Aug 11, 2012

ARTICLE: Sick of the Attacks

Teachers Can't Go It Alone

This is one of those readings that fill you with a bit of pride. It's nice to know that there are reasonable folks out there that see the world as it is. I'll copy one paragraph and then I'll copy a comment, which I want to tear apart.

"When our children are not reaching their full academic potential, many assert that it's because their teachers have not truly committed to their success. This focus on teacher commitment or expectations, often in isolation, as the main driver of student failure and success, ignores the larger circumstances in which teachers work with students. As this year's MetLife survey demonstrates, a combination of policy pressures and budget cuts has made teaching harder and less attractive than any time in recent decades. When we blame teachers, we fail to address the roles played by budget cuts and by family and child poverty, and we fail to recognize those who are dedicated to student success in the face of great challenges."

A comment from foresure: What I wish someone could explain to me, if teachers are so intelligent, so skilled, so hard working, and yet so underpaid and underappreciated, why don't they seek employment more commenserate with their true worth. Could it be they would have to work more than 9.5 months a year, and would likely take employment that doesn't provide life time tenure, or which would require some showing of productivity? But think of the advantages, no more undesirable kids, no more undesirable parents, no more undesirable principals, no more undesirable administrators. Oh to be Free at Last. 

This person has done a nice job of summarizing the pointless arguments against teachers. 

1) Some people find it so clever to suggest that teachers abandon the classroom for respect and prosperity. I think most teachers accept their paychecks. The problem is that legislators continue to manipulate the system, adding hoops, threats, tests, cuts, regulations, and teachers are suppose to just grin, take it, and bend to their will. If a person isn't called to this profession, she leaves in two or three years. Those called can't just leave because there are problems with the system. So, foresure, you can quit your job when it gets tough. Teachers are going to make some noise until someone listens. 

2) That's right. We work for 9.5 months. And it's a cakewalk. We show up at 8:05a and leave at 3:20p. During that time, we ask the students to sit in their desks and we talk to them. We even get 30 minutes for lunch and 50 minutes for conferences. See, it's easy to oversimplify things. It just sounds stupid and condescending. 

From The Atlantic Wire: Among 27 member nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, U.S. teachers work the longest hours, the Wall Street Journal reports. This seems particularly impressive as the U.S. has long summer vacations, and primary-school teachers only spent 36 weeks a year in the classroom, among the lowest of the countries tracked. Yet the educators spent 1,097 hours a year teaching, in the most recent numbers from 2008. New Zealand, in second place at 985 hours, had schools open for 39 weeks a year. The OECD average is 786 hours. Moreover, the hours from the OECD survey are only the time spent in the classroom. According to data from the comparable year in a Labor Department survey, U.S. teachers work in total an average of 1,913 in a year -- close to the average American's full-time hours, which are 1,932 hours a year. The blog American Society Today describes: "This statistic refutes the argument that teachers should be paid considerably less than other workers because 'teachers only work 9 months of the year.'"

3) Here, in Texas, we don't have tenure or unions. I have my opinions about both, but I'll let other people argue those issues.

4) Productivity. Year after year, students learn to read and write. They learn how to simplify fractions, describe the three branches of government, and order the planets. They learn teamwork, perspective, and harmony. But, on that side of your keyboard, you don't see it. You're probably waiting for the newspaper or news channel to report the test results. Oh, there's productivity. If you cared enough, you'd find it.

Man, I'm just sick of it. I'm tired of decisions being made by people who don't spend time in the classrooms, and I'm tired of comments from people who don't value education. Need I remind both groups that they couldn't do what they do without the work of teachers. And that's all it should take for them to care.

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