Saturday, November 29, 2014
Mr. Wallace, Where Are You Now?
Michelle Rhee has disappeared from the frontlines of educational reform although one still senses her lurking in the wings. She once spouted praise for a certain Mr. Wallace. He was the ideal teacher, a marked contrast from those older, tired, cynical, tenured teachers who would deride him at the workplace. He came in early, worked late and regularly fed students at McDonald's while he coached them in math, all in his spare time and on his meager salary. Superman!
It is genuinely nice that Mr. Wallace worked so hard and donated so much free time and fries to his students. Oddly enough, it is much in the same vein as Rhee, herself, who tells of volunteering the time of her aunts, sweatshop-style, to help her prep for math lessons. But, Mr. Wallace, where are you now? Are you married with a family? Can you still afford all the free time and fries at McDonalds? Has a student keeled over from an allergic reaction or a diabetic seizure? Have you been brought up on charges of impropriety for meeting with children after school without signed permission slips, albeit less severe than your mentor's self-proclaimed faux pas of taping students' mouths shut? Are you sitting in one of those nonexistent rubber rooms somewhere?
Mr. Wallace, have you or Mr. Wallet suffered burnout? Are you still Superman? Do you love your VAM scores? Or, have you followed in the footsteps of Rhee? Have you quit the profession for a higher salary that affords you the opportunity to chastise other teachers for failing to do more with less? Have you joined the ranks of those in the media who would assault public-school teachers for a living? Mr. Wallace, if you can hear me, where are you now?
For many years, I, too, Mr. Wallace, put in extra hours at work. I cannot afford to do so anymore. Even if I could, teachers are blocked today from coming to work early or staying past school hours unless the proper form is completed and approved. Teachers cannot be trusted in a quiet building under the pretense of grading a huge pile of papers. It's a wonder that teachers are even let into schools these days, Mr. Wallace! Please, Mr. Wallace, if you can hear me, where are you now? Are you on the inside or out?