Common Sense is No Longer Common: An Open Letter from April Hays

In the Classroom4

I came across this on Facebook today and received permission from April Hays to share here.  Thank you, April, for your wit and wisdom!

April Hays

Anderson 5 [South Carolina school district]

Common Sense Is No Longer Common

I have just taught all day long in a third grade classroom. The kids were fine. The day went smooth. But I have come to two conclusions. I either:

a. Have a brilliantly blessed cranium, or

b. Am missing a few vital neuron connections in that cranium.

Now assuming I have been brilliantly blessed, I’d like to propose legislation that would dramatically change life for the better here in SC. Read on.

1. I would like to see all branches of law enforcement held accountable for the crime on our streets. If there is crime, surely that means they aren’t doing their jobs. We, as tax payers, deserve to live in safe neighborhoods. Regardless of whether the police serve retirement villages or drug infested prostitute hang outs, they will all be held accountable. If a policeman patrols a community with no crime, he will be paid. If a policeman has a community with crime, he will not be paid. Additionally, police may only use positive measures to enforce the law. They may no longer use any type of weapon or rude words. This may scar the self esteem of us citizens. We would then need counseling services, and the police would be responsible if one of us snaps and blows up a public establishment. If we are following the law, they must pull us over and tell us “Good Job” and perhaps give us a piece of candy. Note: personally I wouldn’t care if they congratulated me or not. If I knew I wasn’t going to get a ticket and my insurance go sky high, I’d drive at least 70 on my way home from school every single day.

2. I would like to see accountability on all dentists. If there are cavities in our mouths, obviously the dentists aren’t doing their jobs. We go to the dentist for a reason – to prevent our pearly whites from rotting out. Why can’t these highly paid professionals do their job? There should not be a cavity in any mouth in all of SC. If there are, then the dentists are falling short, and they should have their licenses revoked. They should not be allowed to practice dentistry in our state.

3. Doctors, also, should be held accountable on the job. If a doctor has a patient that has cancer, that doctor is not doing their job. Why do doctors become doctors? To heal people. Thus, if they aren’t healing people, they aren’t doing their job and should not be paid. Doctors are highly paid individuals, and we citizens deserve to be healthy. If we get these incompetent doctors out of practice, that would reduce our medical costs. Then this hoopla over health insurance would no longer be an issue (told you I had a blessed cranium).

4. Owners of gyms, health clubs, and all registered dieticians should be held accountable on their jobs. If there is obesity in their cities, obviously they aren’t doing their jobs. If health clubs and gyms have any member that weighs over 130 pounds, their establishments should be shut down. Obviously they are incompetent, and thus, should not be allowed to perform these services to the people of our state. If these individuals were held accountable on their jobs, we’d all be thin. There would be no diabetes or heart disease.

Sound ridiculous? We teachers think so, too. Yet, there are legislators, the Superintendent of Education, and our newly elected governor that want these mandates placed on teachers. They have this mentality that if a teacher performs the right combination, the human mind will click into place and our entire population will be educated. Thus, underperforming teachers will not be paid. One of these so called professionals said on tv the other night, “if our show ratings went down, we wouldn’t get paid either”. Ding, ding, ding – they choose their cast. We teachers and doctors and dentists deal with anyone that walks into our places of employment. We can not pick and choose the “best”.

Classrooms are microcosms of society. Each year, I have kids with privileged backgrounds and kids with adverse living conditions. I have kids that live on the lake, and I have had kids that live in their car. I have kids that have loving, supportive parents, and I have kids with parents that simply should not be parents. I have kids that were born with high IQ’s (this is why they are labeled as GIFTED), and I have children that are like the rest of us – normal. I have children that have been through tragedies – deaths of parents, a handicapped sibling, a terminally ill loved one, and living arrangements that make me shudder. I have children that have been taken into custody of the department of social services, and I’ve had children that have never traveled out of Anderson County. I have had children born to mothers on drugs, and I have students with no mother at all. Yet, all of these kids are expected to perform proficiently, without exception. Something is clearly not right with this picture. These students with challenges, with hardships, and who were not born “gifted” deserve an education, too. They are the reason I went to college to become a teacher – to touch lives. When this passion is being trampled on by ignorant individuals, I take that as a personal offense. SC school children deserve teachers that love them for who they are, not for the scores they achieve.

Not only is this just outright ridiculous, it is also discriminatory. Many, many people are born with handicaps. These are documented, medical conditions. They are clearly outlined. These individuals have IEPs for a reason – they have challenges. These legislators do not have the qualifications, nor do they have the authority, to lay expectations on these students. IEP’s are legally binding documents that are taken seriously.

Furthermore, teachers do not decide the content of what they teach, how they teach it, or how it is assessed. When students take the PASS test in the spring, it is illegal for us to discuss it in anyway. We are not allowed to discuss ways we can make it better, how we can improve, or how we could be better able to meet it’s demands. We are silenced. Yet, we are held accountable for the results. Always.

Anyone, regardless of position, who can not see why paying teachers based on student performance would not work, clearly has mental challenges themselves, and an obvious inability to think above a third grade level. I challenge them to take the third grade PASS test to prove my point.

As I stated earlier, I am either brilliantly blessed or missing a few screws. This seems like a total no brainer to me. I have no idea what could possibly be going through the minds of the people out there that think teachers should be held to those ridiculous expectations that no other occupations have to answer for.

Teachers/Educators/Administrators – we’ve got to stand up for our rights and demand integrity in the schools.

Parents – your child’s future is important. Take a stand. If your children have developmental delays/learning disabilities, these new mandates are discriminatory. Make your voices heard.

As for me, I’m instilling in my students self worth. They are important. They are special to me, and I believe in each one of them. They will make their marks on this world. I guarantee. And if my salary is docked because one of my students has a bad day and doesn’t do his absolute best on the PASS test, I’m going to be floating on a yacht in the Caribbean.

Ignorance is, indeed, total bliss.

Image attribution:  “In the Classroom4” by best librarian

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lbryfun/5166911211/

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8 Responses to “Common Sense is No Longer Common: An Open Letter from April Hays”

  1. klee Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting so succinctly into words exactly what I and my colleagues have been discussing this past year.

  2. Harvey Silverstein Says:

    Well said. Thank you.

  3. hloy Says:

    Amen, Sister! I love how everyone likes to point fingers and believes they know what will “fix” the educational system – especially those who have never TAUGHT in our educational system or are so far removed from the classroom they forget the realities we face day to day. They forget education cannot be a “one-size-fits-all” as with NCLB and Race to the Top and expecting everyone to pass “THE TEST” at the same time or on a set schedule (or at all as with students who have severe disabilities) is ridiculous.

  4. Don Says:

    Very well said. From the husband of a former teacher, father of two teachers and father-in-law of anther teacher.

  5. Gail Grainger Says:

    Thank you! This is the best letter I have seen, you nailed it!
    Gail

  6. Bill Whitehurst Says:

    Ignorance IS bliss, which is defined as perpetual happiness. The constitution of the United States gives us the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, when politicians are being “ignorant”, they are merely exercising their constitutional rights and I am sure this is their justification for many things we “normal” folks scratch our heads about.

  7. Pam Koncki Says:

    So very well said. It is a wonder that anyone in SC goes into teaching given the gross disrespect in which the profession is held. Everyone – except the people who actually do the work – is an “expert.” It is incomprehensible that legislators want teacher pay to be based, in part, in student and parent evaluations of their work. Imagine all of the professions you cite in your article being held to that nonsensical “standard.”


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