Saturday, May 20, 2017

Little Response From North Carolina Public Education Community Is Profoundly Disappointing

Dear Lit Loves,

Wondering where I've been lately regarding my blog posts?  Well folks, I have been on a crusade to bring my recent book, Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life to the attention of our state's public school education community and leadership.  My first group of contacts included the North Carolina State Board of Education in Raleigh.  I emailed notices about the book to all representatives listed with the exception of two that I have yet to send.  And how many of those folks did I hear from?  Exactly two.  Yes, you read that correctly.  First, I want to say that upon emailing our new state school superintendent, I am most happy to report that he responded the same afternoon and bought a copy of the book.  He's ready to see better public education in North Carolina.  I would also like to extend an appreciative nod to William Cobey, Chair of The North Carolina Board of Education, as he responded to my email within an hour to let me know he had downloaded a copy of the book while waiting to catch a flight at the airport!  Now here's the problem, what happened to the rest of the representatives that I sent an email to and this excludes the two that I have not had an opportunity to contact via email?  Did you not have time to check your email?  Did my email go to your spam box? Were you on vacation?  Did you have some medical problem that caused you to take a leave of duty? Because here is the issue folks, you cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and be bystanders.  You've darn well got to not only get in the game, but bring nothing but your "A"game.  Some of you were the loudest inquirers last year when the board discussed why there is such difficulty retaining new teachers and insisted on understanding what does it mean when teachers leave the profession and check a box citing "personal reasons" for leaving.  Honestly, I really thought those particular representatives would be the first individuals from whom I would receive a response regarding the book, but that was not the case.  It makes this writer and former North Carolina public school educator wonder how invested you really are in improving North Carolina public schools and getting to the bottom of the problem when it comes to retaining new public school teachers? I wrote the book because I felt it might make a difference, enlighten, and heck, maybe even inspire someone as I reflected in manuscript form a glimpse into my life as a first year middle school teacher in North Carolina's public schools.  The shortfalls, rewards, chaos/mayhem, and needed improvements I encountered as a first year public educator are all there and I wrote it in an honest and forthright fashion.  I never claimed to be J.K. Rowling or Maya Angelou, but I can tell you if there is one thing you will get from me it is brutal honesty.

Now, just so I am covering my bases here, I sent emails to thirty of our North Carolina Association of Educators Regional Chapter Presidents in various counties.  The response?   Crickets.  Nada.  Hmmm.  Wonder what's going on with this group?  Maybe I just selected the wrong local NCAE 2016-2017 local chapter presidents?  Maybe they don't open emails from people they don't know?  Of course, that's why the subject line of the email states in caps:  Book Chronicles N.C.  Public Middle School Teacher's First Year In Classroom.  That would intrigue me if I were still an educator in the classroom or a local representative for The North Carolina Association of Educators. I realize we are closing in on the end of the school year  and end of grade exams, but still.  I really thought I would receive more support from this particular educational entity.  When you write an honest account of what you as a North Carolina public school teacher encountered while in the trenches, particularly when it was a volatile school prime with teachers leaving the profession during the school year and many transferring to other schools at the end of the year, as a writer you think, hey I am putting it all on the line here with no holds barred.  You think to yourself, surely current and former teaching compatriots will support me for having the guts to put down on paper my public school teaching experiences in an uncompromising fashion.  Now, with so little response, I'm not so sure. I sincerely hope that I am wrong, but I am sensing apathy. I am sensing indifference.  In essence, I am seeing smoke signals that spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.  And that's scary because public school education in our state and North Carolina public school educators deserve better not to mention our state's public school students. And that just might mean being open to learning from others.  Are we on the same page now?  Have you cracked the book open yet?

So presently, I am on a crusade to contact and bring my book to the attention of fifty different principals from the mountains, the coast, the triad, and the triangle areas of North Carolina.  Wonder if I'll hear from any of them?  Cause when you are an indie author you've got to get your book the attention of its prime audience.  I would think public school principals would be more than a bit interested to find some sort of support for their new teachers because obviously, if the state is having difficulties retaining our newest educators, our state's public school community most definitely needs to discover the reasons why and devise some solutions. The last time I checked the mentoring system in our state's public schools, it was not giving new teachers the level of support they require. So who is going to step up? When I taught at a N.C. public middle school, I remember our principal having bought books for the entire teaching faculty.  Seriously.  And that was all well and good, but I didn't need another book on how to bring technology to my subject matter or how to raise my students' writing test scores.  What I could have used is an inspiring teaching memoir to boost my morale and keep on my shelf for times when I was just about to throw in the towel myself. 

And finally, I am going to attempt to obtain the attention of our colleges and universities and their respective departments of education.  Why?  Because though I was well-prepared in my middle school content areas, for the love of Mother Mary, there was no preparation for motivating students who could care less about their education; parents who took little or too much interest in their child's education; the lack of classroom resources; how to handle grave matters of school security; the lack of timely discipline; integrating ESOL students into my core content classes; coping with the immense level of bullying in middle school; containing the many incidents of violence prevalent in our schools; and for heaven's sake, teachers who throw serious shade on the profession.  Let's put it this way, I could have used a first-aid kit in my classroom during my first year of teaching and thankfully Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools required me to get certified in CPR before I graduated high school.  You'll have to read my book to understand when and why that came in handy.

Maybe a book like mine wasn't needed though.  Maybe the problem with new teachers leaving our state's public schools has been solved or the powers that be in our educational system have identified all the solutions for what's going wrong in our public schools and why.  Maybe the apathy and indifference I'm witnessing among some of North Carolina's Public School Community is because folks have the issues and struggles all figured out and are not in need of any further learning, solutions, or inspiration.  Well, if that's the case, how come my former high school is now considered "under-achieving"?  How come I am seeing all sorts of crisis and mayhem being recorded inside our state public schools on the nightly local news?  How come a county charter school allowed students to graduate when those students hadn't met anywhere near the number of credits the state requires for graduation? How come some public schools are so incredibly low-performing that the state is considering shutting them down completely and starting from scratch?  Makes you wonder if maybe somewhere a former or current teacher needed to rise up and say, "Let me tell you a story.  It's called Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life. I wrote it under my pen name of Grace Sutherlin.  It might shed some light on the current state of North Carolina public school education for you".  What have you got to lose?  You might just find it not only enlightening, but entertaining.

Continuing The Indie Author Journey,