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TEACHERS.NET GAZETTE
Volume 3 Number 2

COVER STORY
Harry & Rosemary Wong say, "...effective teachers do not employ tricks of the trade, the latest fad, or untested opinions..." This month the Wongs feature Liz Breaux, a most effective teacher...
COLUMNS
Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
Ask the School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
Online Classrooms by Leslie Bowman
The Eclectic Teacher by Ginny Hoover
The Busy Educator's Monthly Five (5 Sites for Busy Educators) by Marjan Glavac
Around the Block by Bridget Scofinsky
Ask the Literacy Teacher by Leigh Hall
The Visually Impaired Child by Dave Melanson
ARTICLES
Seussational Reading Excitement - NEA's Read Across America: Too Much Reading Fun for Just One Day!...
The 100th Day of School
100th Day Activities
Television--Don't Trash It--Control It
Remediation Doesn't Work
Behavior Management Tips
Stress
Children and Stress
Children Do Grieve
Infuse Test Preparation With Life-long Learning
Technology Integration Has No Hope of Succeeding!
Technophobia to Technophilia
Cooperative Learning
Why All Students Need Fine Motor Skills
Teaching Gayle to Read (Part 3)
The Role of EFL learners' Heterogeneity in Terms of Age in Their Use of Communication Strategies
The Importance of the School Administration to Student Achievement
Using Non-Fiction to Motivate Reluctant Readers
Quantity over Quality--The Problem with Writing Instruction in Our Schools
Tips for Substitute Teachers
TEACHER INSPIRATION FEATURE
From "I Don't Care" to "I Did It!"
ON-SITE INSIGHTS
Rules for Secondary Classrooms
Block Scheduling
REGULAR FEATURES
Special Days This Month
The Lighter Side of Teaching
  • YENDOR'S Top Ten
  • Exceptional Normalcy
  • Schoolies
  • Woodhead
  • Handy Teacher Recipes
    Classroom Crafts
    Help Wanted - Teaching Jobs
    Featured Lessons from the Lesson Bank
  • Famous Black Americans
  • Valentine Village
  • Upcoming Ed Conferences
    Letters to the Editor
    Chatboard Poll
    FYI
    Arecibo Radar Gets 11th-Hour Reprieve
    Planetary Society Offers New Scholarships
    Gazette Home Delivery:

    Letters to the Editor...
    Violations of Teachers' Constitutional Rights (continued)

