Power of Story Send a Tweet        

Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter 1 Share on Facebook 3 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 14 (18 Shares)  

Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites (# of views)   3 comments
OpEdNews Op Eds

A Letter To The President The One I Voted For...

By       Message Paul H Karrer       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags  Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 8   Well Said 6   Valuable 5  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H4 8/23/11

Author 70487
- Advertisement -

A letter to President Obama from a fifth grade teacher
Education Week 2/06/2011

This flash video was removed for security reasons
Dear President Obama:

I mean this with all respect. I'm on my knees here, and there's a knife in my back, and the prints on it kinda match yours. I think you don't get it.

- Advertisement -
Your Race to the Top is killing the wrong guys. You're hitting the good guys with friendly fire. I'm teaching in a barrio in California. I had 32 kids in my class last year. I love them to tears. They're 5th graders. That means they're 10 years old, mostly. Six of them were 11 because they were retained. Five more were in special education, and two more should have been. I stopped using the word "parents" with my kids because so many of them don't have them. Amanda's mom died in October. She lives with her 30-year-old brother. (A thousand blessings on him.) Seven kids live with their "Grams," six with their dads. A few rotate between parents. So "parents" is out as a descriptor.

Here's the kicker: Fifty percent of my students have set foot in a jail or prison to visit a family member.

Do you and your secretary of education, Arne Duncan, understand the significance of that? I'm afraid not. It's not bad teaching that got things to the current state of affairs. It's pure, raw poverty. We don't teach in failing schools. We teach in failing communities. It's called the ZIP Code Quandary. If the kids live in a wealthy ZIP code, they have high scores; if they live in a ZIP code that's entombed with poverty, guess how they do? We also have massive teacher turnover at my school. Now, we have no money. We haven't had an art or music teacher in 10 years. We have a nurse twice a week. And because of the No Child Left Behind Act, struggling public schools like mine are held to impossible standards and punished brutally when they don't meet them. Did you know that 100 percent of our students have to be on grade level, or else we could face oversight by an outside agency? That's like saying you have to achieve 100 percent of your policy objectives every year.

- Advertisement -
It's not bad teaching that got things to the current state of affairs. It's pure, raw poverty.

You lived in Indonesia, so you know what conditions are like in the rest of the world. President Obama, I swear that conditions in my school are akin to those in the third world. We had a test when I taught in the Peace Corps. We had to describe a glass filled to the middle. (We were supposed to say it was half full.) Too many of my kids don't even have the glass!

Next, gangs. Gangs eat my kids, their parents, and the neighborhood. One of my former students stuffed an AK47 down his pants at a local bank and was shot dead by the police. Another one of my favorites has been incarcerated since he was 13. He'll be 27 in November. I've been writing to him for 10 years and visiting him in the maximum-security section of Salinas Valley State Prison. 

Do you get that it's tough here? Charter schools and voucher schools aren't the solution. They are an excuse not to fix the real issues. You promised us so much. And you want to give us merit pay? Anyway, I think we really need to talk. Oh, and can you pull the knife out while you're standing behind me? It really hurts.

Sincerely yours,
Paul Karrer

Paul Karrer is a 5th grade teacher at Castroville Elementary School in North Monterey County, Calif. He is a union negotiator and was the League of United Latin American Citizens' 2009 teacher of the year for North Monterey County.
- Advertisement -

 

- Advertisement -

Must Read 8   Well Said 6   Valuable 5  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Fifth-grade teacher, Education Columnist (Monterey County Herald)Teacher Negotiator, Published author

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

A Letter To The President The One I Voted For...