Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I spent several years at a charter school in Texas, a pretty high-performing one, according to the numbers.  When I would tell people where I worked, their eyes would widen and they'd say, "Oh, I hear those are GREAT schools!"  Some would tell me how they had a friend or neighbor whose child went there, and how well he or she was doing now.  The implication was that the local public school wasn't cutting it and that finally, young Faruk was getting the education he deserved.

I'd usually smile and nod, especially during my first year.  But as time went on, I'd listen mutely and change the conversation.  Towards the end of my time at this TCS (Texas Charter School), I'd interrupt them and say no, they were wrong.  These were not good schools.  They were such bad schools, I'd say, that only an insane person would want to work there.  I couldn't wait to leave.

I thought when I left, that I was done with disorganized schools where no one really cares about the student or what he or she is learning.  Everyone paid lip service to the nebulous "education goals" that the institution had, while spending time in CYA mode and trying to further their climb up the career ladder.  I was SO done with schools that passed kids on who could barely read, who were horribly disorganized, who wasted taxpayer on textbooks they crammed into a back closet, and who allowed students to blatantly cheat on standardized tests because turning them in meant dealing with parents and TEA.  This school wants TEA to stay as far away as it can.

But then I took at job in a public school district nearby, because nothing could be worse than the school I came from, right?

Ever read "Heart of Darkness"?  You should, because it's a good read, and mentioning it makes people think you're smart and literate.  It's a story about greed, apathy, business and political corruption.

"The horror - the horror!"

Working in a public school is just as horrifying, with just as much greed, apathy and corruption as Conrad described, but with fewer rivets on the ground.

So, are you ready for a ride down the Congo?