Written by Zachariah Clymer
My school was a nightmare of a school from the beginning of my academic career there to the very end. I had a lot of good memories here but ultimately I blame this school for killing my drive to learn. I went to Gateway College Preparatory School starting in 7th grade and finishing through high school. This summer will mark the first full year since leaving high school for me and it feels like I’m right back to where I started. My experience was marred by going through dozens of teachers every year, who always left due to the same excuse of “they just got sick” given to us by the schools (mis)managers or vindictive principal. The chaos of that school is so great it’s hard to really focus on one specific topic to analyze.
The budget problem is one of the biggest problems the school had always talked about publicly, trying to get more parents to shell out money to help pay for sports. This is ironic because one of the things the school had (and still does) pride itself on is putting sports second to education and the arts. They had cut funding for the band and the theater classes so that they could build not one, not two, but three fields for various sports. The school even had to get rid of the band to make more money for the track team to go to a meet even though the band was the third highest extracurricular course in terms of attendance.
They knew that more and more kids were getting involved in the arts yet they cut it, literally killing some of the younger students desire to explore music and study acting. My old music teacher had gotten theater and debate thrown on top of her plate when she was hired to ONLY be a music teacher. She was overworked just like a lot of the other teachers we studied under, one teacher even quitting on the first day of school after she claimed she would be “right back” when she left to get supplies from Walmart. This teacher became a running joke with the rest of the students for years to come.
After the fine arts budget got slashed the next thing up to bat was the teachers, they were forced to either take a pay cut or get several classes added to their schedules, even if they had no prior background in teaching that course. We lost several great teachers because of this, some of my favorite teachers in fact. The worst part about losing these teachers was the response given to us by the school, “They were sick”.
No, you are the one who is sick. When you have to fire a teacher who refuses to take on a load they can’t handle so they can focus on giving the best damn education they can possibly give you’re the sick one. When you have to crush the best and most beloved teachers by overburdening them with work they never chose, you are effectively stamping out the greatest fire and inspiration for the students you claim to care about. You are the sickness of education.
This is only the peak as to the failures of charter schools and why our education system is in jeopardy. When schools focus more on money and how to keep the investors happy they toss aside what's best for their students, leaving them to fend for themselves. Some got lucky, they were able to leave the school and succeed on their own by their own intuition, others were not so fortunate. The only thing I can definitively say that school helped me to achieve is that I will always be able to run like a track athlete, instead of being able to apply to a university or a job.
God damn them.