“Fighting for the children while the shrapnel seems only to be killing teacher after teacher.”

over (Medium)I wrote a column for the print AJC on national Teacher Appreciation Week, which I will post later today. I decided to post this essay first to kick off the week. This was written by a local teacher who asked me to withhold her name.

Here is her piece:

It’s teacher appreciation week, again, and the fact that teacher morale is at the lowest it’s probably ever been shows that our nation is ignoring the reason that the week was started in the beginning. Think of it as the educational equivalent of taking the “Christ” out of Christmas. A holiday we’ll go on celebrating arbitrarily since it no longer has anything to do with teachers themselves.

Maybe you’ll send an apple with little Suzie on Monday. Or have little Tommy write a heartfelt note on Wednesday. Then pat yourself on the back on Friday for whatever dollar store treat you gave in thanks to the one person who spends more time with your child than you do. Some of you will do it because the classroom mother bullied you into taking part. Or because that’s what your parents did. Or because you want the teacher to tack on bonus points for your child to have a higher grade. Whatever. It doesn’t matter why you do it (and trust me when I say that the irony of a gift from a parent who just cussed me out at the last conference night isn’t lost upon my colleagues or me). The fact remains that more often than not, the gestures have little or nothing to do with the teachers themselves.

Still, let’s be clear about something right from the beginning – I appreciate those tokens. I’m honestly not mocking them – heartfelt or not, it’s always nice when someone gives you a pat on the back. There’s a file that I’ve kept for over a decade with every hand-written note of appreciation I’ve ever received from my students, and on my roughest days in the classroom, I pull it out to remember why I do what I do.

It’s been getting a lot of use these last few months.

Like many of my colleagues, I went into education because I truly believe teaching is the most important job in a democratic society. It is without hyperbole when I say that I believe when public education fails, a democratic society won’t be far behind. It’s the cornerstone of the United States with far-reaching power in how we live, vote, and behave. Teachers mold not only the future professions of our country but also the present citizens who walk the streets. The responsibilities and the intrinsic rewards for teachers are massive and overwhelming all at once.

It’s exhausting. And often thankless.

We’ve reached a time in this country where teachers are the only profession being asked to ignore the fact that we live in a capitalistic society. When a teacher complains about pay, they are just being selfish and should be glad that they have a job. Because, as we all have been told from a friend or family member — you knew what you were getting into.

Well, obviously, I didn’t. None of us did.

I never expected people outside of education to create impossible standards and expectations. I never expected to be villainized in critically acclaimed documentaries about super heroes who never show up. I never expected to receive a contract that reflected a lower salary than I’ve made in the five years. And I certainly never expected to have my first amendment rights taken away when all I want to do in the world is in defense of my job. In fact, just in writing this, my job is in jeopardy for saying what so many people are feeling.

It’s beyond exhausting and thankless – it’s soul-crushing.

I’m not sure when this happened to education or when the expectations for teachers reached an all-time high while the compensation reached an all-time low. But I do know that we’re involved in a war on education in which we claim to be fighting for the children while the shrapnel seems only to be killing teacher after teacher.

Here’s my battle-cry: we are not in an either/or situation.

I can be in the fight for the children AND still expect reasonable pay. Until I can pay for groceries or my light bill with my students’ appreciation or their test scores, school districts across the country must be willing to pay teachers for their services. That’s not being selfish, just practical. And I’m not talking about the overtime spent tutoring or at meetings or at school carnivals or lesson-planning while falling asleep at night or grading essays or writing letters of recommendations for the students. I’m talking about a decent hourly wage. You expect it in your job, so why can’t I expect it at mine?

Each of us has a memory of that teacher who touched his/her life and likely changed our path in life. That’s how important this job is. I can’t say the same about any other profession with which I’ve come in contact. And yet, every other profession is able to talk about their jobs and how they’re compensated without anyone giving them a crazy look or mentioning the hours that they don’t work (seriously, stop telling teachers that you’re jealous of their summer breaks – we hate that. We’re only paid for 186 days of work, so that’s all we work. None of us get paid for the summertime that we “have off” unlike the paid vacations that many of your jobs provide). My point is, stop thinking of me as the bad guy. Help me. Help us.

You know as well as I that neither you nor your children will ever stop to remember the educational lawmaker who played an important role in your lives.

