Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teacher Bashing Should End!!!!

This letter was written by a good friend......food for thought.

To the editor: I am writing this letter in response to your article on the opinion page of The News-Item on March 15. As a retired teacher, watching what is going on with our economy and what is being done to the teachers in Wisconsin, and what is being asked of our teachers in this great state of Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states, I can no longer sit back and not speak out.

You expressed your opinion that teachers should go along with the idea of making financial sacrifices to help our state's economic woes. You made an attempt to balance the argument with the following paragraph. "Many critics of educators wouldn't last long in their shoes, whether it's trying to get through to the wandering mind of an 8-year-old or control a room full of 10th-graders who suddenly have all the answers. So let's not allow this to be a case of unjustified teacher-bashing. We're all in this together." I'll give you an "A" for effort, but it IS teacher bashing and we are NOT all in this together, not by a long shot.

Now, my opinion.
I am enraged at the direction our country is taking in dealing with the teaching profession in conjunction with the economy. Again, it seems the only solution to our state's deficit and the national deficit is to go after teachers.

Allow me to paint you a picture and then ask you if you see anything wrong with it. First, let me start with our country's financial situation. As our country's economy goes, so does most of our state economies. So let's take a look at our federal government's answers in dealing with our economy.

We taxpayers are paying for the billions of dollars for the stimulus and the bailouts, but I believe the stimulus and the bailouts saved our economy. At the very least, the stimulus helped states save thousands of jobs, but why did our government stop there? Has anything been done about bank CEOs giving millions, if not tens of millions, in bonuses each year after WE just bailed them out? Has anything been done to get corporations, including oil companies, to pay their fair share of taxes? Has anything been done to stop corporations and major companies from shipping jobs overseas? Has anything been done to get the banks (again, after WE bailed them out with our money) to make more money available for low-interest loans to individuals and small businesses? Has anything been done to get the wealthiest of our country, men and women, to pay their proportionate share of taxes? So where will we go for revenue? Education.

Anything wrong with this picture?
Secondly, let's look at the states. Let's look at what just happened in Wisconsin. Gov. Walker took office with a huge debt. What did he do first to deal with that debt? He gave corporations more tax breaks, but he knew what he could really do to deal with the debt - take resources from the teachers and strip them of their bargaining rights. He did not do this to the firefighters and police officers, which he should not any more than he should teachers.

How about Pennsylvania's Gov. Corbett? What is his answer to our state's financial problems? Make sure a company, which will make millions on top of millions of dollars, digging our shale does not pay its share of taxes. Why not have this corporation pay its fair share? Because we can go after teachers.
Anything wrong with this picture?

Why is it so easy to go after teachers? Well, first of all, they are overpaid. They are just glorified babysitters. They only work nine months a year. They get all holidays off. They are unworthy of the benefits they receive, health insurance in particular. Therefore, they are disrespected and unappreciated so the general public will be behind political leaders, the ones to fix the economy, and will definitely be behind busting their unions.
A teacher is special. What a teacher does is beyond compare. The work that is done at home every night. The preparations during the summer months. The pressure of the job every day to get every student to learn as much as possible. Teachers are not only the daytime guardians of all our children, they are responsible for molding every child to become an asset to society. Yes, our county's future is in the hands of our teachers. Teachers are worth every penny that they get. They did not steal those pennies from the taxpayers, they bargained for them.

Month after month after month, I hear politicians complaining about our students falling behind other counties in math and science. They complain about the dropout rates and shout about the continuing decline in our public schools. Who do we blame? We blame the teachers. So what can be done to help teachers do a better job? Fire. We need to attract less qualified people into the profession. Offer less so our best minds will have to go elsewhere to make a living. Offer less so that our best minds, who are already teaching, leave the profession to go elsewhere. Offer less so that there is low morale for those who choose to stay in the profession. Offer less so that the people who are directly responsible for shaping our future feel disrespected and unappreciated.

Anything wrong with this picture?
Not only am I angry, but also scared. Maybe the goal of one of our political parties is to gradually do away with public education all together and have education become totally private. What scares me about this is the continuation of the widening gap between classes. We seem to be on a path to having two classes in our society, the wealthy and the poor. This is the picture that I see being painted.
My only hope is that what is happening in Wisconsin and what is happening in our state is waking a sleeping giant. And how do I see this picture - teachers leading the way.
"So let's not allow this to be a case of unjustified teacher-bashing." It already is.
"We're all in this together." No, we are not.

Ken Culton

1 comment:

L said...

I'm a TRAINEE primary school teacher in the UK and I'm ALREADY feeling all the pressures you described in your eloquent and excellent article. I am relieved to find that somebody else is worrying about all the things that I am worrying about. It seems all the pressure and negativity is being fed right down to teacher training as politicians try to squeeze every last bit of energy and money they can from teachers and education.

I sincerely hope that people wake up and see that almost all teachers are doing their best (there will always be people in any profession who are not), even with many faces peering in at them, many hands meddling with policy and practice, many voices criticising them at every step and many people from all walks of life claiming that they could do better.
To the very last group I ask you this: why don't you then? I imagine that, owing to misinformation, many throwing the stones would not succeed when placed in the glass house.

I think teachers get so offended by teacher-bashing because of the amount of personality and personal commitment that goes into teaching. Late night planning, marking and creating/ finding resources, all the worrying over that one child who seems to be under - performing, despite your best efforts, the personal financial contribution that is expected.

Then there is the moral expectation placed on teachers- the constant strain of trying to have a social life but knowing that at any second a story could be placed in the local newspapers- even for something ridiculous such as posting holiday snaps online.

Well I have some food for thought:

People don't criticise a dentist if she posts a holiday snap of herself in a bikini online.

Accountants don't work overtime and in return receive poor pay.

Firemen aren't expected to spend hundreds of pounds on resources for their profession.
Recently a teacher I know asked her school for funding for printing and paper to help with costs of resources created at home. They refused. Probably because their budgets are so tight due to the constant under-funding of education.
Yet I can bet if she turned up to the lesson the next day with no worksheets or resources there would be cries of "Bad teacher!" and "Look at all the holidays teachers get and yet they can't be bothered to make resources!"

Teachers are inherently good people. If they weren't then they wouldn't do all these things for such little recognition. When was the last time you heard a teacher praised for all their hard work? When was the last time you heard of a parent thanking a teacher for supporting their child so effectively?
Teachers are constantly made a scapegoat for all that is wrong with society.
They work hard for little money (especially now the pensions and pay have been targeted by lazy Governments who can't be bothered to tax the out - of - control banks or the greedy corporations shipping workers overseas to make a profit).
They work hard and they rarely get a 'thank you'.

So why am I training to be a teacher I hear you ask?
Because I care about the future of our young people and the future of society. I think education is the most important thing in the world. Without it we would be nowhere.
Seeing a child's excitement when they discover something new, hearing a child's words of praise- "Miss, you're the best!" and feeling that somehow you have made a difference to that child's future and chances of success... well that's why.

I just wish that more was being spent on training, helping and nurturing teachers instead of over - monitoring, criticising and blaming them.