    I have been trying this morning to continue
    with my horror story, but after typing for
    about an hour, I was nowhere near finished,
    so deleted it all. I am going to try
    again, and hit only the highlights. Please
    remember that is just one of many stories
    that could be told by teachers and staff in
    this district. Eight of us have federal
    suits against the district, three others
    decided against suits because of their fear
    and the lack of money. A civil rights
    lawyer volunteered to represent me on
    contingency. By May 2001 the situation had
    deteriorated drastically. Another
    teacher/friend/union rep fainted while
    being served with another harassing letter
    during class, and had to be taken to the
    hospital by ambulance. The EMTs had a
    difficult time reviving her, and when i
    went to the office to make sure an
    ambulance had been called i overheard the
    principal ask one of our many vice-
    principals if anyone from the media was on
    campus! I was livid that his first thought
    was about his "image," instead of about the
    teacher. It was suggested that I go home.
    I had been proctoring an AP exam that
    morning, so already had a sub. And I was
    very upset about the teacher and what the
    principal said. I left, but partway home
    remembered that i had not entered my
    seniors' grades. I returned to school,
    where it was again suggested--several times-
    -that I should leave because of my health.
    I found it very odd that administrators
    were concerned with my health. I went to
    my room to enter the grades. i only had
    three seniors, so it would have taken just
    a minute, then I would have left. Before I
    got the computer on, two city policemen
    came to my room to take me off campus! I
    though i would pass out! I refused to go
    until they gave me a good reason. One
    said, "This is Superintendent Burnett's
    school, and he wants you gone." I said
    that the school belongs to everyone, and
    that i did not have to leave if I had not
    been charged with anything. They dragged
    me to my car. As they were pushing me into
    it, I heard someone yell out that I was now
    on administrative leave. There were so
    many people, cops, EMTs, etc. around, that
    things were confusing, and I was scared to
    death. Someone drove me home. I was put on
    leave with pay, but was not allowed to go
    back to see my students graduate, or say
    goodbye to my foreign students. Then
    administrators took $1000. from my summer
    check to "discipline" me, but I still
    hadn't been charged with anything. In the
    meantime, I was rehired for 2001-2002! The
    principal had been harassing me by having
    the vice-principal drop into my class
    unannounced to observe me, the entire
    period once, which had never happened in 13
    years! I was given the highest evaluations
    by the vice-principal! These people are
    nuts! Anyway, they left me alone during
    the summer, although while I had been off
    sick, they had sent security guards,
    secretaries, and personnel people to my
    home with harassing letters. I was never
    charged with anything, although weeks later
    I was charged with insubordination. All of
    us that were being harassed were seeing
    counselors. I would never have believed I
    could get so paranoid. I was afraid to get
    the mail, because I never knew what they
    were going to charge me with. I kept all
    of my doors locked after people started
    coming to my home with harassing letters.
    We all feared for our safety, especially
    considering the strange relationship
    between the cops and the school. On August
    7th, the day before school started, I was
    told that a second History teacher had been
    put on administrative leave, with no
    charges against her, and
    that a third History teacher had been
    harassed into quitting. So many teachers
    had transferred, retired early, quit, or
    were on administrative leave that some
    classes began on the 13th with subs! The
    evening of the 7th I called the union rep,
    sobbing. I told her that I knew they would
    get me next, and I was terrified of
    returning to school. Eventually, I
    realized that I could not let them defeat
    me. I went to work on the 8th. The first
    three days were for staff development, so
    we had no students. Things were fine on
    the 8th, and I gave a sigh of relief. On
    the 9th, I was 5 minutes late to the
    meeting. The principal was already
    speaking to the faculty, giving us hell for
    having the nerve to speak to board
    members. He said they were sick of
    teachers trying to contact them, and that
    it would stop! I went to the back of the
    room. There were no chairs, so I sat on
    the floor, as teachers often do, I
    especially, because sitting in a chair for
    hours makes my legs hurt because of my
    fibromyalgia. After the meeting, we were
    allowed to go to lunch. After lunch, we
    returned for more speeches by
    administrators. As we headed for the
    auditorium, a friend came up to tell me she
    was so sorry that s former student of mine,
    missing for days, has dead. She had been
    murdered and thrown into a dumpster. Mary
    Alice had been my English student and my
    History student, and I had helped her get
    into Brown University. We were very
    close. My legs buckled. I sank down into
    a chair in the vestibule, told the others
    to go on in, and let me sit until my head
    cleared. I borrowed a cell phone to let my
    best friend know about Mary Alice. I sat
    and cried for about ten minutes. I was
    aware of people around me, but was in such
    shock that I don't remember them talking to
    me. After about ten minutes, a friend came
    to check on me, and tell me she had an
    empty seat next to her. We went into the
    meeting. About 15 minutes later, another
    administrator came to my seat and told me I
    had to go with her. I asked why. She was
    acting so weird that I did not want to go.
    I said no. the friend next to me convinced
    me to go, so we three left the auditorium.
    The cops got me again! They twisted my arm
    behind my back so hard that they hurt me,
    and started dragging me up the hill to the
    car. I was screaming bloody murder, and
