Lighting the torches and sharpening the pitchforks

So, it’s been a week since I updated this blog. I haven’t had much to say … not that I could say in a public forum, anyway. I’ve been stressed out to the point of having trouble sleeping and have virtually no ability to focus on something like, say … writing.

School started for us last week. I transferred my three youngest kids to the grade school close to the high school where I teach. Our superintendent pushed through a measure last year that changed us from the block schedule to a seven-period day. But he also got it to where the high school starts class 45 minutes after the grade schools. This is asinine. We teach in a poverty-stricken inner city school with about a 90 percent free/reduced lunch rate. Think of this: second graders being dropped off at a bus stop to weave through whores, crack dealers and gang bangers to get into a (hopefully) empty apartment in the ghetto of OKC because her single mom is at work and her big brother is still in class at the high school. That’s the worst of it. My problem isn’t so bad. I simply have no one to watch my two youngest kids for the 45 minutes after they get out of school a block away from the high school.

This wouldn’t be such an issue if A) the above cursed superintendent hadn’t also killed the district’s latchkey program, or B) the principals at the high school had not led me along all summer making me believe there would be some provision for the young children of teachers. Instead, I’ve been told my little kids can’t be in the high school during my contracted time. I need an hour of babysitting, but no daycare will do this unless I pay for at least half a day’s care. Well, teachers at our school only got a step raise this year, which amounts to around $600 per year. That ain’t gonna pay for no daycare.

Had I known all this, you can bet your ass I would have taken the job offer to work in the brand new high school five minutes from home here in one of OKC’s biggest booming suburbs. I stayed because I like my students, because they need teachers who are willing to do a little extra for them, and now I’m sneaking my own kids in the back door of the school and hiding them while trying to find some daycare option that won’t break the bank. Ya see why I’ve been too pissed to blog?

Many, many parents are angry about this and there’s going to be an angry mob show up at the next school board meeting. I learned today that even some of the school board members weren’t aware the latchkey program had been axed. It’s no wonder the state’s secretary of education doesn’t like our super.

On the upside, my classes aren’t too bad. My worst, actually, is my AP Literature and Composition class, and it’s simply because it’s too big. I have 24 in there, and they’re smart kids, but very, very easily distracted. I answer a question for one and five independent conversations break out around the room. My regular classes are smaller and calmer. I don’t like having three preps, but I have to confess I prefer teaching American literature to British literature for the most part. Now, if I could teach American short stories and British novels, that would be great. Poe and Dickens, O’Henry and Orwell, Hawthorne and Beowulf. Yeah. I’m splitting the American lit prep with another teacher; I’ve done the first two weeks, a unit that covers American Indian literature, explorations and early colonial lit, then she’ll plan out The Crucible, something I love but have never taught. Then, I think, I get to plan some Hawthorne shorts. "Young Goodman Brown." One of my favorite pieces to teach.

I mentioned I haven’t written anything, right? Yeah. A couple of interviews for Horror World, but that’s it. Of course, it would help my mental state if I could sink into my werewolf world for at least a few hours, but it’s bringing myself to a point where I can just let go and do it. Writing is therapy, but you have to drag your ass to the couch for it.

5 responses to “Lighting the torches and sharpening the pitchforks”

  1. Your school didn’t get a budget cut? You actually got a pay raise? Congratulations!
    I hope you find a resolution for your kids soon. It sucks not having a safe alternative for them while you’re working.

    1. We had a 20 percent cut in the general budget, but salaries were safe this year. From what I’m hearing, most of the cuts will be in consumable supplies and we’ll use our current textbooks a little longer than planned. Next year could be another story, though.

  2. Kudos to you for staying with your students. Awesome! I can easily picture you doing this. Very cool!
    Is there a family/parent with whom your kids could go home with and you pick them up at the house? You could pay them 20 bucks a week or something. We did that one year.
    Or, maybe, if enough parents need the assistance, could you all pool your money to get some sort of sitter?
    Only trying to give you ideas. It is frustrating… I know.
    Now go write something or Carrie Jones will come down on you!

  3. YEah, I know the reason behind the later start for HS students….the research is there. Unfortunately, the research works for nuclear households only.

  4. Tough situation. Hopefully it will work itself out. Isn’t it amazing what crazy ideas get passed when nobody is looking?

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