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[teacherartexchange] elementary art educators, rights & responsibilities

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From: Horn, Blue (bhorn_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Nov 16 2008 - 12:44:47 PST


this may have been addressed in previous threads, but i can't find them if they have been...

What are the rights & responsibilities of elementary art (and music) educators?

For those school districts fortunate enough to have the funds to place elementary art and music educators in the regular rotation of a child's school life, this is an ongoing issue - or at least it has been in my 16 years in this school district. In most states, elementary art is not required by law to be included in the elementary curriculum of a child. That means the local districts cover the cost of our inclusion, which leaves (at least in my circumstance) our rights and responsibilities at the administrative level - each principal decides how we will fit into the schedule, the time frame of classes, and other school related matters. Due to this fact, many times we are marginalized and our specific discipline's needs overlooked as we are but few on a faculty of many classroom teachers (i.e. majority wins). Many of you may say that there are suggestions within the national and/or state courses of study, but these suggestions only go so far depending upon school and administrator. Suggestions carry no weigh
t in my school district, laws do. I am in a district with 10 elementary schools and each administrator handles their art educators differently. Some have a schedule that would wear out any art teacher, no matter what the enthusiasm for the field and study of art, while others realize that we need time to set up before each class, time to mount and display work, time to prep the materials, time to load the kiln, time to do purchase orders that are for an entire school of children - not just a classroom full, etc. Is there not a movement towards making life fair for those of us with tough situations such as this? Is there no one to turn to when an administrator doesn't see the plight we may have? Times are volatile right now for classroom teachers with all of the paperwork they must do, the reading and math that is being shoved down their throats and in turn shoved down their kids' throats, I am not here to defend them - thought I am keenly aware of their issues as well, I am here to defend my position as a pr
ofessional in an often times marginalized field.

I could give many examples of my peers issues within their own school around the district, but I think I can use my own to further explain what can happen to an art teacher in an elementary setting using my own examples this year. I teach approximately 681 kids grades K-5, comprising 37 classes. At 700, our school would be "allowed" to gain another 1/2 unit of art and music to ease the load. Our music teacher (who teaches the same number of students) was included on our scheduling committee, but the classroom teachers understandably are more concerned about themselves and their time... so our schedule is packed full each day, each class & grade level for 40 minutes, with no time in between. On two days, our rotation has 5 classes in a row, there is literally not time enough to prep for each class, let alone use the bathroom. The schedule was set up so that the classroom teachers have breaks during the days of the week, and so that each grade level can have a team planning time once a week - the "specials" te
achers do not have a planning time, once again, marginalized for the masses. If there is a field trip or school-wide assembly, teachers ask that we make up their classes and get upset when we do not, but there literally is no time in the master schedule to do so. The administrator does not express the mass of our schedule to the classroom teachers, and therefore we suffer the wrath of the classroom teachers when they don't have their "planning time" that was lost. If there is a school assembly, we are required to attend that assembly with the class we have at this time. This much doesn't bother me, but it does some. Last week, a classroom teacher had the audacity to ask me if I'd pick up her children from a school event, take them to the lunchroom to pick up sack lunches, and have them eat in my room - apparently teaching them art was irrelevant to her b/c she had to get her grades done. These are but a few examples of the lowly stature (babysitter comes to mind) that we have at our school and it should be c
lear that some sort of law protecting our rights & stating our inherent responsibilities should apply to all of us so that we are never put in these positions.

Some of you may say "just be glad you have a job" and I say to you I am, very glad and thankful. I also say that I am being marginalized and that fair does matter.

Some of you may say "talk to your administrator", I say her concerns lay with classroom teachers as she herself was a former classroom teacher, and that other art educators are in the same predicament.

Some of you may say "move to the middle or high schools", I say we need good elementary art educators too and that those of us who care can make a difference in these matters should we take up the cause.

Some of you may say "talk to the human resources contact in your school district", I say I've known far too many people who were hurt professionally by doing so.

There are many more things some of you may say, but I am looking for laws or guidelines or SOMETHING that will help alleviate the plight of elementary art educators such as myself.

I look forward to hearing from my peers on this matter....

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