Again, I love my students. That is, after all, the one factor that keeps me going back to my profession year after year, that’s true. But don’t use that against me. Don’t pretend that I must choose between caring about them and caring about my own livelihood. Why must I choose between one or the other?

The fact that I care about what I do is exactly the reason why I will eventually not be able to afford my home. The reason I won’t be able to live in Atlanta anymore. The reason I’m held hostage into signing an unfair and possibly illegal contract year after year. The reason that my workday keeps getting longer while my pay keeps going down. The reason that there continues to be fewer teachers to appreciate each year.

Maybe that’s the real reason the week has nothing to do with us anymore.

State governments don’t care. Boards of education don’t care. We don’t expect them to. They are simply balancing a budget because that’s what we hired them to do. Well, I, too, am balancing a budget – my own. And I can’t keep paying bills when funding continues to be cut. I can’t continue to keep a career that simultaneously pretends to appreciate me yet continues to pass laws and budgets that reflect just the opposite.

There are many of you that won’t agree with me, I know that. Many of you who will read this and feel that I’m just bitter, angry, and should be glad that I even have a job. Many of you who will thank a teacher in the press then go back to your offices and pass laws against them citing them as collateral damage of a zero-budget balancing mentality. Many of you in the same profession as me who will continue to work countless hours and spend money that you don’t have on your students because you’ve bought into the idea that they matter more than you do.

Instead, before you think those thoughts about me, think about that teacher who changed your life. The one who gave selflessly his/her time, energy, and self-worth to improve you and your history. Think of how much that teacher meant to you and your path.

Now, what is that worth to you?

If you truly want to show your appreciation for that teacher, in lieu of a gift card this year, make a phone call. Let those in control of balancing budgets and passing educational reform laws know that you won’t accept the budget being broken on the backs to teachers any more. That your child’s education will not be collateral damage in for people who cannot simply balance a checkbook. That you won’t sit idly by and watch a democratic society fall apart.

Do it for the fact that the teacher who might have changed your child’s life might be one who just left the profession because it cost more to them to stay in it.

Be the Superman or woman that your teachers are waiting for. If you don’t save us, no one will.

Oh, and Happy X Appreciation Week.

Bah humbug.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

148 comments Add your comment

Two Cents

May 7th, 2012
4:00 am

I agree 100% with what has been said. I make every effort to thank the teachers often for what they have contributed to the lives of my children and grandchildren but I am sure it isn’t said often enough. I have had more battles with local politicians and the Board of Education over their treatment of our teachers than I can count only to be told basically,especially by the politicians, to shut up. The mistreatment of our teachers needs to stop.

Jason

May 7th, 2012
4:08 am

*gives Maureen a standing ovation

This is EXACTLY what teachers have been saying for years. Come on, society, work WITH teachers. Stop fighting them.

Peter Smagorinsky

May 7th, 2012
5:32 am

The fact that such a passionate educator can’t affix her name to this appeal speaks volumes about the teaching profession right now. When teachers fear that by explaining to the public how the current oppressive climate affects their will to work, they risk their jobs, there’s something horribly wrong. I hope that by some miracle Arne Duncan reads this essay so that he can see the effects of his policies, which coincide with the growth of widespread professional despair among teachers, for all the reasons that this teacher so beautifully articulates. Thanks to Maureen for printing it for us.

Western Bypass

May 7th, 2012
5:43 am

Thank you teachers!

bootney farnsworth

May 7th, 2012
5:47 am

preach on!

my only issue with her is she didn’t go far enough. our society has become Maoist in its open hostility for education.

inner city culture often states getting an education and using proper
grammer is “acting white”, while being unemployed, violent, and wearing
pants around your knees is “keeping it real”

parents and lawmakers treat us with open hostility and ridicule.

our administrators, who should be our greatest allies, are the worst offenders. besides the cronyism, nepotism, and near complete lack of the most basic restraint (yes, I mean Tricoli here, but he’s not the only one by far), our outright hostility shown towards educators is astonishing.

we claim to be about preparing students for a better life/be a contributing member of our society. truth is, we treat the students little better than we treat educators. giving them grades they didn’t earn is not a kindness. forcing them to volunteer under the guise of
“service learning” is little more than endentured servitude.

at GPC, the new Sustainability girl Joanne Chu -and we wonder why we’re millions in the hole with no idea how we got there- likes to talk about
“social justice”. how one earth can any entity claim to be for “social justice” when it is engaged in open warfare with its employees?

