Dead mice, no parking

Why do teachers go nuts and quit? Mimi explains at It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages:

If one more person tells me to do it “for the kids”, I might throw a kid at them. Seriously. Stop playing on our good intentions and altruistic dedication to the future and treat us like the professionals you so desperately claim you want us to be. It just seems at times as if this job teeters on the brink of being inhumane.

I thought it was bad enough that I occasionally have to stomp my feet while peeing (to scare the mice away…really). ( I rationalize that it’s good for my thighs.)

Then I thought we had hit rock bottom when the administration took no sort of stance after teachers routinely had their personal property stolen out of their locked classrooms.

When I found a dead mouse in the middle of my rug (with several other LIVE mice feasting on the corpse) at 7:30 a.m., I thought, “This is it…this is as low as we can go. What else can be expected of me?”

Then the administration took away teachers’ parking spots.

About Joanne


  1. I taught for 17 1/2 years before finally quitting three years ago- I was at the point of quitting or becoming homicidal… My advice to ALL teachers is to GET THE HECK OUT OF TEACHING!! The real world is wonderful- the pay is better, the stress lower, the hours are shorter, and the people you work for ADMIRE and CELEBRATE competence and creativity. I have made it my mission in life to find every education student I can and talk them out of going into a profession with absolutely no future.

    Of course, if you do quit, you should go through educational rehab- it is grueling, but worth the effort.

  2. Fuzzy, you should have quit 17.5 years ago. And abandon your “mission” before you ruin somebody’s life.

  3. Walter_E_Wallis says:

    There are actually frustrations in other lines of work too – that is why I have not drawn a paycheck since August 1975. If you won’t not be put upon, you will be put upon.

  4. I’m currently in my 16th year of teaching and I would not encourage anyone to take it up.

    Too much disrespect from politicians and know it all “reformers” who are only out to line their pockets at schoolchildren’s expenses.

  5. I read the original post, as well as a number of responses, and those posted here. Is everyone missing the irony here?

    I will grant that the loss of parking is simply the straw that broke the camel’s back (and since I have to pay to park .5 mile away from my job, well perhaps I lack sympathy). But as we recite the horrors of the situation of teaching (and poor conditions are frequently abetted by stupid decisions–like locking people out of the building when they arrive too early), isn’t anyone going to notice that these are the same buildings and neighborhoods where we expect children to go to school (and live)? Yes, it absolutely sucks that Mimi is afraid of creatures invading the teacher’s bathroom. But she doesn’t have to use the student bathrooms–where the basic differences generally have to do with lack of niceties such as doors and toilet paper. I know that parking at most schools is poor as a general rule–even here in the midwest where there is a little more space. I know this because as a parent and substitute teacher I have always been even lower on the parking pecking order than teachers.

    I recall the year that the district changed my son’s IEP placement mid year. When he changed schools it took about a three month fight to get transportation reinstated. The couldn’t see that even though his disability was typified by poor judgement and difficulty with relationships this might affect his ability to walk .8 mile, crossing a major business thoroughfare through an infamous strip known for hookers and pushers. I felt like suggesting that just once they get a teacher to park at my house and walk to school.

    In my district the response to unsupervised kids arriving too early is to lock them out of the building. Out of a concern for safety, they increase risk. I have had some real go-arounds with transportation over the years about safety at the bus stops in the early morning dark. Even when they are on school property and involve violation of school policies, their stance has always been that when the kid is off the bus, that’s the parent’s concern.

  6. Margo/Mom:

    You can probably thank trial lawyers for many of the irrational safety measures in school districts these days, but that’s not to let stupid and incompetent administrators off the hook. I’d rather spend a day in my classroom with the kids than one hour in a meeting with educators, i.e., administrators. It’s being with the kids that redeems teaching for me. One caveat, however: If you don’t have a sense of humor, don’t go into teaching.

  7. M/M, you seriously expect the school to be responsible for your child while he waits for the bus in the morning in his own neighborhood? Seriously?

  8. anna:

    I seriously expect schools to see themselves as a part of the neighborhood, just like the rest of us–not a group of fortressed missionaries. I also expect them to enforce school rules on their property (even if the infractions occur outside of official school hours), and to use appropriate good sense when they see trouble. Basically, I expect them to act like they are adults working with children. I expect them to consider the safety of children when they select the location of bus stops and distance from children’s homes. I expect them to care when they hear about ongoing problems at a bus stop.

