Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rules Are Rules

Yes, your students have made notable academic progress, and I trust in your ability to prove you are an effective teacher. I also see here you've received satisfactory classroom observation ratings as well. However, because you took time off for maternity leave, your attendance is unacceptable. Surely you understand that as superintendent of the special ed district, I cannot recommend you for tenure status. I see the look you're giving me, and I don't appreciate it. I'll do you the courtesy of chalking that up to your hormones, which I'm sure are running rampant. I'm no expert on postpartum women, but I did at one time own a miniature daschund who gave birth to a litter of unexpected puppies. We didn't even know she was pregnant, so you could imagine my surprise. Either way, it wasn't long before my 2 bedroom co-op was over run with six yapping puppies, all making an absolute mess of the place. Naturally, I had to give them all away. Shiloh, the daschund, went berserk, howling for days. I didn't hold it against her though, what with her hormones raging as they were, hijacking our beloved Shiloh and reducing her to nothing more than a disobedient mutt. 

So I get where you're coming from, I do. I'm not heartless! But rules are rules, and I'll remind you that your special ed students were left to fend for themselves in your absence. While you were recovering from your self-imposed condition, Henry Walker did nothing but weep all day, every day. David Flushins became violent and took to urinating in the potted plants at recess. And Julia Pennet actually stopped reading altogether, her academic skills screeching to a grinding halt. This went on for six weeks while you were on vacation. Yes, the substitute teacher was present, and met all the Board of Ed's requirements to fill in (a pulse and no criminal record). But still, your students struggled. 


It is precisely for this reason that we encourage our teachers to plan their weddings, pregnancies, personal engagements, what have you, during the summer break. Which brings me to another area of concern regarding your status. I see here you've also put in a request for intermittent days off for, hold on let me find it here in your file...yes, for "care of a sick child." I'm sorry, but after already taking a six week vacation this school year, I have to say you're pushing your luck asking for even more time! You can't take a personal day each and every occasion your kid has the sniffles. Could you imagine? 


Let me share an invaluable piece of advice that should bring a lot of this gray area into focus for you. Before making any personal decision in your life (Should my husband and I try for a baby? Should I get to the dentist for that route canal? Should I go to my grandmother's funeral?), ask yourself "how will this decision affect my students?" Should clear things right up for you.


Now, if you still insist on treating your child's medical condition, there are several ways to tackle this, the most obvious one being that you simply have your nanny go in your place. You don't have a nanny? How is that possible? See, now the Board of Ed has to accommodate you taking time off because you've mismanaged your money and "cannot afford" childcare. Where, oh where, have your paychecks gone? You and I both know teachers have it pretty cushy in terms of salary. Nobody held a gun to your head and required you to spend so much of your own money on your classroom. After all, the Teacher's Reimbursement Fund does provide you with a $19 supply stipend, in addition to half a ream of paper, a pack of number three pencils, and a ziplock baggie of lightly used scotch tape. What other supplies do you need?


Anyway, back to your sick child, your other alternative is to schedule these appointments for after 3:00, when the school day is finished. What do you mean you have to go all the way to Manhattan to see a specialist? Well, then I would suggest seeking a second opinion.  I've seen subway ads for a Nigerian witch doctor down on Metropolitan Avenue, who I'm sure could treat your baby after 3:00. I believe his name is Medicine Man Matimbe, or something of the sort. You can Google him. Or look for his ad on the F train.


Well, I think that wraps up your tenure review. Oh, before I forget, please sign this document. It's a standard agreement just saying you won't take legal action against the Board of Ed, you understand your rights as a teacher, yada, yada, yada. Good luck with the rest of your school year! And as I'm sure you've gathered, my door is always open should you ever need to discuss anything. After 3:00, of course.

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