    asking them why they were doing this. They
    kept saying that I knew why! Just as we
    got to the top of the hill by the office,
    people came running out of the office
    yelling, "You have the wrong teacher!"
    They were so angry at so many teachers that
    they got confused! I laughed hysterically
    at their incompetence, then went back to
    the meeting. After school I went to the
    Dr. for a prescription for pain pills. The
    next day I was put on adminstrative leave
    again---with no charges! I was numb with
    fear and anger. My students didn't have a
    teacher. After about two weeks I called
    one of our many administrators to ask if
    they hadn't decided yet what to charge me
    with! It was about another week before
    they sent me papers saying there was to be
    a predetermination hearing to decide
    whether or not I should be terminated! The
    charges? I sat on the floor during a
    faculty meeting, and I blocked the entrance
    (5'x8') to the auditorium with my body
    (5'2" and 110 pounds) causing a safety
    hazard! i am not making this up! of
    course Burnett decided that there was
    enough evidence for a termination hearing,
    which was Oct. 30th. The school lawyer was
    in charge of the hearing, deciding what
    could and could not be heard! Burnett had
    ordered every administrator in the
    district to attend, to arrive an hour
    early, and to stay until it was over! At
    ten P.M., after three hours of their
    witnesses, my lawyer asked that we continue
    on another night, since the teachers had
    been up since 5 A.M., and had to get up at
    that time again the next morning. It was
    going to be nearly midnight before my
    witnesses took the stand! Their lawyer said
    no! So my lawyers left! I sat stunned for
    a minute, then left too. The room full of
    administrators stayed for nearly three more
    hours, testifying about me to each other!
    No surprise, i was terminated---three
    months before retirement! The termination
    appeal will be the 26th and 27th of this
    month, with an arbitrator from another town
    in charge. When I applied for unemployment
    insurance, the school lied about why I was
    fired---felt stupid saying it was for
    sitting on the floor, I guess! They were
    caught lying, and the DOL found in my
    favor. In an effort to show everyone just
    how stupid they are, they appealed again!
    And lost again! In the meantime, two other
    districts in NM were getting so much
    attention for their corruption, that the
    state Attorney General stepped in! She
    began to get calls from all over the state,
    demanding that other districts be
    investigated. They were so overwhelmed
    that they set up a special prosecutor's
    office with its own phone line! Did any of
    you hear me scream with joy when I found
    that out a few days ago?!! I called the
    line, then called everyone I know in the
    free world, and asked them to call. I and
    three other former Los Lunas High teachers
    have a meeting with the special prosecutor
    tomorrow. The thought that the corruption
    might stop is so exciting. And I think
    there is a good chance that my termination
    will be overturned! For years, grades at
    our school have been changed for kids of
    favored parents, especially for athletes.
    There are kids in special-ed that are not
    special-ed, but the school receives extra
    money for them. Several classes did not
    have a teacher, just many different subs
    last term, yet grades were given in the
    name of teachers no longer on campus. What
    these people have done to the students is
    criminal. My hope now is that having our
    AG step in could serve as a precedent to
    have AGs in other states investigate
    schools. I have been shocked to learn how
    corrupt schools are, and to learn how much
    money there is to steal. I want to add
    that we have asked for help from the AG
    before, as well as from the state
    superintendent, local board members, state
    board members, North Central Accreditation,
    senators, representatives, the national
    NEA, DOL, ACLU, OCR, attorneys, TV and
    newspaper reporters (and some of them have
    helped), EEOC, etc. I have contacted
    20/20, Oprah Winfrey, Dateline, Time, and
    Newsweek, among others. I also joined a
    teacher support group on the net. I am
    working on a web page, which a kind-hearted
    education advocate put up for me, and on a
    teacher advocacy service. I will call them
    both "Stand Up for Educators." I am sick
    of teachers whining, and acting like
    doormats and sheep. If we don't stand up
    for ourselves, no one else will. People
    laugh at us for being such wimps. I have
    always said that if you write "Wipe feet
    here," and lie down in front of a door, you
    will be treated like a doormat. I have
    learned a great deal about the welfare,
    unemployment, medical, teaching, judicial,
    and legal systems during my year of hell,
    and I can help others who need it. I
    learned that of all the professions that I
    have dealt with, none act as professionally
    as educators are expected to act. We have
    as much, or more, knowledge, education,
    creativity, ethics, morals, patience,
    common sense, warmth, and heart then any of
    the other professions, and we are treated
    the least professionally. STAND UP! FIGHT
    BACK!

    Darlene Goodman, mcdarlene@abq.com,
    2/17/02

    This month's letters:

  • special education, 2/28/02, by kristen.
  • Behavior Managemant Tips, 2/20/02, by Lynne Glover.
  • Violations of Teachers' Constitutional Rights (continued), 2/17/02, by Darlene Goodman.
  • Violations of Teachers' Constitutional Rights, 2/16/02, by Darlene Goodman.
  • Certification and Ethics, 2/14/02, by Tom.
  • Success, 2/13/02, by Shaun Best.
  • Burnout, 2/10/02, by Dan.
  • Burnout, 2/08/02, by Terry.
  • Burnout, 2/08/02, by pl4kids.
  • Burnout, 2/07/02, by Chloe.
  • Burnout, 2/06/02, by Jill.
  • Burnout, 2/06/02, by Staci, MI.
  • student burnout, 2/06/02, by Karen.
  • student burnout, 2/06/02, by Sue.
  • Are we helping to create student burnout?, 2/06/02, by Regina Hartsuck.
  • Student Burnout, 2/06/02, by Laura.
  • Are we helping to create student burnout?, 2/05/02, by Mary/PA.

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