(This my daughters present public school teachers are amazing… this obviously isn’t reflective of the whole US or even the whole Bay Area… but at the time when I felt this, it did feel like being surrounded by a gang of public school teachers eager to get on their Harley’s to burn some rubber on the ECL…)
I’ve been nursing ego wounds from a week of trying to speak with my daughter’s summer camp teachers. These are public school teachers are called upon to teach summer camp in an unnamed Palo Altan school in an unnamed summer camp.
The head teacher has these two or three carpools to take her to her after school tutoring in Los Altos. So she has her carpool mates come in on the spot at fifteen minutes after class concludes and loudly scream in to the room “EXCUSE ME, BUT SHE HAS TO LEAVE, WE HAVE A CARPOOL WAITING” and some times remarks like “oh my God, mornings and afternoons?!!” Or “God! It’s summer, she can’t be having any fun doing camp work!” The teacher to whom I was speaking to kept on talking and smiling but never once looks up to stop her friends from loudly and rudely interrupting my speech.
It is well rehearsed and well practiced. On all occasions it was in front of my daughter. As her primary mentor I wish I could have taken these opportunities to show her how to deal with boisterous, possibly racist or sexist, bullies at school. However, to these white female teachers, I could not stand up. We rush out of there as fast as humanly possible to avoid one of them taking the shouting up a notch. We do not want to be first in a teacher shooting students and parents incident.
I mean did they care that I was also there at 3pm in the afternoon? Did they care that I had a serious question for the teacher responsible for the class? On some days, I was picking up material so I can help my daughter with work that her teacher couldn’t teach her. Has the teacher no shame in her failure? Public school teachers really really suck here. I mean what kind of jerk behavior is this for teacher, to rush from one job to another and just half-assing each class. What kind of people set up these ass-hole friends to rudely prevent any very polite but important questions about their students!? (That is to say, there is and an Indian parent they interrupt as well, it’s definitely not just against my Chinese family)
I was politely warned that the class has a lot of foreigners. I suppose I should have gotten the message and left the class ? Services won’t be that good for minorities…
Now, the other side of the coin is the problem that her head teacher at camp is actually with her all day. Certainly, I am proud that I didn’t become angry to respond aggressively to the rude and inappropriately irresponsible behavior. I suppose if I complained, my daughter may be targeted further by these other people, I guess they are also teachers at camp and may be present during the day. I never, in my child’s life, for a moment thought I’d fear one of the schools faculty giving my daughter a talk down during the day, until I feared it this week.
What is a parent to do?
I grew up in America in the 90’s in a public school. (Recall movies from this era include the likes of Stand and Deliver and Dangerous Minds, when they made movies about dedication and innovations in California public schools) It actually got a Blue Ribbon from then President Clinton the year I graduated. Some of the teachers were boisterous for sure (and some quiet, some jocks, some queers, some queens, I dare say the same human spectrum as we have in California today) but definitely very considerate and for all I can see gives their whole life to the job. The population there were very distinct–you can very easily tell a teacher of German ancestry from a French one and from an English one, and I was obvious a recent Chinese immigrant–there were not many mixed or Latin American heritage, but nobody really let any of that burden themselves. They saw talent where it grew and nurtured it. They stay late after class and after school on demand. Sometimes they spend their own money for school supplies. Even the least famous teacher at school paid full attention to their students when they asked questions. They make almost no money, but teaches great classes that inspires us to work hard to learn. The good old days when teachers were actually interested in a successful teaching/learning experience where knowledge is imparted. The teachers were actually interested in the stuff they taught. You can sense their excitement to teach each new topic. You can hear their happiness when you learned as a student. You can feel their pain and sadness at each and everyone of your failures. What a great life I’ve had if only to have known that kind of people once. I feel so sorry for my kids’ generation…
None of this gives me an idea for an aggressive response, a response in kind, or an effective response. But at least my head is in the right gear now, no longer aloft in my memories of how things were in an ancient time.
P.s. okay, wise-asses, I hear you mumble, why don’t you work harder yourself to be a rich and powerful corporate leader, and then surely your problems will melt away. That’s not the point. The problem is that I lose faith in the public school system that I help to fund. These teachers are teaching people that my children will have to live and work with when they grow up. They teach the people who will pay for my social security. They teach the people who will drive my Uber… It is irresponsible for me to see this situation and to not take note of it. It is irresponsible to not consider how to fix it.
While writing this, I heard a pro Union speaker on NPR, Jane McLevy, something about “…there are people out there who are organic-only vegitarian, electric car driving, opponents.of teacher unions…” And also, “Silicon Valley is just as evil and bad for society as Wall Street…”
So, that’s really loaded comments. I’m organic vegitarian and electric car driver for over a decade, and I’m presently complaining about teachers of public schools. My complaint is that union teachers and public schools aren’t really doing a good job. It is not that unions are bad, it’s just the quality of the profession needs to rise to the demands of a 21st century world. Union can help that cause.
For example, wouldn’t it be nice if our law require that any time there is a union, there be at least two unions? The unions will compete with each other to help teachers work more effectively. When all the teachers are in the same union, there is no incentive for it to work efficiently and effectively.
Assuming, that is, the people who think and speak about this matter, really want something “good for society” and not just “more pay for less work”
But they are right, Silicon Valley is certainly very evil in many ways. But think about it this way, wouldn’t you want two devil’s competing instead of one devil? They interfere with each other and hopefully produce something better. Right? We want something better right?