Need Advice


#1

I didn’t know which forum to put this, but since it involves a crisis of faith (in myself), I thought this would be an appropriate place.

The other day, the wind was blowing hard where I teach, and my classroom door (with it’s broken hydraulics) opened with such force that it nearly hit a kid standing nearby. It would have seriously injured him, had it hit him. All the doors at my school have busted hydraulics and have for years. It’s a miracle no one’s been killed. The district knows it and doesn’t want to fix it. Nor did they bother to build a playground for my 3rd graders to play on this entire year- too expensive. Two years ago, at another school within the same district, I had a girl fall out of the swingset and break her arm landing on the hardpan under the swings. I sent emails to my superintendent begging for some sand to be poured to at least break a kid’s fall, and I was transferred to another site.

My class size is not supposed to exceed 29 students, and yet my 3rd grade team has spent the whole year with 34 kids in their rooms because hiring a new teacher would have meant building a new portable classroom. It’s cheaper to cram students into existing classrooms and pay teachers the “overage” ($7 per kid per day). We complained, of course, but we didn’t complain very hard because two of the teachers on my grade level aren’t tenured, and I didn’t want to drag them into a fight and possibly ruin their careers.

Two years ago, my friend’s classroom air-conditioner quit working, and he had to take his special ed students to the computer lab for most of the day because his room was too hot (this was in August). I told my administrator at least a dozen times to get it fixed, but after a month of nothing happening, my friend decided enough was enough and called OSHA, to report working condition violations. OSHA came out and fined the district tens of thousands of dollars. Feeling betrayed, they made my friend’s life a living hell that year, making up lies about him and trying to get him fired at the end. I spent all Summer working on his case, and we won that particular round. Thank God he had been District-wide teacher of the year just a few years before.

And there are a dozen other examples I could give, but you get the gist.

So my dilemma is I know I work for people who neglect the needs of children, and there is a pattern of neglect. The people that run the district are some of the highest paid administrators within 50 miles, so I know where the money goes. If I go public with this, they will go after me with a vengeance. I will be harassed, lied about, and they’ll probably start the process to get me fired. Word will get around that I’m a whistleblower, so working at another district might not be an option. I can’t move, because my son is going to a good high school, and has three more years there.

And so I know all this, and my plan is to transfer to another district, and just put it all behind me. Yet I feel like a coward by not exposing the neglect and incompetence going on. But if I really go after them, it would turn my life upside-down, and possibly get me fired, if they really wanted to make up lies about me. And transferring to the other district (which is only 10 miles down the road) probably won’t be an option.

I feel like I have a moral obligation to be a whistleblower, but I’m afraid of the effects it would have on myself and my family. I’m the sole breadwinner and teaching is all I know. Going to another district seems like running away, like something a coward would do.

Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


#2

I believe your laundry list of complaints is BS.


#3

So you don’t believe that government bureaucrats are mismanaging and/or misappropriating public funds? I find that quite easy to believe, myself. For example, a few years ago the Columbus/Muskogee County school board had decided to spend umpteen million dollars on a brand new ‘administrative campus’, while the schools themselves fell apart. Fortunately, the Columbus/Muskogee County voters are a bit more aware and involved than average, I suppose, and the public outrage shut that idea down hard, and caused a bit of turnover on the school board… The school board moved into a re-purposed retail facility, iirc, at about 1/20 the cost, and the remaining eleventy million dollars got spent on education (as well as can be expected, any way).

Unfortunately for DHL, the public has to take responsibility for the behavior of their officials, and when it is unacceptable, replace them. If the public doesn’t care enough to do it, then it isn’t likely to get any better. All you can really do without exposing yourself to vengeful reaction from your superiors is to document the issues and turn it over to a third party group like the PTA. You could try an elected county official (whether they be called commissioners or supervisors or whatever in your county) or if there is a criminal component (and you have evidence of it), the DA, but officials tend to want you to go on record (because no one believe in CYOA more than elected officials).

The horns of your dilemma are family obligations and ethics. You have to decide how much weight each one gets in the balance of your life. My only advice is to talk it over with your family and maybe some colleagues you can trust, make the best decision you can, and bear in mind the guy who will look back at you from the mirror and how much you value his opinion of your actions.


#4

I believe the OP is a got you post . School is not held in august unless there are summer classes and remember I went through high school and before without air conditioning. As for the doors there are things called door stops. Large classes were the norm in my day. In the end all this is a vehicle to get stuff started. I do not believe it for a minute. We did not have snow days and the school was still held even when the temperature was up. Even if the hydraulics on the doors do not work they still can be opened and even propped up so the kids do not get hurt.

My answer addresses his complaints rather than government malfeasance which I agree uses the children as pawns when they ask fr more money “for the kids” when that money goes to hire more administrative people or up the salaries of those that have no direct care of children. Even then when I read about someone putting down 60 to 100 thousand in schools and the kids come out not being able to read their own diploma.

Public School Teacher Salaries in Chicago, IL and how key factors that impact them - Salary.com

Salary.com Salary Wizard- Do you know what you’re worth?

Yes I know various areas have different wage scales and yes I also know that in my area they put a referendum on the ballot most every election “for the kids”

BTW one of my kids has a son with the same condition I have and that is the only classroom with a window airconditioner something I never had.


#5

Most schools start back around August 20th.


#6

Schools around here start is September and I did attend one that started two weeks earlier but the point is still the same by late august the weather is changing to cooler weather. The whine does not impress me.


