This afternoon, after school, I was checking out some news headlines online, and came across a piece - I'm sure you saw it, too - about Providence, RI sending notice to all teachers in their district that they may be laid off at the end of the school year. Of course they are not planning on laying off ALL of their teachers, but some will be, and since they haven't decided who, they gave everyone notice. A big boost to job morale, there. The worst part? I think that lay-offs will be happening in many school districts across the country. There are other things that concern me about school district finances, but if I talk about them now, I'll get off track. More off track?
Anyway, I read through the article, and then scrolled through a very few of the comments. The author of one of them wrote that teachers should just do more without more pay. Really? Hmmm.
Another bit of news I read was about the current American distribution of wealth. The reality, VS the perception. The gap is wide, although it didn't surprise me, really. I've been aware of the difference in earning power between my parents, and me for a while now. Here in NM, my Master's Degree is worth a little over 40k per year as a public school teacher. 40K per year is - according to the chart in that article - barely over the poverty level. I put in full time hours every week, during the school day. I plan lessons, and prepare materials. This year, I've bought all the paper I've used for handouts. I've had to, to make sure I had paper. I buy the ink for the printer in my classroom. Many of my students expect me to provide basic school supplies for them. How do you expect me to do any work if you won't give me a pencil or paper? seems to be their attitude. I stay after school, sometimes more than two hours, when our activity bus runs to take the students home. I call parents with good news and bad news. I grade papers in the evenings and on the weekends. I take materials home over the summer to be ready for the new school year. I care about these young people and their futures. What more should I be expected to do?
I understand and agree that there are problems with our educational system. Our governmental mandates are not helping to fix the problems. Demands for higher test scores and threats to teachers and schools who do not meet them do not make a better system. Budgets which raise teacher to student ratios, and causes classes to not be offered or supported financially don't help either. Will getting rid of teachers help the problems that the educational system faces? The teaching profession - at least in the public school system - seems to be fast becoming an untenable one. After all the trained professionals are gone, who will teach these students? Who will take our place? Who will teach your children? (I know I can teach mine).