Monday, November 15, 2010


That's it. I reached some sort of saturation point. I thought I was going to have to poke my eyes in order to relieve the pain of this afternoon's faculty senate meeting where 20 people were trapped at a conference table while the chair drifted off into minutiae over procedure. People, rule #1 of meetings containing more than 3 people is DON'T TRY TO WRITE POLICY OR PROCEDURES. Useless waste of my time (and the chair was 10 minutes late to start the meeting!).

Then, I fly home to release the hound and run him around before I summon up all my courage and attend the Parent Advisory Board meeting at O's elementary school. It was as bad as I expected. The cuts to the school budget and the addition of 80 kids to the school have left everyone frazzled and the discussion was raw. The PAB is trying to plug the holes of left by the budget readjustment plan and, frankly, we can't. We can't raise money to replace the swings, fund a bus for a field trip for every class, supplement the art teacher's whopping $75 supply budget, pay teachers to run after school programs, and fund the music program. It is bleak. Teachers fear for their jobs and don't feel like they can ask for help and all the PAB can think to do it to desperately try to raise them some funds.

There was much more to my day but it is too depressing to record. It has all just left me feeling rather hopeless about it all...about my students, my colleagues, my kids' schools, my ability to work on my book. Really, I don't feel like I can take the time to write, let alone think.

And then there is Detroit... Detroit Public Schools has asked UMD to partner with them on a Teaching American History Grant. I've been involved in two for other school districts and I'd be happy to be involved in this one, but there is no one on the UMD side able to lead it. So, I should do it. The school system needs it -- only something like 9% of social studies teachers in the district had any history classes as undergraduates, yet most teach history. But where is the energy for that supposed to come from? Where can I find the energy to deal with yet another fucked up bureaucracy?


Widgeon said...

Hi Georgina, V. here. I am giving you permission to say no to the TAH grant. Not because you wouldn't be great at it, or that it wouldn't help a subset of interested teachers do a better job. But because you owe it to yourself and your kids not to take on too much, and this sounds quite possibly like too much.

Zoe the Wonder Dog said...

Oops. I said yes. But I promise, I will use it as an explanation for why I'm opting out of everything other than the most minimal discipline duties and my obligation to the Women in Learning and Leadership program (but I get course releases for the latter, so that works out well).

Also, I just made arrangements (that I think will be approved) to take F12 off from teaching. I hope to be finishing the book at that point!

Anyway, I know that the Teaching American History project will be a slog, but SE Michigan is a rough place right now and the schools are a disaster. And I do think we can help. I don't have many skills, but I can write grants and I sure as hell can teach history and methodology to those in the trenches. So I will take on the organizational duties that are needed to make that happen.

And I will never sit in another navel-gazing faculty senate meeting again.