The following directives have come from the head office, known to all of us simply as “downtown”.
1. Downtown has mandated that 70% of all English lessons involve the teaching of non-fiction.
2. We are not to use our textbooks for the teaching of non-fiction. We are to xerox everything.
3. We need to cut back on xeroxing. Thus, we are given only one ream of paper per month. The two broken xerox machines will not be fixed.
4. We are to prepare an extensive semester pre-test. When I review the directions, I estimate that mine will be fifty pages. No one is to collaborate. Each test is to be individually prepared. All tests must be pegged to state standards. The state standards are things like, “The students will write in Standard English.” Nonetheless, each item in our test is to contain a justification of, for example, why I want my students to master Standard English.
5. We are to have a “word wall”, vocabulary words that we put up on our wall.
6. We are to prepare to have our walls painted.
7. The “company snitch”, our academic consultant, tells us that she will visit each class, following which she’d “like twenty minutes of our time” for a follow-up consultation. One year, she visited my class 38 times in one semester. Think about it. 38 X 20 = you count the hours.
8. I’m to attend an all-day meeting on Saturday, this to discuss how to teach college level courses offered in the high school. I mentioned to the downtown poohbah that I taught college, as an adjunct professor, for twenty-plus years. She just stared at me like I’d handed her my bowtie and asked for change.
9. I am to give individualized instruction to each of my 150 students, a third of whom are reading below grade-level, a quarter of whom have been speaking English for approximately an hour and forty-five minutes.
10. We may give a state test. Or not. But we are to prepare for both.
11. The art department was told to ignore all the directives this year, because that department is not involved in the state test, and, therefore, is not important.
12. The French and Spanish teachers have been laid off, because “Those aren’t important languages.” This from a principal who goes on to remind us to beautify our rooms with “decorums”, the same guy who periodically addresses the “freshmens”.