worst of all to me is the outright encouragment by administration to have faculty and staff turn on each other. most educators are -like it or not- enaged in bloodsport against each other. the lack of respect from our students, the hostility from our so called leaders, the contentempt shown us by the legislature has created an environment of personal and professional fratracide that makes the Hunger Games look like Woodstock.

bootney farnsworth

May 7th, 2012
5:55 am

@ Peter

we all know putting our names on our posts is professional suicide.
I admire people like Dr. John who has the cache to be able to be open about who he is, but most of us can’t take the risk.

at GPC, question something and you’ll be told you’re not a team player, you “don’t get it”, and its implied or flat out stated you’re not as good as you think you are.

then, of course, comes the “be glad you still have a job” comment/thinly veiled threat

Elizabeth

May 7th, 2012
5:56 am

She said it all. And all she she said is absolutely true.

bootney farnsworth

May 7th, 2012
5:58 am

I think we should pick a date in the fall and all walk out for the day.
from pre K to UGA, all of us walk out for an afternoon.

the biggest single reason for management encoraging us to kill each other is they know something we don’t. we’re actually more powerful than they are.

bootney farnsworth

May 7th, 2012
6:02 am

sorry about the spelling. I’m tired, pissed, and (somebody said this long ago) I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired

bootney farnsworth

May 7th, 2012
6:06 am

a simple premise:

its often asked why the kids act up so badly in the classroom.
they just openly reflect society.

society doesn’t respect what we do – why should they?

mountain man

May 7th, 2012
6:25 am

Unfortunately, things will not change until there is a true shortage of teachers who want to come into the profession. The working conditions are horrible, why any young person would ever aspire to this profession is beyond me. As for the veteran teachers, you should be looking for a professional position outside of teaching (or outside of public schools). But as long as there is this endless parade of new teachers (since the average half-life of a teacher is about 5 years), there will never be a shortage, so administrators feel they can do whatever they wish and teachers will accept it, just to have a job. Until there is a teacher shortage, things will never change.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

May 7th, 2012
6:26 am

I wonder how long it will be before the first “whining” comment is made.

Off to the trenches, my friends…

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

May 7th, 2012
6:47 am

BRAVO, Bah (H)umbug.

Moreover, Peter’s point about writer anonymity is telling. I survived a 30+-year career because of tenaciously loyal, smart lawyer-friends and my hard-nosed “Cuz’s” being the local DA.

Blame the right people...

May 7th, 2012
6:51 am

I understand her situation. I worked as a police officer for years and grew frustrated with the politicians and the public. It’s a bad situation made worse by unions, politicians, parents who don’t care and a some “bad apple” teachers.

My advice? Get out. Find a job a private school or in another teaching-type job where you are more appreciated if not better paid. You’ll be happier and enjoy life more. You are bailing water on the Titanic and howling against the wind. Get out. It won’t change and will only get worse. It took me several years to leave the police department, but it was the best move of my life. I still have the friends and good memories, but the frustrations are gone. You can still contribute to good of society but in a different way. Get out. Either that or become a politician and play the game.

Sage

May 7th, 2012
6:51 am

Retiring from teaching in 13 days after 35 years in the classroom. Enough is enough! Sine die!

Blame the right people...

May 7th, 2012
6:53 am

Sorry for the typos, but you hit a nerve and I typed before thinking. Great for a comment on teaching! I be edumacated!

Jack

May 7th, 2012
7:09 am

Circumstances are such that I talk to teachers on a regular basis. None of them are happy with the present system and the number one problem is unruly students. They can’t teach to the students who want to learn due to having to deal with students who have no idea how to even act like a student. As always, the problems start at the child’s home.

teacher&mom

May 7th, 2012
7:14 am

Our small system will experience a record number of retirements this year. A few more are leaving the profession earlier than planned. Solid, competent teachers are walking out the door.

And guess what?

Due to the failure of our state legislators to PROTECT education, not a single position will be filled.

We are going to increase class sizes….again. We are going to cut programs….again.

We are at a tipping point in this state and in my district. The long term effects are chilling and for some students will be irreversible.

