I forgot to mention we christened the year with words passed down from our superintendent that he had a “new strategic plan” for the district. Best I could figure, his new strategic plan is to “raise expectations” and show double-digit growth. Also, our regional supervisors are now going to be called REXOS instead of NEXOS (that move itself probably cost the district $500,000 for all the new coffee mugs and door signs).

It is a lot easier to raise expectations than funding levels. Today I found out 3rd grade is not actually going up to 27 at our school, it’s going up to 30. That’s because that’s the maximum you can legally put in there. Reminds me of Chris Rock’s joke about minimum wage. “Do you know what they’re trying to tell you when they pay you minimum wage? If I could pay you less I would, but IT’S AGAINST THE LAW.”

So, you’re going to raise my class size 150% and tell me about your high expectations and new strategic plan? I have a new strategic plan for the district. Ready? Lower class sizes back to 20. Watch the magic.

I’m raising my expectations right back at ya, schoolboard members, superintendents and politicians, all the way up to Obama. I expect better of y’all. The kids deserve better.

6 responses »

  1. Jackie says:

    I’m also an Oakland teacher. Yes, the news that we have to “show double-digit growth” while greatly increasing our class sizes is ridiculous! I’m feeling angry and having a hard time tapping into my usual enthusiasm for the first week of school, which is also unfair to the wonderful children who will be coming through my door Monday morning. My only hope is that now parents are more likely to be angry as well. I imagine that, for public school parents, it’s easier to ignore the fact that teachers are underpaid, but much larger classes will be completely in their faces. I truly hope this will lead many parents to speak up and help our cause.


  2. rapillard says:

    blech. that’s all i can say. just blech.

    good luck on monday…

    • Lisa says:

      Let’s acknowledge the physical and psychological health and safety issues of having such oversized classrooms. As a kindergarten teacher, part of my job with 4-6 year-olds is inevitably germ abatement. With a 35% increase in students (from 20 to 27), that’s 35% more germs and potential infections!

      The emotional/psychological realities are difficult to quantify, but as Mr Peabody reports, there is a grieving atmosphere at school. We are left with the sinking feeling that quality education is not truly a priority, despite the rhetoric of politicians. And while class sizes increase drastically, we are in a school district that has been FINED $1,000,000 by the state of California for having EXCESS ADMINISTRATORS!!

      As a parent and teacher at my school, I have intimate knowledge of the fact that the teachers at my school will muster the courage and put out for all the children who arrive on Monday, because that’s just what these teachers do. They are a phenomenal group of people. I am grateful for my daughter’s fine teachers and my colleagues every day.

      But, realistically, there will be limits to what we can accomplish with our classes packed to the rafters. This is an equity issue. PARENTS MUST ORGANIZE to demand better working conditions for children and teachers.

  3. Karl says:

    I keep thanking my lucky stars that with each increase in student population, my (and every teacher’s) skill, experience, patience, and efficacy increase at a commensurate rate. If not for this extraordinary phenomenon, the kids’ education would surely suffer.

  4. Jackie says:

    I hope everyone knows that Karl’s post was meant to be tongue-in-cheek!

    • Karl says:

      Yes, thank you for the clarification, Jackie. I agree with Lisa above, that we’ll all be working our butts off, but we were already doing that. I’ve only got so much butt. As Lisa says, “there will be limits.” Sadly, school hasn’t even started, and already I’m feeling very…limited.

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