CPS Teachers: Sure Size Matters--but so do Good Teachers

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I feel for the Chicago Public School Teachers…35 kids in an open lot is crazy…35 kids in the confines of a classroom is just asking for trouble.  Maybe that’s why I enjoyed teaching preschoolers.  State Law proclaimed I could never have more than ten in my charge at once.

But I disagree with their sour grapes regarding not laying off the bad apples before letting the newbies go.  A good teacher is a good teacher regardless of tenure.  And, by the same token a bad egg is a bad egg…if it’s been rotten for thirty-some years, chances are it’s only going to get worse after it’s expiration date.  Why should the kid suffer–even if he/she is an ungrateful, hyperactive brat?

CPS teachers should be grateful for the complete incompetency a Ron Huberman brings to the table…they should count their lucky stars Principal Manpants isn’t calling the shots at their respective schools.

As the “Freak Flag” took it’s final descent down the pole on the last day of the school year at WWJD Catholic Elementary School this June, Principal Mary Manpants cut the staff with one swipe of her sharp sword.  She’d been at the helm for two long school years, ever since taking over the reigns from Principal Mary Sunshine.

I only wish I would have started a pool guessing when the head lopping would begin.  Although, after her first year of witnessing the barrel of bad apples for herself…the untimely “retirement” of the two essential teachers was really a given.  Word has it that Butch MacGillicuddy and her life-partner Slowdraw McGraw have hit the beaches of Florida. 

The Blue Ribbon Palace can now look forward to churning out alumni that actually exercise two days a week in addition to giving their creative side a chance to blossom during an actual arts and crafts class.  My solemn prayer is that McGraw left behind the directions for the ten-year-old-industrial-sized kiln in the back room that had yet to be used since her departure to the Sunshine State.

One hundred and some kids recently departed the school as proud graduates of the 2010 class…sadly, one hundred and some parents were not foolish enough to enroll their preschoolers in the kindergarten class of potential 2019 students.  Over the past five years enrollment has been on the decline.  Administrators will blame the economy…as a parent who experienced the freakshow firsthand, I point to the mediocre math/english programs.

Needless to say, Principal Manpants delivered the bad news via newsletter–a few positions were eliminated due to “retirement”…a few were shuffled around to other grades…and some of the real stinkers were sent to positions more suitable to their “skills”.

I personally had Senorita Shushenheimer and Ms. Leftwinger on my list of potential “heave-ho-ers” once Manpants witnessed firsthand what they brought to the table.

Senorita Shushenheimer loved to shush the children…even more enjoyable than shushing was the sound of her droning voice…and she loved, loved, loved to amplify it via microphone…but she had a knack of getting a little too close to the base…and while shushing and yapping the microphone would more often than not make that sound–you know the sound–more annoying than the shush…more annoying than the drone…more annoying than nails on a chalkboard…it would make that loud pitched sound that would have the eager-to-go-to-recess kiddos cup their ears and screech…which would make Senorita Shushenheimer start the droning and shushing all over again.

My first clue that Shushenheimer was going to be one of the first casualties of the new administration came a few years back.  I was putting out lunches for the second group one beautiful April Spring day.  The kids in first group had just finished eating and were excited–it was the first recess since the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  Senorita Shushenheimer didn’t like the cold weather…if the temp wasn’t above 50 degrees–the kids didn’t go out.  As luck would have it, Mrs. Branflakes had delivered playground balls for the kids to use during recess in late February and the kids were jonesing to put them to use.   

Branflakes and the “fun”draising committee had spent the entire winter cleaning out capri sun containers and sending them to third world countries for pennies on qualifying packages so kids in sweatshops could assemble purses for purchase in resort towns…the result was seen in the mesh bag of playground balls purchased from the cash received from all their rinsing…and, you’d better bet every person assembled in the lunchroom was on board for a bouncing good time on the black top with the exception of Shushenheimer.