I wish I had the nerve to add my real name to these posts. I once commented on Jay Matthew’s blog about the whistleblowers who were fired or reassigned in APS. The commenters were appalled at the lack of support for those teachers. Many wanted to know why the union did not protect those teachers.

Teachers in GA have no protection. None whatsoever. And those in power intend to keep it that way.

Morale is at an all-time low.

school_is_home

May 7th, 2012
7:22 am

Cry me a river. I’ve met a few social workers in my time, I suspect that their hearts bleed for you and they’re all hoping you’ll walk in their shoes for 180 days.
- don’t sign the contract, they can’t spank you if you don’t,
- do a little more due diligence before you pick your next career
- lobby a teacher-turned-politician to protect your ability to be a whistleblower, as uncovering the ills jeopardizes your job. What say you? Low pay, bad working conditions, horrible bosses, defective work materials, unsafe working conditions? Unionize, my friend.

Some of what I’ve written is sarcasm, some tongue-in-cheek. While I value good teachers (even the ones that rub me the wrong way), society is showing you that they don’t value your efforts. Quit whining and pick a solution that you like and exercise your democratic right to do something about it. Something likely to result in results other than a reprimand or worse.

school_is_home

May 7th, 2012
7:41 am

@I love teaching … oops, just realized that I’m the first “quit your whining” comment. I feel sorry for them, but seriously, I’ve been to poor countries and I’ve been to the former East Germany. The rest of the world would kill to have our problems and some of the things that Americans complain about is truly whining while Rome is burning.

Just read a story about 2 doctors that started a hospice for children because they didn’t like the current options. Why don’t some (more) of the teachers band together and create institutions of learning to compete with public schools and show them how it *ought* to be done? Are there none within the ranks smart enough to do this? How about a business plan competition for teachers? Given the current budget of your school system, design a more effective and efficient way of delivering your product to market.

The more I think about it, the more fun I’m having. For example, children will not be allowed into the classroom unless a parent/social worker shows up at least twice per year for conference. Children who’ve had X disciplinary actions must have a parent (or proxy) chaperone the child through an entire week of school. Food and mentors for all children in need. No supplies from the teacher’s pocket – get creative.
That’s all my free time for today. I must go tend my children as I don’t want to have to chaperone them for a week later on.

Angela

May 7th, 2012
7:47 am

Good Morning All and Especially DCSS,

It is more than apparent that our SUPER thinks that we are stupid. Our treat is an apple and cookie.
Does she really have some nerve. Is this suppose to keep us quiet? How much money did she spend on apples and cookies? This_____________ (you fill in the blank) is truly crazy.

Perhaps it is time to stage a real walk-out and merge over to central office.

Ron F.

May 7th, 2012
7:48 am

“But as long as there is this endless parade of new teachers (since the average half-life of a teacher is about 5 years), there will never be a shortage, so administrators feel they can do whatever they wish and teachers will accept it, just to have a job. Until there is a teacher shortage, things will never change.”

How very sad, but yet how true. Unfortunately, it will take that for those in power to realize that teachers are a more important commodity that oil, and that we can’t continually heap coals on their heads for the ills of the entire society.

As I thought about this topic this morning, I realized that I do feel appreciated for the most part by parents. Maybe I’m lucky, but every parent I talk to is at least somewhat supportive. The appreciation wanes quickly the further up the administrative chain. By the time you reach the state legislature, we’re villains. If there’s a systemic problem, it’s in our leadership and unfortunately they’re the ones controlling the dollars and the environment within which we work. Their only allegiance is to the big dollar donors, not the constituents who elected them. Until we clean up the state house, nothing will change.

Jeff

May 7th, 2012
7:50 am

Both my wife and I are FORMER teachers. Me for a couple of reasons, and the conditions being the one that ultimately broke the camel’s back. Her, specifically because of the conditions. She literally had her dream job – working as a teacher in the very HS she had graduated from just a few years earlier, working almost within walking distance of the house she grew up in. Yet she quit after the end of last year, because the conditions even in our fairly ideal small SWGA County were absolutely disgusting. When we first met, I had just quit teaching in the middle of the school year due to the conditions. Before we were engaged, I had a job in my degree field – programming. That first job, we actually made roughly the same amount of money – her as a 4th year teacher, me as a first year programmer. 5 years later, she quit a year ago and I am very nearly double the salary she had when we got engaged. I think she was MAYBE 3k higher than when we met when she quit. Now, I do some pretty impressive work – I’ve done work that literally controlled the nuclear waste at the Savannah River Site, and I currently work for the leading anesthesiology billing software company in the nation (and possibly the world). And I currently work for a private firm. But if you HAVE to pay taxes, who would you rather that money go to: the cop who will murder your grandmother without blinking an eye (hello Kathryn Johnston), or the teacher who will give everything they have to do the job that you either cannot or will not do yourself?

