Thursday, June 23, 2016

Last Day of School: The Old and The New



Happy last day of school my fellow pedagogues. Note that your last day is a full day with students. Why do I bring this up? Because I am a shiftless corner cutter and a slacker who'd rather be shopping on my iphone than interacting with someone else's icky spawn. I think that's how we were portrayed in the Ed Reform box office floater Won't Back Down.  O.k. I do remember once upon a time in the pre-James Williams era when teachers were valued at least on an even par with used car salesmen and meth dealers, the last day was a non attendance day for kids and teachers used the morning to wrap up paperwork and edit the graduation list if someone hadn't turned in their grades on time (Fred Sales Award at SPHS). It was strangely enough a busy morning because you only had the morning to get everything wrapped up. 

Once the place was declared ready for shut down someone would get on the P.A. and direct us to whatever local eatery we'd agreed on for lunch. About the time coffee and pie were coming around -- or more pitchers of draft depending on whose table you were at -- El Jefe would thank us all for a great year even if it wasn't and with a wink and a nod we'd be told to adjourn to work on September's lesson plans. And that was it. End of the year, adios, don't forget your sunscreen and if you're teaching summer school I'll see you on the 5th. 

Honestly, it was a good feeling. Even working with Principals you didn't really love, there was still some strange sense of thanks and respect at the end of it all. So she didn't suspend Darren Beasley for pissing in your waste basket and maybe you got some snarky comment stuck on a post it across your lesson plan book that you handed in 3 weeks late. By the last day it was all good and summer was spread out before us like a deep blue pond on a hot sweaty afternoon. You felt pretty damned good and you were surrounded by people who felt the same way. 

But somewhere in the ed reform plague of the past dozen years or so it all went away. There would be no kidless last day of school. Kids would be expected to attend as far into the calendar as possible. And even though exams were done and corrected and everyone knew it, you'd be expected to put on some kind of magic show or entertainment for the anti climactic week where nothing counted for a grade and if I'm not getting a grade why should I do it? There would be no such luncheon near school and there would certainly not be any wink and a nod to an early quit for the profession that's become the go to chew toy and whipping boy of every sniveling politician and corporate union busting scum under the sun. No, you teachers are staying in the mine and shoveling coal until that whistle blows because we all know you barely do any work anyway. That's the mindset we currently operate under and if you doubt it you can check the minutes of last night's board meeting where Sir Lars of Quinnhamshire tried desperately to tie teacher health care costs to the general demise of American Civilization as a whole. Honestly I can't be bothered to go source his gibberish but rest assured he'd like us all to have a box of band aids, a roll of white tape and a quarter to call 911 for our health care plan. Cosmetic riders are for folk like Larry and his schooner friends not for lowly school teachers don't you know? 

And when you talk to teachers it's funny how few of them really grumble about this de-evolution of our final day. One of my colleagues came and asked me if I'd like to go in on pizza and wings for the kids who show tomorrow. I see people handing out silly coloring sheets, showing movies, doing puzzles, painting little wooden fish for the big blue wall in the lobby. There is really no bitching and the atmosphere is light. Maybe too many of us don't remember how last days used to be. I do though and the old way was a world better. When I was a union laborer in Denver Local 720 we'd have topping off parties when a particular phase of the job was completed. Nobody felt guilty knocking off early and having a few with some pizza for a job well done. It's kind of a shame guys pouring concrete can still enjoy a little feel good time for their hard work but those of us entrusted with the young minds of American youth somehow know better than to think we deserve any such breather.

For better or worse this is where we once were and where we are now. It's been a great year and a pleasure working with you. See you July 5th. Peace

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