I haven’t written for weeks. I’ve had a lot to talk about. Too much, and sometimes I don’t know what would be wise to share here.
The biggest news is that I may not teach here in this town again next year. At the middle school they are changing the types of students I would teach. They would all be “intervention” students. That would mean nothing but students who are doing very poorly academically, or students who cannot speak English yet. None of the typical students would have the opportunity to take art. I find so many things wrong with this, not the least of which is that my opinion was never asked. The Principal simply told me that this is the plan they are putting before the school board. He also has made it clear on a number of occasions that he wants art to be a fun sequence of projects that form a survey of art techniques, content standards be damned. Essentially, give the kids an easy A.
A special ed aide at the high school suggests that this might even be illegal, combining all of one type of student into classes and excluding others. I can see how.
First, it may ignore Section 504 law and the concept of Least Restrictive Environment. I’m thinking that the school calls a student “intervention” when they cannot or will not go through the lengthy process of establishing Special Education status to a student and providing an IEP.
Second, it sends all the ESL students into the same class. Sure, I’d be teaching in English, but the students would all be conversing amongst themselves in Spanish. This does not contribute to the learning of English.
Third, I have enough behavior problems in my largest class without this kind of complication. I could end up with up to 27 individual behavioral problems for each period. I was not offered more money to teach solely special students.
Fourth, I want to teach the standards. Art is so much more than making fun things. I want to challenge their minds, help them see connections, know how art affects the whole world. This Principal does not support that. He wants broad, not deep.
Fifth, what about the students who want art but could not take it any more because they are doing fine academically? What kind of sense does it make that they could not take art? How would they get the benefits that visual arts can give them? There might be a music class they can take next year, maybe.
Ah, well. The drive is getting pretty exhausting, not to mention gas prices and wear and tear on my car. I called the school where I worked last year part time, and they may have me back full time next year. I need to call the Principal again in June. In the mean time, I will look around.
More musings soon.