Over at Badass Teachers, we are pretty upset about Time magazine's new cover. One veteran teacher shouted: Didn't they think we would see this?
They don't care about us. We made a stupid career choice.
The people attacking education today—and make no mistake, this is a war against public education—respect money and teaching is neither a well-paid nor a respected profession these days.
We don't matter.
Try getting rid of a bad doctor. Try getting rid of everyone who is bad at their jobs. Ever had a bad contractor or a bad plumber? Ever been angry at a clerk or a waitress or loan officer who seemed to understand less about refinancing a mortgage than you do?
It happens in every field, and it also happens that people have "bad days." We expect more of teachers—that they will do wonders for every single child and consistently every single day. Most of us are doing our very best and no one feels worse than we do when we fail.
The thing is, most genuinely bad teachers don't last. But it's also true that lot of great teachers don't last. If you get right down to it, about half leave the profession whether they were any good at it or not. A few more stay but decide that teaching is too hard and go back to school to earn better money in administration, whether they were actually good teachers while they were in the classroom or not.
And it is the job of administrators, I will say yet again, to help teachers become better at their jobs or move them out of the profession. Tenure can't protect bad teachers. Let me say it again: Tenure doesn't protect bad teachers. Only bad administration can do that. I can't speak to the situation in New York City or Silicon Valley, but in my community while we still had tenure in the State of Oregon, some teachers were shoved out of their jobs and others allowed to stay and helped to do a better job. It takes a while, but it can be done. It's not my job to do it.
In the mean time, a national news magazine has joined the bandwagon in doing their best to disrespect and damage my profession. There is some danger they will destroy public education in the name of reform.
There's money in education these days: testing, textbooks, charter schools, online programs. For profit has given up complaining about what is spent to educate children and begun to find ways to carve out their piece of the pie. It's all about the money for some people.
Educators look weak and foolish to some business people. We look vulnerable, as vulnerable as the children we teach. If we had any sense, the reasoning seems to go, we would have taken our education and talent and work ethic to a profession that would pay us better. Because to some people, money is the only thing that matters.
In the mean time, the number of college students pursuing education is dropping (by 53% in the last few years in California, for example). I wonder why fewer talented young people are choosing to become teachers anymore?
[In case you wonder, that's a rhetorical question I ended with there. My third one in this post. And fragments, I have fragments. Rhetorical questions shouldn't appear at all in a formal or academic essay, and they should never be used to end one. But heck, sometimes I just get all irritated and I do whatever I darn well please. Try to stop me.]