I don’t teach at Iroquois. I will not pretend that I know everything that is going on in that school. But I cannot sit idly by and watch spectators on social media try and dismantle a school with their constant negativity, their hatred for the “system” as a whole, and their armchair willingness to fix things “if they let me run that school!”
I am a teacher. And if this recent election has proven anything, the world can be changed when teachers stand together.
Now we all need to stand with Iroquois.
After several high-profile incidents that have attracted a media frenzy, it is clear that things inside the school seem to be falling apart. The recent post that appeared on the Dear JCPS Facebook page indicates that teachers are not only disenfranchised by their students’ behavior, but are being torn apart by the very district leaders who are assigned to fix problems, not create more drama for those trying to teach there everyday.
This anonymous post has attracted well over 200 comments and as many shares since it was published on Monday. If the post is entirely true, then it should serve as a clear cry for help. But so much of social media is fueled by hyperbole and half-truths. And no post ever seems to focus on the good things going on in a school. The good news always seems to float by under the radar, with only the negative making waves.
This is where I must admit that I teach at a high-performing high school. I’ve spent my entire career there. Of course we have our problems. Drugs. Cell phones. Some misbehavior. That’s true in any high school. But our problems seem microscopic compared to what is going on daily at Iroquois.
We’ve heard rumors that the superintendent himself has been there as a sub, due to the fact that there are never enough substitutes for the many teachers that are absent. But rumors are a far cry from the truth.
The Dear JCPS article mentioned earlier also names two assistant superintendents who reportedly “stood around” and acted like they were helping with their mere presence in the building. If this is true, then district leadership needs to question their knowledge and abilities, as well as their willingness to enact change, rather than commanding it from Van Hoose.
The blame turns on the teachers next. The article (and a lot of the comments) say that they are terrible and don’t care. Most of them don’t show up. That kind of thing.
I’m not sure that I believe all of it.
The teachers that I know at Iroquois are some of the most caring, creative, engaging, and motivated professionals in this district. And many of them have been there for several years, even their whole career.
It takes a special person to teach in a chronically low-achieving school. Add in lots of additional social and cultural problems, and I can only begin to imagine the heartache that those teachers must have daily. To know that an entire city, even people out in the state, think that you are a failure, and still go to work everyday, that takes real strength. Strength and commitment to students that deserve to learn and be loved just as much as every other student in this district.
Which brings me back to my thesis: we all need to stand with Iroquois right now.
We need to speak against the haters, the naysayers, those who only seek their own agendas, and actually ask those who teach there what they need.
We need to speak to Dr. Polio and his entire team, and demand that they go and see things for themselves, and that they use their expertise to address the issues that are present.
We need Louisville media to stop criticizing schools without knowing the full story of what is going on inside a building.
Just last week, this blog posted a heartfelt letter from an Iroquois teacher, whose letter to members of the Board of Education was obtained through an open records request from a local reporter. This letter speaks honestly about what is going on, without any of the sensationalism that proliferates on social media. I highly recommend you read it and see things for yourself.
And after you do, could you do all of us teachers a favor: save your criticism for something else. Unless you’ve been a teacher yourself, you have no idea what goes on in public schools. The highs and lows. The myriad of emotions that pass through our buildings on a daily basis.
Rather than being a critic and pretending that you have the answers to all the problems, do us all a favor and put your money where your mouth is.