GIKJH

May 7th, 2012
7:50 am

“Each of us has a memory of that teacher who touched his/her life and likely changed our path in life.”

Yeah, and each of us also has many, many more memories of the power-tripping, time-serving drones who made our lives miserable for twelve years. Based on your level of self-regard, I think I’m safe in guessing you’re one of those.

Joe Frank

May 7th, 2012
7:52 am

While I agree that the profession of teacher had come under more review in recent tmes. you kinda got what you wanted. As pay has risen, so has scrutiny. Say what you want, in GA teaches are paid more than at least those in 45 other states. The bosses? Were they not former teachers? The main reason your cries fall on deaf ears in society is that we really can’t see what or why you are complaining? Work hours you say? Most of us “work” for far more hours per week, in worse environments, and for less money. All I can think to reply to you is, “things are tough all over!”

Entitlement Society

May 7th, 2012
7:55 am

Just curious – why do most of the disgruntled teachers seem to be from the public schools? Do teachers at private schools face the same issues? I am honestly asking the question…

Do the math

May 7th, 2012
8:03 am

I wish someone could ensure that Chip Rogers reads this.

Mary Elizabeth

May 7th, 2012
8:08 am

“I’m not sure when this happened to education or when the expectations for teachers reached an all-time high while the compensation reached an all-time low.”
================================================

You cannot solve a problem until you can correctly analyze what caused the problem. The assault on teachers started with the stealthy assault on state governmental workers by ALEC, and others with a market-based, private-sector ideological agenda for our nation. (See link below.) Once teachers have been maligned sufficiently to sway the general public against them, by this stealthy propaganda, then those market-based ideological types (who seek profit in everything), can soar into state governments with a “school choice” agenda, in which the private market will control education for profit. Teachers will have less pay and less benefits than they presently do. State Rep. Jan Jones, who sponsored the state charter school amendment to Geogria’s Consitution bill that will be on the ballot in November, also sponsored a bill in this past legislative session which would have curtailed teachers in state charter schools from becoming members of Georgia’s Teacher Retirement System.

State employees have been cut in states across the nation by .5%, but in Republican states they have been cut by 2.5%.

Parents, if you allow the market place to control every aspect of our cultural life, including education, in the long-run especially, your children will suffer the consequences.

The link, below, entitled, “ALEC puts its fangs to education,” was written by a member of NEA:

http://www.educationvotes.nea.org/2012/05/03/alec-puts-its-fangs-to-education/

Teacher Reader

May 7th, 2012
8:09 am

As a former teacher, I do not understand why teachers complain. If you don’t like teaching, what it’s become, what it’s becoming, how much you get paid, the long hours worked during the school year, the summers off, etc, than move on. Teacher appreciation is a made up holiday. One should not get into teaching because of the pay and needing praise. There are many other professions that are not thanked for the good that they do. I’ve taught in truly rough environments and had parents give me positive feed back in words and short notes which have meant more than any teacher appreciation week gifts that I have ever received. Unsolicited praise is much more meaningful than the stuff received during teacher appreciation week. Does the unsolicited come often? No, but it so much more meaningful.

Teachers will get respect when they stop complaining and actually put that energy in to their jobs.

Bas

May 7th, 2012
8:11 am

“Each of us has a memory of that teacher who touched his/her life and likely changed our path in life.”

Yeah, and each of us also has many, many more memories of the power-tripping, time-serving drones who made our lives miserable for twelve years. Based on your level of self-regard, I think I’m safe in guessing you’re one of those.

something has to give

May 7th, 2012
8:13 am

The essay brought tears to my eyes. Our country is positioning itself to be taken over my a totalitarian leader. This is the prime time to spread propaganda. Promise teachers that they will get a hefty pay raise, reduced class sizes, and classroom support, and they will most likely cast a ballot in your favor.

I agree with the previous poster.
Georgia’s teachers need to unionize and plan a massive walk-out during the fall. Drastic measures are needed immediately.