#7

This is a school within 30 miles of me. They start August 10th. Doorstops don’t stop doors from being ripped out of your hands when you open them by High Desert wind gusts, nor do they have anything to do with kids breaking arms or kids with severe disabilities being deliberately misplaced in mild-to-moderate special ed classrooms.

You are clueless.

http://www.lancsd.org/pages/Lancaster_School_District/Student_Calendar_2015-16


#8

Yeah, I have to talk it over with my wife. Thanks for posting!


#9

Well, I’m going to take it as a sincere request and respond accordingly. I can sympathize because I have made a few similar decisions that are…uncomfortable… in retrospect. But our situations are different (I don’t have kids). Nor is my experience like yours (you are somewhat older than me, for one thing). I get your “suck it up” attitude, but every place I have ever lived, enough money was paid in that the kids should not have to “suck it up”.


#10

It was 115 with heat index where I was, last August. No idea where DHL lives. But since he talks about desert winds, I’d wager it’s Arizona or Nevada. Both of which can easily hit over 100 and the sun is intense. No A/C can have a room climbing even hotter than the temp outside.


#11

You are making assumptions about his conditions and I was pointing out that as a typical snowflake he was whining about things and embellishing his plight. Of course it is out of “concern for the children”–wink wink


#12

Seems like a post to pressure us to say, we need more FUDDREL GOOBERMINT money and more FUDDREL CONTROL - to chase out those big, bad, corrupt local administrators.

Doesn’t the FedGov have SUCH a sterling reputation for responsible money management? Is there any place that better polices itself than the Federal bureaucracy?


#13

Yeah we all knows how that works. Schools nowadays have more administration than back in my days in the 50’s and 60’s as does many government places. I had a relative who worked for the same place I did and when she started there it had a top administrator and one other. When I worked there each unit had a director, secretary, psychologist, social worker, nurse, living unit administrator and so on.

A few years back there was an article about some hospital where the ratio of direct care to patient was low while administration had grown exponentially. The point is when more money is thrown at it the result sees to never improve conditions.

One point I would like to address if this area the OP works has such heat there surely is some kind of airconditioning already in use. Boy this opens up memories of days gone by where a local school district that I had attended years ago decided it needed another new school built because they said they were getting over two hundred new students and all they got was twelve. The appetite for money by these government agencies grows. Why does this concern me? I am dreading getting my property tax bill this year. The last two years they lowered the value of my home and increased my taxes. The whole left side of the tax bill is nothing but pensions I am paying for so my pension like so many others is being used to pay for their pensions.

So when I hear a teacher cry how difficult it is to work 8 months out of the year and how hard the work conditions are while they preach liberal propaganda and useless subjects that does not prepare them for life but to be whiners and victims of “microaggressive behavior” I am inured to their cries.


#14

And, to take it a step further…the REASON goobermint skeuls hire all this flotsam, is FUDDREL MONEY. It’s there to pay for these drones - so take it. And if they don’t take it they invite inspection - to have the Fudds come in and find what’s “deficient” about the skeul and perhaps bring lawsuits.

Carrot-and-stick. And the carrot is in a monkey-trap - reach in to grab that free Fuddrel cash, and you’re caught. They own you.

And then liberals here want to posit that DIRECT COMPLETE CONTROL by the Fudds is going to solve everything.


#15

Sounds to me like the tragedy of the commons, a powerful argument against public sector anything. It sounds like a reason for a liberal and a teacher to think about embracing free markets where the customer, the family of the child, requires a quality product.

At the same time, the system we have is the system we have, and DH, you oughta say something. Talk to a reporter. Show the reporter what’s up if you can cope with the fallout. And if the fallout ends badly for you, well retaliation makes a good story too. It probably won’t be pretty or end too well, but I doubt it screws you up for life. It’s a decision you have to make, and you’ve got to think about your family and yourself. You could also do it off the record if you can. Point a reporter in the right direction, but that as likely as not won’t pan out if he or she can’t get anything tangible to report.


#16

I worked out a compromise after talking to my wife: I’ll take the job at the nearby district. It’ll mean a cut in pay, and earning tenure over again, but what really worries me is a “black swan” economic event where, if the new district has to lay off teachers, I’ll be the first to go. I saw that happen in 2008, when the economy imploded and my district bumped class sizes from 20-to-1 to 30-to-1, and we lost 30% of our teachers in one year. Everyone with less than 7 years seniority was laid off. To hedge against that, I’ve signed up to get a science credential, so I’ll at least have that to fall back on. Science teachers can almost always get a job, even in hard times.

I also plan on writing up a list of abuses that my current district is engaged in and sending it to the state superintendent. I’ll have at least 10 signatures on the letter (teachers who are nearing retirement, and are immune from pressure). It’s not an ideal solution, but better than nothing, I guess.

Thanks to some for the good input.


#17

I agree with you. I think the Dept of Education should be abolished. But that has nothing to do with my post, which was about neglect of school kids at the local level.


#18

I walked you through that. The answer…always…is FEDERAL MONEY.

Poor physical plant? FEDERAL MONEY.

Unsafe conditions? FEDERAL MONEY.

Low test scores; high dropout rates? FEDERAL MONEY.

Now…if you’re leading up to something else, you’re not making it plain. What is it you WANT done for all these “problems”?


#19

School districts are funded by states, not the federal government. The Feds provide some funding to implement special ed laws, but it’s never been enough to cover the FAPE mandate.

Anyway, again this has nothing to do with my post. My dilemma is whether to be a whistleblower or not. Increased funding would not solve the problem, as it would only go towards higher admin salaries at the expense of the kids.


#20

All his pain would go away if you gave him more money.
Remember it really is not about the children