You just knew by Shushenheimer’s oompa-loompa-like physique that excercise was not on her list of priorities…and by her droning and shushing…fun was foreign.

She stood at the microphone and shushed the students.  Then proceeded to drone on and on for what seemed like forever how they needed to listen in order to go outside.  She usually droned and shushed until calling each class up to the door to the parking lot…by the time the kids all lined up there was never any time left for outside play.  I believe this was part of her master plan.

But on this day the kids were playing their cards right.  They saw the sun, the blue skies, and the bag of balls sitting outside the door to the backroom.  I’ll admit Shushenheimer did her best to drone and shush the kids into indigestion…but they held their voices and Senorita had no choice but to let the cherubs line up.

One of the lunch moms made the mistake of asking Senorita if she should grab the balls.  The kids squealed with delight…and began the chant…bring the balls…bring the balls…to which Shushenheimer sent them all back to their tables and the shushing and droning began all over.

Seemed that the springtime weather brought the wind.  And–as she pointed out through the big windows that surrounded the lunchroom, it was windy–she made her voice sound like a large gust as she slowly droned out the word w-i-n-d-y…her exhale into the microphone was like an exclamation point.

She continued to expain to the children that when it is windy the balls blow and then they have to run after the balls in order to chase them.  Shushenheimer said and I quote “All this running is not good for you children.”

Because, really, why would we want the kids to be outside running and playing during recess?  Shushenheimer never made much sense…lucky for the class of 2019 they’ll never experience the drone or shush…with any luck they might have a chance to chase a ball and run off some of their lunch during recess.

Another “gem” they would never have to experience–at least in the form of a teacher– would be my old pal Ms. Leftwinger.  Now, hate is a strong word…suffice it to say I strongly, very,very strongly, dislike that woman.

I experienced her firsthand as the mother of a first grader.  In our many, many meetings held during the 2004-2005 year, Principal Sunshine did her best to boast of Leftwinger’s 35 years of experience.  I didn’t buy it.  The woman was simply miserable. 

Since the end of that particular school year, I summoned all my “saintly” friends.  I prayed to St. Philomena–the patron saint of madness and lunacy…St. Lydwina–the patron of prolonged suffering…St. Denis…the go-to-guy for strife…St. Eustachius–patron saint of difficult situations…St. Rita of Cascia–patron of lost causes.  I summoned the Holy Spirit–for understanding and wisdom…St. Francis of Assisi for peace.  I also contacted the Superintendent of Catholic Schools with copies of the letters written to me over the course of a year by Leftwinger’s pen.

I’m not sure if it was the Saints answering my prayers or the Archdiocese Super taking stock in what I passed along…but for whatever reason, Leftwinger will never, ever have the opportunity to do to a kid what she did to mine.  She took an eager learner and turned him off…she browbeat and bullied a six-year-old kid…and when she got called on the carpet she did what any coward would do–she lied about it.

Experience is a wonderful thing–but couple it with a miserable attitude and kids do not benefit.  I pray to St. Aloysius the patron of Catholic Youth, that the first graders in the Class of 2018 at the Blue Ribbon Palace have an absolutely enjoyable year…because that is what first grade should be–enjoyable.

And when they check out a book from Leftwinger the Media Expert–I pray to the big guy himself that the gal with 40+ years of experience, tired old lesson plans, all of which is further enhanced with her delightful personality, I pray, I pray she has not decided to reintroduce the dewey decimal system to the state of the art computer enhanced library.

Along with the big guy and the communion of saints, I also lay a lot of stock in karma.  It is my greatest wish that when Leftwinger arrives at the firey gates of hell, “Karma Cujo” will be waiting to give her a big bite in her backside.  In the meantime I rejoice in knowing her tenure is over as far as teaching goes. 

As for the CPS teachers faced with a lay-off, I pray to St. Catherine of Alexandria–a patron for teachers.  I pray if you’re a good teacher you’ll stay exactly where you belong.  Kids need to be surrounded by the good apples…not discouraged by the bad ones.

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