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Monday, April 30, 2012

Touching The Future...Or Not


About a million years ago, I wanted to be a teacher.

That became a dream deferred, but not one I’d given up on.

Then my husband (a brilliant man with a degree in physics), became a teacher at a public high school here in North Carolina.  He’s an awesome teacher.  He loves his students.  He loves his co-workers.

He’s starting to wonder if he should start looking for another profession.

It seems like I’ve wanted to be a teacher since the beginning of forever.  Now I’m rethinking a dream that has lasted more than twenty years, for the same reason my husband is rethinking his profession.

Everywhere we turn the profession he loves, and the one I’ve dreamed of for so long, is under attack.

“There r more bad teachers than good. That is why they r intimidated by the merit raise / fire approach that we use in the private sector”

“i think most of you are over paid as it is and not only that but when you got raises so did my property tax raise too. So dont bite the hand the feeds you. the days of wine and roses are coming to an end for you teachers.”

“you have no marketable skills”

“teachers have pretty sweet jobs on the backs of tax payers”

“public school teachers need to get off their high horses”

“fire all current teachers, and hire the homeless to do their jobs at a fraction of the cost”

“Teachers are lazy and have a false sense of worth.  You stand in front of a room of kids and read from a lesson plan.  You also get summers off.  Quit complaining.”


All quotes from comments on news stories about teachers, and not even the worst of them.

You see, it’s not the low pay and incredibly long hours that are discouraging…

 – oh yeah, you know that thing about teachers only work 7 hours a day, 180 days a year, get summers and holidays off to work on their tans?  Complete crap.

The teachers I know who aren’t lucky enough to have a spouse with a job that pays enough to support the family, supplement their income with second jobs, summer jobs…in general, really crappy jobs.   Teachers who’ve been teaching over fifteen years (if they’ve survived that long), make a better wage, but still nothing like any other professional who’s been in their job as long.

But I digress.

Because, as a post I saw on Facebook this last week put it, “Teachers aren’t in it for the income, they’re in it for the outcome.”

No, it’s not the income, because if that was the issue I’d have given up on the dream a looong time ago, and hubby never would have started.

It’s the lack of respect.  It’s the open derision.  It’s the fact that open season has been declared on teachers, and most people don’t seem to have a problem with it.

How do I know that?  Well, one big clue is that we keep electing and re-electing people who have consistently placed education at the bottom of the budget priority list.

Another big clue is that while it was distressingly easy to pull up lots and lots of these comments, the majority of rebuttals were from…teachers.  Teachers are the new favorite scapegoat for problems in our educational system and shortfalls in state budgets. 

Not parents who fail to instill a sense of personal responsibility.  Not politicians who cut funding to the bone, so that teachers (including my husband) have to try to find a way to pay for supplies out of their own pockets.  Not budget priorities that make sure administrators go to really awesome meetings in resort towns, while science teachers use re-covered text books that were inaccurate when they were first printed…fifteen-plus years ago. 

There were a fair number of people who were willing to allow that teachers were, well, a necessary evil.  But the caveat to that was, “I don’t want my taxes to go up.”

The other comment I’ve seen a fair bit of, is the, “I don’t have kids, so why should I pay to educate other people’s kids?”

(By the way, the simple answer to that is: Do you think it MIGHT possibly be a good idea for that nurse to understand the difference between .10 cc’s and 1.0 cc’s?  Unless of course, you’re not planning on needing a nurse…ever.  Or a doctor.  Or pretty much any other profession that requires a working knowledge of science, math, the English language, or basic social studies – you know like, accountants, lawyers, firefighters, dentists, etc.)

So.

How bad do I want the dream?

How bad does my husband want to keep the dream?

Bad enough?  I don’t know.

Do you care if another teacher bites the dust?  Or never steps into the ring in the first place?

Do your family and friends and neighbors care?

Because I can’t hear you.

As Edmund Burke pointed out, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."