A third-grade teacher in the Philadelphia schools has issued a challenge to Gov. Corbett and Mayor Nutter: Teach an hour in my class.
Judy Willner is a veteran teacher - with more than 35 years' experience - now assigned to Joseph Pennell Elementary in the Ogontz neighborhood. School District stats show that 96 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged.
Teaching has been her lifelong passion, she wrote in 2010 on a Web page created for a book she cowrote. She began in Camden soon after college when a second-grade teacher quit in midterm. "I've been doing it ever since and can't imagine doing anything else."
But the opening of this school year hasn't gone so well for her.
Here's her letter:
Dear Governor Corbett and Mayor Nutter,
Please, please come into my third grade class and show me how to teach 32 children, 24 of them boys. Please show me how to handle the rude and disrespectful kids and still maintain control of my class. Please show me how to do reading groups and ... lessons plans ... that will improve instruction. Please show me how to remain calm when I have children running the halls and around the room and bothering other children. Please show me how to teach a math program without workbooks and paper. Please come show me how to organize my day so I am not just disciplining the children. Please help me help the ones who want to learn. Please, please come show me how to help these kids when I am only one person.
She wrote this the day of her Back to School Breakfast. Out of 32 parents, only 11 showed. And those were the parents of children who have presented no problems, she said.
If I am correct, each of you have a full staff that helps you run your city or state. Correct me if I am wrong, but I am sure that nobody yells at you, ignores you, curses you out, runs out of your office and throws things at you? Correct me If I am wrong, but I assume you have plenty of materials that you need to run your office. Again, correct me if I am wrong - but is anybody trying to take some of your salary and say that you personally have to "fix the budget problem"?
Finally, she asked that neither the governor nor the mayor tell her she is an essential difference-maker.
Don't patronize me and tell me that other districts are suffering, too, and I will get through the year. Don't you dare tell me that I should not worry about those who don't want to learn and just focus on those who do. Don't tell me that you are working hard to make things better for all of Philadelphia. Finally, don't you ever, ever blame teachers for the problems our district is having.
So, just call me up when you are ready to come in and take over my class for an hour. I promise you - you won't even last ten minutes.
Have a pleasant day,
A third-grade teacher in Ogontz has
for the mayor and governor: You come
and teach 36 pupils for an hour, and then you can talk about how to improve the schools. The Talk with Daniel Rubin, B2. EndText