I've never actually had to perform the perp walk, but I thought it made for a more interesting post title than THE DEPRESSION WALK.
I've been doing the depression walk on and off since I got fired. It consists of barely moving my feet while my head hangs forward and my shoulders droop. Thank God I live in such a small house now. When I did the depression walk in my big house, sometimes I'd have to stop and just lie down on the floor because making it from one room to the next was too much.
As you may have guessed, I've had no luck finding another job. It took me 18 months to get the last one. I was teaching. At a failing school. And by that, I mean their grade from the state was a big fat F.
I kinda doubt I'll get another teaching job. I think I've been blackballed because I was a whistle blower, but I don't know what difference my whistle blowing made because nobody did anything about it. I guess the problem is that now I'm a known whistle blower and so oh Dear God I might do it again.
I think all states now have standardized tests students have to take as a way of judging the school. And the schools have to be judged because of No Child Left Behind. I certainly don't want children left behind, but oy vey, what I saw at that school. Those children were already so far behind I don't know how they could ever recover.
It's really a shame that so much money is spent on the tests and practice tests and materials to prepare for the tests instead of putting the money to work for the kids. Smaller class sizes and more individualized instruction seem like a couple of good ideas to me.
But anyhoo, back to the whistle blowing. The afternoon that I started working with my students, they had taken the state writing test that morning. Some of them told me that the teacher who gave them the test wrote all or part of their essays for them. They wouldn't tell me who the teacher was. One said, I ain't no snitch.
So at the end of the school day, of course I reported what the students had told me. The folks to whom I reported wanted names. I promised to investigate. I think it was my downfall. I know those kids would have talked. They would have told me more as soon as they got to know me.
So, man, I was out the door for no reason in less than a week. You see, here in the hinterlands, teachers can be fired for no reason during the first three months of employment.
I think the administration didn't want to know who cheated. I've read quite a few articles about cheating on the state-mandated tests. They all say it's to the schools' advantage to cheat, and of course it is. They want the money from the state that the school receives for improving. The teachers want the merit pay they get because their students have shown improvement.
They want higher scores.
Especially if the school's grade is F.
I reported all this to the teachers' union and to the appropriate people at the schools' central office. I even fired off a letter to the Superintendent of Schools.
Nobody cares. There was no investigation. No one asked me a single question.
The only response I received was an angry email from the principal who fired me telling me if I wanted to talk about the school I should contact him. Why in the hell would I get in touch with the guy who fired me? We're not exactly on a send each other Christmas cards basis.
The saddest thing about all this is not that I lost my job, although it brings out the depression walk in me.
The saddest thing is that taking the test for the student is tantamount to saying, You're not good enough. You can't do it, and rather than let you do what you are capable of, I will teach you to be helpless.
We should all be doing the depression walk over that.
Infinities of love,