    Once, my son got off the school bus, before it left school, to avoid a fight. The bus driver wasn’t concerned–after all she had a schedule to keep. The school didn’t notice. When I arrived to pick him up at the afterschool program they told me he had never arrived. We ended up calling the police–after transportation had no clue what had happened and couldn’t reach the driver. Even though there were people at school (there was a sport program going on), the people who answer phones leave when the last bell rings. The police had to send a car with someone to knock on the doors. Someone finally got the principal’s cell phone number. We pieced together the story that he had gotten off the bus. Everyone who saw him thought that he had called home, or something. What he did was try to walk home. He got lost. He ended up at the library, where he was overlooked until they were closing and someone let him use the phone to call home. But it was nobody’s actual JOB to be concerned, or, heaven knows, to do anything.

  9. >>> I expect them to care when they hear about ongoing problems at a >>> bus stop.

    I expect parents to care when they hear that there are ongoing problems with their children at the neighborhood bus stop, assuming that the bus stop is in the neighborhood and not at the school itself. I expect the school to supervise kids at school, and parents to supervise children when they aren’t at school. I can’t understand why this would be controversial!

    Why would you expect the school to deal with a bus stop problem, but not expect yourself as a parent to walk down to the bus stop with your child and deal with it yourself? Do you expect the school to mediate fights between neighborhood kids after school too?

    Ditto for problems that occur on school grounds outside school hours. I don’t understand why school staff, who aren’t working then, should have much of anything to do with that. Sounds like a problem for parents or police to me. Where are you when your child is exposed to these problems, and why are you expecting the school staff to take time after hours to deal with your parenting issue?

    I don’t understand why neighborhood problems, occurring off school grounds or after school hours, would be the job of the school to fix. I understand that sometimes a lack of parenting or community supports requires the school to get involved in neighborhood problems that spill over into the school, but I see that as the school stepping up to the plate and going way above and beyond what is required, and I’m not thrilled about my tax dollars being spent on that. I certainly can’t understand why a parent would expect that as a matter of course.

    Obviously your son should not have been allowed off the bus, the bus driver should be held responsible, and the police should find the kid. That’s a no brainer. That’s different from your other points though — that occurred while the transportation company had responsibility for your child, not when you did.

  10. anna:

    In my district many, although not all, bus stops are located at schools. Every one of these schools has a sign out front declaring that it is a drug free and weapon free zone. That doesn’t mean that it is. If I see evidence of drugs, weapons, tobacco or alcohol use by folks who are at or near that stop in the morning when my kids are there, I don’t think it is unreasonable to make a phone call to someone in the employ of the district for some assistance. Of course, finding out who is a problem. Transportation doesn’t want to hear it because it isn’t ON a bus. The school doesn’t want to hear it because it is happening before school starts.

    In fact, one school year when my daughter was in middle school, her bus left from the nearest elementary school after the time that I had to leave to get my son to a bus stop at another elementary school and then go to work. She felt safer if I dropped her off at the school, rather than waiting until after I left and then walking. The school principal called HER principal to ask that she not get there so early because they didn’t want to be responsible “if something happened” while she was waiting on the school’s front steps for her bus. (we “solved” the problem by changing her to a bus route closer to my job with a time that allowed me to both drop my son and get to work on time).

    While you recognize that it’s a no brainer that the transportation company (and in fact MOST of our district buses are district owned and the drivers are district employees) was responsible for “allowing” my son off the bus–well, they don’t agree. Their point of view is he just “got off.” They also share your point of view about “neighborhood problems that spill over into the school,” which is a really effective means of denying any role or responsibility to or for the community that schools are a part of.

    But again–back to the original posting. Why is there so great an outrage that teachers have to put up with lousy conditions while kids are just expected to live in those same conditions (and their parents to run interference)? If the neighborhood is unsafe for teachers to park their cars–maybe we should be more concerned about the safety of the kids in that same neighborhood.

  11. Margo,

    I don’t see the outrage for teachers and the lack of concern for kids that you are seeing in the previous posts.

