Listen Linda: Illinois School System

Olivia Bettorf
ombettorf@lc.edu

 

Welcome back to school everybody! And for those who are new to our humble little college, welcome! We have a lot of fun here and it’s much better than high school. Scratch that. It’s way better than high school, because if you wish to think like me… Students pay for schooling, to get a piece of paper, to say they are qualified, to work in a certain field, so that the government isn’t as involved with college. However, college is still a whole lot better than high school. Let me tell you why.

Needless to say that the government or the state doesn’t entirely care about, ya know, southern Illinois. Some of you might be from around here, but I can tell you from first hand experience that our K-12 system is not all that and a bag of chips… it’s not even a bag of chips, honestly. If it was it would be those gross-tasting chips that are stale but at the same time way too overpriced for the quality. At least, that’s my opinion, though others might say differently. I went to a small school in a smallish town that wasn’t all that great at football, but had good people in classes.

Now this school was the definition of overworked and underpaid for the teachers who generally cared about their jobs. But, there would always be those teachers who thought they were hot stuff yet couldn’t teach a pencil how to write. There were also those biased teachers, advisors, or coaches you had to deal with if you joined a certain club or sport. 

I’m not talking about bias towards other students (that happens in general to everyone trying to achieve education to help or better one’s life), but towards other programs in the school. It was usually the lower-funded programs.There. I said it. Lower funded programs seemed to have a grudge towards sport programs and yes, it was because of the money.

This wasn’t the only problem with my school district. The board was relatively bad at money management…like as bad as I am with money. This didn’t help with anything, especially the food situation. Most kids would end up going off campus to eat, bring their own lunch, or eat the gross chips from the vending machine. School food is gross and should not be considered as a debt to pay in other schools, and half the time it was cold when I returned back to my seat. 

A big issue at my school was the one and only school curriculum. Instead of teaching me how to properly do my taxes and how to keep myself from dying when I start to live on my own, they taught me useless math and how to line dance. This is the case in a lot of schools, and needs to change.

“We’re preparing you for college! It only gets harder!” No. No, it doesn’t if you have the right professors and reliable resources, like tutoring on campus to help you. So no Karen, in college they actually care a little more than you and they also have children to feed and bills to pay.

Another problem is that nearly every adult in that school is a bit of a bully. (The exception is one teacher who I always appreciated and trusted due to him being a family friend.) No matter what, unless it was physical bullying, most people (including students) turned a blind eye. I must admit, even sometimes I would ignore it, but I was also on the receiving end from time to time. The school did nothing to stop bullying, and when students would say something to bring attention to it, they would basically blow us off and tell us to quit joking around. 

Real stuff, guys.This happened during my time in high school. The worst part of this story is that students often filed complaints and reports about a teacher who is gratingly rude and cruel to her students. Additionally, she is part of the reason we do not have as big of a band when I started eighth grade. Other teachers would even curse at us or talk about how “lazy and stupid” we were when we would ask for help, and pull the occasional “maybe you should have paid attention more in class” card. Maybe you should learn how to teach math, Karen. 

The story only gets worse, sadly. There was a student who was bullied so badly that it did lead to unfortunate events. I hear stories about them and only wish I could go back and try to help do something about it. After their death, school just…swept it under the rug. The student didn’t get any type of memorial or anything in the year book. Not even a moment of silence over our intercom.

Bullying isn’t a funny thing guys, so please, even if you are afraid to speak up, do it because you might be someone’s only hope. We need to, as humans, learn to forgive and let go, even me.

My school, needless to say, went from being one of the best schools known to the older generations to one of the worst, no matter how hard they want to try and fix such a thing. So if you are looking to make teaching your career, do not be a teacher in Illinois and be the best teacher you could ever be. Give every student a chance and notice signs from certain students who are facing challenges in their lives. 

Give them hope for the future and something to look forward to.

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