Monday, April 27, 2009
If you want to take a scary and sometimes funny--if it weren't so real--trip through the day-to-day life of middle school teachers, then pick up a copy of No Teachers Left Behind by Hopeful But Frustrated Teacher (HBF Teacher).
Join Sixth Grade teachers Sandra Wyatt and Marcus Watts, Seventh Grade teachers Sonya Harte and Gail Jenkins, Eighth Grade teacher Angela Williams, and the other teachers, administrators and support staff at fictional Vilyon Middle School for a glimpse into the daily life of teachers in America's public school system.
Frustrated, by overpaid administrators whose decisions lack common sense and place the "needs" of students ahead of everything else--including necessary discipline and safety issues, the teaching staff at Vilyon Middle School can't even seem to get support from the support staff. The head custodian expects them to make sure unruly and unmanageable students don't destroy the bathrooms; while unsupportive parents point to teachers as the problem behind their children's lack of academic success.
Told through a series of scene excerpts, poems, and email exchanges, No Teachers Left Behind portrays some of the challenges facing American public schools today; and it leaves the reader wondering if these types of things occur in every school district in America.
My opinions on this book are mixed because I approach it both as a parent and as someone who volunteers in local public schools. I've watched while budget cuts have left teachers counting the number of photocopies they make each day, while perfectly useable equipment is replaced with newer models. I've heard the cries of large class sizes, but have heard stories of teachers not wanting parents in their classrooms.
The administrators are out of touch with reality in this book, and the majority of students and all the parents are portrayed in an unflattering light. Most of the students are more interested in making drug deals, getting their teachers suspended, and getting it on, than performing well academically; and the parents fault the teachers, not themselves, for any problems that arise.
The author's passion for this subject is evident. While I didn't think I would care for the format at first, I found it very easy to follow the various email communications and scenes to their shocking and tragic conclusion. The language is a bit crude in places, but mostly appropriate when used. The one thing I didn't quite understand was the cover art; but I thought the rolling prairie might be symbolic of the less complicated days of educating children in one-room classrooms, before government legislation and mandatory testing dictated how educators taught their students.
No Teachers Left Behind is one of those books that will leave you thinking about the state of things long after you've turned the last page.
Title: No Teachers Left Behind
Author: HBF Teacher
Publisher: 2nd Avenue Publishing
SRP: $13.95 (U.S.)