    I see people evaluating whether particular job conditions make a job too unpleasant to do, especially considering that a good teacher probably has choices about where to teach, assuming she wants to keep teaching at all.

    Even if one IS outraged about bad conditions for students at schools, it doesn’t mean that the issue of teacher turnover disappears. It may be perverse that teachers often have choices that the students don’t have, but it’s not ironic that we would consider those choices in evaluating the work conditions that drive teachers away.

    I doubt the students would be harmed by the teachers’ having parking passes, secure locations for their personal belongings, and bathrooms and classes without mice, and they’d benefit because teachers would be more likely to continue teaching at the school. There’s really no irony in being concerned about teachers.

  12. I agree that we should be concerned about the safety of kids in the neighborhood.

    I don’t agree that the schools are responsible for tackling that problem.

    The schools can control dead mice in their building, and they should. They can’t control alcohol and weapon use on the streets around their buildings. There’s no sense in waiting until crime is eliminated to take care of the dead mice.

  13. Schools are not babysitters (well, at least not outside of normal class hours). Students should be off campus after hours when nobody is there to supervise them. My kid attends another school in the district and walks to the one at which I teach in the afternoon. In the beginning of the year, before the perm subs knew her, she was asked to leave several times and had to explain she was meeting me and was under my supervision. I see nothing wrong with this.

    Schools are also not law enforcement agencies. Would it surprise you to know that, in fact, teachers are assaulted on a regular basis and charges are rarely filed? If you see someone brandishing weapons or drugs near or at a school, call the police. They are the law enforcement agency. What are we supposed to do? It’s not like we have weapons, badges, or the training to run down criminals.

    I love teaching, but I warn people off it all the time unless they have some other means of financial support.

  14. Exactly. You see drug, alcohol, or weapon use and you call… the school system? Not the police?

    Your work schedule makes you unable to supervise your child before school starts, and you think that the school should pick up the slack and watch your kid? It’s not your responsibility as a parent to make some other arrangements?

    If you really want the school to be running down criminals and babysitting kids in the morning before school even starts, are you willing to pay extra tax so the school can hire police and babysitters to do this?

  15. Preach it, Anna. According to the California Ed Code, I think teachers are responsible for their students whenever they leave class, and if it’s the last period of the day, they’re responsible until the kids get home. That can’t be right, but I heard something of the sort in ed classes. I hope it’s not right.

  16. If the school and its surrounding neighborhood are that unsafe, then why on earth are you sending your children there?

    The high school my kids are zoned to attend has a problem with gangs, so there’s no way I’m going to enroll them in it. It’s as simple as that. I’m not going to put them in an unsafe environment and then whine about the result.

  17. CW:

    That’s WHY they were riding two different buses from two different locations.

    But again–there is complete avoidance across the board of the issue that I was raising, which is why are we MORE concerned about the work conditions of teachers than we are about the same conditions applied to children?

  18. We are concerned with both, but the effect of poor working conditions leads to a downward spiral at schools. Again and again I read the assertion that poorly run schools lose good teachers to affluent schools in the suburbs. The teachers, as educated adults with useful skills, can choose to change jobs. When they do, the school loses their skills, and must hire new teachers, who are not necessarily good teachers. Even if they are good teachers, it takes time for an employee to learn the ins and outs of any workplace and team.

    The school also loses the input of teachers who might be able to pressure the system to change. The lack of parking is a huge issue, I would assume, especially as the bulk of the teaching workforce is female. I’ve lived in several cities. Beyond a certain level of danger, there is no amount of money which could compensate for the daily risk a lone female, carrying papers and a purse, would run, in trying to get to her car.

    Lack of bathrooms, mice, other pests, a lack of respect, are also factors, of course, but the chance of being physically harmed, or robbed, is a huge disincentive.

  19. Margo, no one here, as near as I can tell, is indifferent to the plight of kids at schools in bad condition; the experience of students just isn’t the topic of this particular thread. This thread is about bad working conditions that drive TEACHERS out.

    I’m sure if you want to post a link about crappy conditions for kids, we’d talk about that.

    But there’s probably a link between the two. A school that won’t improve conditions for the people who can choose to leave and go elsewhere sure as heck isn’t going to improve conditions for students who have no other choice.