I'd like to take a moment to admire a colleague of mine who teaches at the same school I do. Every school has a teacher like this, and he's ours. He's been with the district for something like 15 years (which is, like, 75 Oakland-teacher-years). He's the music teacher, and he devotes a great deal of time and energy into keeping music in our school (in a district where most of the schools have lost their elective programs). He has an annual fundraiser at, I think, Yoshi's jazz club. He spends extra time before and after school rehearsing. He sponsors several student concerts throughout the year.
But above and beyond that, he is the backbone of our school. He spends part of his conference period cleaning up garbage, since our school is down to one evening custodian. He will repair anything and everything that needs it (he climbed up onto the roof of my portable classroom a couple of months ago to clean out the drainpipe so the big pool of water up there could drain outside instead of into my classroom, a trick the district repair folks have not been able to duplicate or fix). He chases down students who are wandering around out of class, writes referals, and will even call their parents - These are kids who are not his students, mind you.
In other words, he makes the rest of us look bad. But he has the energy and commitment to do all of this, even after being flogged by the district for all those years. (Working for this district is kind of like being beaten by a large rubber fish whilst simultaneously being rubbed down with sandpaper)
I admire him and wish that I could muster and sustain that kind of drive. But I've found that I just don't care that much. I've only been rubber-fish-flogged and sandpaper-rubbed for four years and I'm all out of caring. As a fresh-faced student teacher I would have been horrified at my current attitude. I would have shouted, "Goest thou far from teaching!"
What I need, I explained to my colleague today, is a district/school where there is a heck of a lot more parent and student buy-in. Where I'm not just an extremely cheap daycare. Where the rubber fish aren't quite so large and the sandpaper is maybe a little finer?