We completely ran out of paper at my school today, requiring me to ration the small stockpile I had throughout the day to make sure I had enough lesson packets for my students. This is far from the first time this has happened. But when I saw the principal this morning he seemed completely puzzled by the paper shortage, which is unusual. There was a rumor going around that he thought a disgruntled former employee had stolen the boxes after they were delivered and sitting outside. Stranger things have happened at this school.
During a discussion in my grad class last night, a colleague made the comment that many corps members in our region are propping up struggling schools, like mine, that might be meant to fall. Despite the millions of comments and observations on charter schools I’ve read and heard in the past two years, this stuck out. We are working in chaotic, unstructured environments where there’s never enough of anything, and kids don’t get the help they need- not to mention the fact that employees get treated like crap, and teacher turnover is, of course, ridiculously high. Most of the time I reassure myself that my crazy-long workdays help keep my school running. But what if that’s not really in everyone’s best interest? There are plenty of public school options for my students. They’re not perfect, I’m sure, but they have supplies. Libraries. Gymnasiums. Substitute teachers. Maybe even behavior management systems or reliable schedules. Paper.
What would happen if the teachers who shoulder all the extra responsibilities in charter schools (those who do incredible amounts more than me, and of course not just TFAers) stepped back? And would it be better for everyone in the long run?