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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  J. Aaron Paciulli
Bio: J. Aaron Paciulli
Date:  March 24, 2011
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Education Reform? NOT Hot for Teacher
"They hate you at home and they hit you at school. They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool. 'Til you're so f*ing crazy you can't follow their rules." - John Lennon

I had the supreme misfortune this week of viewing a short video by someone called Taylor Mali, who was apparently a teacher. In short, the video – meant to be witty – was a profane diatribe that supposedly happened as a result of someone asking this Mali character “how much do you make?” What resulted from this probably fictional interaction was a tsunami of vitriol on the martyr complex surrounding most teachers in our school systems. This is most often parroted by those who have been in the job too long and have gone beyond giving a damn about our kids.

Having been a guest speaker in literally hundreds of classrooms, equaling thousands of hours over 8 years, I have seen the best and the worst of this all too important profession in our society. Further, I was a counselor in one of the most affluent school districts in Upstate New York in the mid 90’s – Brighton, NY – and it was an abomination of indifference to young people. Grades were all that mattered…no matter who ended up in rehab…or the morgue.

As there are always too many who assail our educational system, let me give some suggestions in the spirit of tough love:

1) First and foremost, tenure must be abolished everywhere and in all circumstances. No free ride. You suck and you’re out.

2) Teachers are evaluated every year by a student-elected representative from each teacher’s class as well as an equal number of impartial grad students in education from local or nearby colleges.

3) No teacher salaries. A very large hourly wage – certainly much larger than that of the overweight, beer-bellied auto workers – and no benefits will be provided by the District. All health benefits and any others will be paid for by the teacher in private accounts. And raises are on merit ONLY.

4) No contracts. NONE.

5) Overtime and extracurricular responsibilities are time and a half.

6) Minimal sick time and no vacation is accrued. You have the entire summer off. Deal with it. Oh, and you’re not paid for that.

7) All interactions with a student and a counselor, nurse or school mental health professional are private. If you don’t really care to start with, don’t try to pretend now.

8) No “Teachers Lounge”. NONE. ANYWHERE. If you could have witnessed the wholesale cruelness and character assassinations I have, you would home school your kids in a second. (SPECIAL NOTE: I was present in a teachers’ lounge one day shortly after two students were killed by a train. Apparently they were walking by a railroad track and the girl’s foot got caught and here boyfriend tried to free her. He couldn’t get her out, they panicked, and he stayed with her while they were both killed. In this lounge days after, one middle aged science teacher said, “Well, their grades weren’t that good, anyway.”)

9) No unions for any reason. If there is an organized strike, you’re all fired with no possibility to qualify for unemployment.

10) No teacher will be held responsible for what it takes to discipline uncooperative, bullying or “difficult” students. Parents will be required to sign a non-litigation agreement before a young person is admitted.

Now before anyone begins let me first say I’m not the least concerned with the reader’s opinion about this. Normally, it will come from a teacher saying, “You don’t know what it’s like.” Yeah I do. Having had to deal with suicidal students, drug addicted students and kids whose mega-salaried moms wanted to send them to a group home simply because of the way the kids dressed, I don’t give a rat’s ass about some egomaniac with a Master’s Degree and a resentment. The above is meant to weed out those who are not passionate about their job and about young people.

When it comes to young people in this country – and considering what they have turned into over the past 20 years – teaching must be more than a job. If you only see it as a job, then allow me to use my favorite quote from G. Gordon Liddy: “Lock yourself in a room with a Luger and do the right thing.”

But not to be pigeonholed into being entirely anti-teacher, allow me some other things that must occur at the same time as the above:

1) The complete abolition of all Boards of Education. Nobody gives a damn about what your control-freak, uppity parents think. Nor does anyone have a spare rat’s ass to give about the opinions of the clergy, who probably diddled your kid at some point. The only reason – ONLY reason – anyone gets involved with a Board of Education is for being noticed and to run for office in the future. Period.

2) Anyone appointed as Superintendent of Schools should have at least 10 years experience running a business or corporation. Keep your freakin’ nose out of the classroom and just kiss the ass of the State and run the damn system. No former teachers.

3) State mandated curricula should play second fiddle to what our now fully committed teaching staff deem beneficial to their students. (This would be the time that local systems look into private, corporate funding for their schools. Screw the State.)

4) No parent/teacher conferences. Talk to your kids. If they’re just property to you, or you’re making them live out the life you never had, get a divorce or see the above G. Gordon Liddy comment.

5) No school charity drives. False caring is much, much worse than outright hostility.

6) All Physical Education teachers will be voluntary, preferably felons on community service. Hell, it’s the same damn thing.

7) The school system should make a decision to decline from inclusion in any nomination to the Teacher of the Year awards. A true teacher’s reward is blood, sweat and tears. Just like us poor bastards out here.

8) Of growing importance is the issue of school safety. Particularly in inner-city schools you often see police officers, or security personnel, stationed in the halls. I propose, if you really are serious about safety, that at-risk schools employ the services of one Marine officer. ONE. Not one per floor of the school….one for the school. It will all be over with in short order. Said officer could volunteer for this duty in exchange for credit – if a cadet – or as points toward promotion. Or, even better, they should be allowed a recruiting office in the building. Thus, in turn, he could enlist volunteer helpers. No money at all required for this. One Marine, folks. It’s all over with.

9) I cannot stress enough the total non-involvement of the so-called “community” in the operations of the school. As we have already set up the means to employ committed – and only committed – teachers and given the freedom to use their talents – again, worth any amount of inconvenience or money to any talented professional – we are in a position to leave the parenting to the parents and the genuine learning to the committed, caring teaching staff, in a safe environment.

10) To conclude, I’m sure there are a lot of intellectuals (read: soul-less) who can poke holes in this. I already see them. But let me leave you with this:

WHAT WE GOT AIN’T WORKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There can be no freedom without discipline. And there can be no discipline without motivation. And, going back to freedom, with discipline and motivation you EARN it. Nothing is free.

J. Aaron Paciulli
The New Elsewhere

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Biography - J. Aaron Paciulli

J. Aaron Paciulli is a graduate of one of the most prestigious music colleges in the US, and he holds a Master's Degree in Linguistics and Political Science. An accomplished jazz musician for more than 30 years, he has been featured in numerous studio recording sessions and rock bands, particularly in NYC, Albany, NY and Boston, MA, performing as drummer, bassist or keyboardist. Currently, Paciulli is a professional development consultant working for non-profit organizations and private businesses.

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