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teaching

  • A TEACHER'S COMMENTS ON BETSY DEVOS

    NOTE: The following commentary was written by my son, Marc Cascio,a veteran teacher in the Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools. It is printed here with his permission.

         The saddest thing about Betsy DeVos getting voted in as Secretary of Education is that it doesn't surprise me at all. Thevery idea that someone who has no public education experience whatsoever should be in charge of public education isindicative of how many people in our nation seem to feel about educators.

         I watch some of the extraordinary young teachers I work with busting their asses constantly and can't help but think they should be doing something else. They should be doing something where their superhuman work ethic is nurtured, cultivated, and rewarded both financially and emotionally. They should be doing something where their creativity isn't stifled by having to prepare for the next standardized test, and where they can express their individuality through their work without having to acquiesce to the demands of a "team" for fear that parents will raise hell because the number of assignments or the amount of work isn't completely even from room to room. But mostly, they shouldn't have to endure the ultimate insult: being told that a moron who has never taught is fit to hold the highest rank in their profession.

         DeVos's attainment of that highest rank isn't the worst thing that will happen to public education: The worst thing will be the fallout, when many of the extraordinary young teachers I was just writing about give up and leave the profession in droves.

    © Marc Cascio. All rights reserved

    Comments? Please send to chuckwrites@yahoo.com

  • Life In the Time of Corona (Fourth in an unlimited series)

    Life In the Time of Corona (Fourth in an unlimited series)
    (Note: The following was written by my son Marc Cascio, who is in his 28th year
    of teaching high school and coaching youth soccer—Chuck Cascio)
     
    REALIZING ‘PURPOSE’ IN THE TIME OF CORONA 
    By Marc Cascio
         
         Before he died, my Grandpa Wells used to stand guard at the doors of the Sunrise Retirement home where he eventually passed away. Nobody, not even my mother, could explain why he assumed this role: certainly nobody asked him to and, though he had once been a stalwart and aggressive man who survived D-Day and was a known entity to high-up generals, in his later days he would have been ineffective at stopping nearly anyone who invaded the home. Still, every morning, as the other elderly people shuffled here and there and busied themselves with whatever filled the time, my grandfather took up his post at the door, and there he remained.
         
         I understand now. My grandfather was a man of action and had been for his whole life. He was on his own early, and the perpetual motion of the military provided sanctuary for his restless nature. If he was cleaning boots, he was doing so for a purpose, regardless of how important he viewed that purpose. By acting as a sentry, he created meaning for himself, and that meaning gave him purpose. He probably knew he wasn't really protecting his house any longer, but nobody said as much and the sense of  purpose fed his restless soul.

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         If nothing else, I have come to understand the meaning of purpose through this whole damned virus thing. I MISS my work! I MISS my students and my players! The time that I get to spend with my own family is wonderful, yes, but I miss feeling like more of a contributor. I know some may be inclined to think by saying that I am guilty of a transgression against my family, but part of my self importance is derived from my own children seeing me work hard and seeing me try to help others. I cannot divorce myself from that, and the days seem soooo long sometimes.

         The other day, in a moment of unwitting precociousness, our 13 year old, Zoey, said she misses school because it gives her purpose. I am not surprised. My mom doesn't need to work, but she still does. She works at a Sunrise facility and (sorry mom), but she is probably older than some of the residents. Yet she won't stop working. She will brave the virus, because not working is a worse fate. My dad's retirement too is a paradox: He works as hard now as he ever did, and that is harder than most everyone I know. His work gives him purpose. He won't stop.
         
         It is wrong, of course, to feel sorry for myself when I still have my health and when we are in a much better spot than many whose life and/or livelihood have been ripped away, but I still feel the absence of purpose. And I now understand what drives an old man to stand by a door protecting nothing in one sense…and everything in another.
     
    Copyright: Marc Cascio, all rights reserved.