Here in Huntsville, the teachers and staff of our district, most of whom have given their time, their money, their very lives for our schools, are being systematically insulted, embarrassed, bullied, and abused on a daily basis.
They are being told that they are not dedicated. They are being told that anyone can do their jobs. They are being labeled as rude, inconsiderate, hostile, and insubordinate.
They are being treated like children who are incapable of thinking for themselves.
They are being hit, spat upon, bitten, and threatened by both students and their supervisors. They are being hit, spat upon, bitten and threatened by students, and their supervisors are ignoring the issues of safety and are, in fact, threatening the teachers jobs if they report it.
And they feel like they are completely and totally alone in this.
They have difficulty knowing whom they can trust.
They have a tough time trusting each other because of the district’s policy to pit teacher against teacher in test scores. Star Test results have become a zero sum game to the superintendent. He’s convinced that there can only be one winner. If you’re not number one in your grade, you’re a loser.
They can’t trust their principals because they tend to be the one carrying out the abuse. People who are themselves being abused by their supervisors often become abusers in turn. This is regularly happening in Huntsville. Principals who are looking to complete just one or two more years before they can retire, are doing whatever they can to let the shit flow down hill. (I’m please to say that this isn’t the case with every principal, but it is the case with many of them.)
This zero sum game has hit them, too. They’re being told that if their test scores in reading and math aren’t “the best in the district” then their successes are irrelevant.
They can’t trust their professional organizations because the representatives of that organization are regularly taking a go-along, get-along approach with the district leadership on issues such as reinstating scale raises, and school turn-around models.
They certainly can’t trust the feckless board of education that rubber stamps every abusive action the bully of a superintendent wishes to enact.
Some of them even celebrate the our educators leaving.
A zero sum game hurts everyone. But that’s what Wardynski wants: he wants everyone to hurt and to quit. So far 165 teacher and staff have decided, enough is enough, and have either announced their retirement or just walked away.
One-hundred and sixty-five since September 4, 2012.
If we don’t do something now, that number will increase by a factor of five at the end of this year.
And you and I as parents are the only ones who can do anything at all to make this better.
If you think this isn’t happening at your child’s school, you are deluding yourself. This abuse is happening everywhere in this district because abusing others is all that our insecure, immature superintendent seems to be good at.
If you care about your child’s education, if you care about living in a town that values education, please consider doing at least one of the follow:
- Talk to your child’s teachers, support staff, and aides in person. Tell them that you can’t believe the pressure that they must be working under and that you’re sorry they’re facing it. If this is the first time you’ve spoken to them this year, don’t expect them to open up to you first. They can’t. But don’t let that drive you away.
- Tell them how much you appreciate what they have done for your child this year. Be genuine and specific. You won’t believe how long it has been since they’ve heard a simple thank you.
- Take them a small snack, or if you see them out in town, take an opportunity to pay it forward. Celebrate the gifts that they have given your children publicly and loudly.
- Call and write their principal, and tell the him or her how much you appreciate the work that your child’s teachers have done for your child. Be specific. If you know that they have gone beyond their jobs descriptions (believe me, they have), let the principal know.
- Call and write your school board member. Tell them about how hard your teachers, support staff, and aides are working. Ask them to please do more to support them and to end the hostile working environment they have allowed to grow.
- I would suggest you write Dr. Wardynski, but honestly, he doesn’t care. Communicating with parents is nothing but a hassle to him. You would be wasting your time.
- Call and write your State School Board member about the abuse that you see for yourself here in our district. You may contact Mary Scott Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 531-1312.
- Talk to your child. Ask him or her about school and what’s happening. Trust me, as much as we adults sometimes think we are shielding our kids from harsh realities of life, we aren’t. Children always know. Always.
It’s time to stand up for the people who are willing to lay down their lives for our kids.
Do It Now. Please. Otherwise you’ll likely soon find your child in an empty classroom on the losing end of this zero sum game.