunicated change of mind. However, she was already now on the path to teaching and she had already quite her job so she accepted the change of plans.

She received the text books for her class today...1 week and 1 day before 6th graders will be running into her classroom. She has yet to be given passwords, Scope and Sequence guidelines, a working computer in her classroom, etc.

I know another guy who was just hired to teach in Plano. He was hired back in the Spring. This summer parents (AND STUDENTS!) called him asking him when they could meet. The school had requested a reading list to send home with the kids for the summer vacation. Less than a month into the summer, the kids were calling him asking him if they could begin meeting and discussing the summer reading list. They had already completed the first book.

Do you ever wonder why our kids in the inner city (specifically, our kids in DISD) might not be able to read, write and comprehend well upon exiting high school? Ever wonder why so many in our South Dallas sector drop out or aren't prepared for college? My friend in DISD has not entered the easiest school to teach in. I have learned over the years that one of the easiest ways to win over kids is to let them know they mean enough to you to be prepared for them. The least DISD could've done is given her time and resources to prepare. Instead, she now has a week.

Maybe instead of trying to blame and then fix the kids, we should work harder on trying to fix the system and equip teachers with the resources, guidance, and time they need to make their classrooms work. Too often, the hope I experience comes from the individuals that persevere every day with no help from the systems around them.
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