Saturday, November 6, 2010
No Longer a Rat in a Cage
On Friday I was lounging around the house in my pajamas and I got an email from a friend inviting me to lunch. I responded that I was still in pj's, but could meet her by 12:15. She emailed back and told me I'd have to get dressed. With the promise of a restaurant meal and good company, I was motivated to get dressed and drive the mile into town.
Before I retired I ate lunch out several times a week. Now I rarely do. My friends are still working and it is difficult for them to schedule in advance, and it is difficult for me to motivate myself to get out of the house. Usually my lunch dates are limited to a meal at the bowling alley for the twice monthly Lion's Club meetings.
Driving into town to meet my friend I started to feel stressed. Since I retired stress is a rare event. I realized that I was stressing about where we would go to lunch. Hermiston has very few dining options. How fortunate am I that the only thing I have to worry about is where to eat lunch!
Over lunch we talked a little about the current state of education and the challenges that our district faces. My friend shared some of her ongoing projects and we brainstormed approaches to some of the barriers to success. As I frequently have since I retired, I felt a sense of relief that I no longer have to deal with the bullshit of public education. I don't have to attend committee meetings, where the outcomes are predetermined, to explore changes to whatever is currently in disfavor by the higher authority. I don't have to implement the predetermined changes recommended by the committee and pretend that I believe it is the best thing for students. I don't have to reassure teachers that everything will be okay, when I have serious doubts that it will be. I don't have to pretend to respect district leaders who have done nothing to earn respect. I don't have to be a part of the big lie.
My heart aches for my friends who are still trapped in the system. There was a time that I was proud to be a part of the school leadership. I believed that we were all working together in a collaborative effort to improve our schools, to serve our students, to provide the best opportunities for our kids that we could. We respected each others opinions, expected everyone to participate and we worked long and hard to make a difference for kids. We worked in an environment of trust. I don't see that now, but, almost all of the administrators from the previous administration are gone. Time will tell if this top down, militaristic approach to school management has really improved outcomes for students.
I am grateful that I don't have to work in an environment where the expectation is that we pretend that everything is wonderful and we stab each other in the back. Lyrics from a Smashing Pumpkins song are stuck in my head "despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage." I am grateful that this rat is free to worry only about what to eat for dinner!
This post isn't really in the spirit of the theme of this blog. For that I apologise. Lately, especially following the recent elections, I'm more angry than grateful. Perhaps I need a blog just to rant about the things that irritate me. This blog may have run it's course. I find myself writing more on my other blog, Benchmark 60. Is it time to let this one fade away? What do you think?