February 4, 2016 by Good Teachers Work Hard
Like many current and former teachers, I am angry. I am angry at an educational system that allows the government to dictate its every move. I am angry at the government puppets legislators who think they have a be-all-end-all solution to the troubles the United States educational system faces. I am angry at the “dead wood” teachers who went into the profession in order to collect a pension and have summers off, instead of placing our children first. I am angry that our students are, in many cases, disciplined by serving an out of school suspension (re: vacation). I am angry at administrators and school boards who allow politics to dictate their hiring decisions, promotions, and favorable evaluations, thus promoting favoritism and resentment in the workplace. I am angry that teachers have to constantly work with less funding, yet are expected to promote results that are nothing short of spectacular. I am angry that standardized testing companies are making a fortune from test administration, while teachers’ salaries lag far behind, despite multiple requirements for advanced degrees and professional education. I am angry that yearly evaluations still do not measure the true value of a good teacher. I am angry that the general public is so quick to judge teachers – they are idolized when they save our children from gunmen, yet are ostracized the second they ask for more funding to do their job properly or quality health care for their families. I am angry that some teachers work at schools where breaking up gang fights, drug deals, and riots fall under the category of “…and other duties as assigned”. For these reasons, and many others that have affected me personally, I have one thing to say…
I never imagined that those two words would ever cross my lips with regard to my chosen profession. I love teaching. Imparting knowledge to students is my strength. I prided myself on my ability to reach the students who typically did not enjoy school. Somehow, I managed to reach them, teach them, and show them I cared. But, wherever I taught, it was made perfectly clear that by doing the exact things that students needed, I was not utilizing my time in the most “efficient” way (re: teaching students to fill in circles on standardized tests, much like chimpanzees – no offense to the primates). By doing just what my kids needed, I received lower evaluation scores and condemnation from my administrators. There was no room for kindness in the “one-size-fits-all” approach. Students come to school hungry, beaten, high, sick, cold, suicidal, unkempt, homeless, and not speaking English, but there is no room for compassion in this system, which was EXACTLY what these kids need. Every day, I felt like a doctor who knew how to treat my patients, yet the medicine was in a locked cabinet which I was not allowed to utilize. Other factors influenced my decision, such as receiving $100 per year for supplies – for 153 students. That is an allotment of $0.65 per student, for an ENTIRE YEAR. I am incredibly thrifty, but I struggled with that amount, particularly in my field (I was a science teacher who was expected to provide labs throughout the year for my students). I can’t even buy them each a small coffee for that paltry amount. The situation was somewhat easier when I began teaching in 2006, when I had a budget of $1000 per year for only 145 students. At least I was given $6.90 per student back then! These are the direct effects of budget cuts and increased class size.
I have thus decided to write this blog in the hopes of sharing what the American school system is REALLY like. This blog is for parents, students, teachers, former teachers, administrators, lawmakers, relatives of students, taxpaying citizens,…well, you get the idea. Some of the stories will be personal, some will be from other educators, and some will have more of an op-ed flair. For current teachers, I will be sharing some of my resources with you (as I have no use for them anymore, but please know I have the utmost respect for you and what you are trying to accomplish in the classroom). Enjoy the fruits of my labor and keep fighting the good fight. I am on your side, and for that, I am not angry.