And There It Is

May 7th, 2012
8:15 am

Two people, as predicted, making comments about whining. If you haven’t been in a classroom, you have no idea what this teacher is talking about, and you need to shut your piehole. Did you actually read and think about what the writer was saying, or did you skim the first paragraph and jump down to comment?

When I started teaching 13 years ago, it was nothing like it is today. I am a passionate educator; I LOVE my job, and I do it for all the right reasons (kids, kids, and kids). When I quit public school two years ago, I was making very good money because of my experience and master’s degree in education. I never whined about salary, even when it froze, because that’s not what it was about for me, and believe it or not, that’s not what it’s about for most educators.

Everything in the essay above is 100% true. You can blow it off and talk about huge salaries and summers off, but I didn’t have one colleague who had summers “off,” and most teachers work summer jobs or tutor throughout the year to make ends meet. In addition, they take classes to keep up with the ridiculous “new” reforms that are constantly implemented. There was not one year in the last six of my career in GA without some “reform” or program being implemented.

I still teach, but I do it in a private school I started. It is 100% about the kids; if it doesn’t benefit them, it doesn’t happen. The pay is lousy, I don’t have benefits and there is no time off, but it is the best job I have ever had.

Entitlement Society, there is some of this in private schools, but not nearly as much and/or the issues are different. It is case-by-case for private schools widespread in public schools.

Caught you

May 7th, 2012
8:18 am

I see Maureen is censoring posts again. Just like a typical petty-tyrant public school teacher, always ready to dish it out, never able to take it.

irisheyes

May 7th, 2012
8:19 am

@I Love Teaching, to answer your question about the first “whining” comment. It looks like 23. I’m sure there will be more as the morning rolls on.

Old Physics Teacher

May 7th, 2012
8:21 am

“I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming…”

The answer is: 7:22 minus 6:26 equals…? 56 minutes!!! That’s how long.

Guys, my daddy taught me that, “What you do speaks so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying!” Read “school-is-home”s comments. She’s telling you what ‘conservatives’ are doing. They don’t care about public school teachers. They want them destroyed. Everything the ‘conservatives’ do toward education is specifically designed to drive the teachers out of public education. That way, if there are no teachers, there are no public schools. It’s just that simple! Either you can believe one of two possibilities: (A) Either the ‘conservatives’ are just that stupid, that they really believe that instead of teaching readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic, to every child that wants to learn, we can teach a love of poetry, algebra, geometry, AND trigonometry to EVERY CHILD THAT WALKS IN OUR DOORS, or (B) they KNOW they have given us an impossible task and are trying to destroy the (alert, alert – sarcasm coming) industry. You pick – your profession depends on it.

Oh, and by the way, until we stop the practice of taking failing, spineless teachers and putting them in administrative positions of power over us, the (sarcasm coming again) “support staff” will continue to help out the ‘conservatives.’ You know: stupid is as stupid does. Disclaimer: I voted for Goldwater, Nixon and Regan – and would again.

fultonschoolsparent

May 7th, 2012
8:22 am

me

May 7th, 2012
8:24 am

Pay raise? I haven’t had a pay raise in 5 years. My husband pulls in as much money working side jobs as I do a month teaching. A little ridiculous. I wish those of you who have never stepped foot in a classrom after you graduated would come spend a week trying to teach students who don’t want to learn, measure up to administrative standards that are impossible with your resources, and conference with parents that won’t answer your phone calls or show up to meetings to discuss their child who never does anything wrong and it must just be you.

TaylorVol

May 7th, 2012
8:28 am

I agree wholeheartedly with the teacher. Teachers, firefighters, nurses, and police aren’t paid what they are worth. They do more for our communities than any other profession. True story, my wife was attempting to provide “additional credentials” which would mean about $2,000 in additional annual salary. The “central office” employee asked why this was important, and if she was only doing the job for the money??? This was an aid position that barely even paid for daycare! Unbelievable, I guess the central office expects folks to volunteer. Ha.

MJ McKay

May 7th, 2012
8:32 am

something has to give

May 7th, 2012
8:33 am

@ Former Teacher: You make no sense. We live in a capitalistic society, so pay is important. People in other professions make more money than teachers. I could care less about the thanks, but I would like compensation. I cannot tell Georgia Power, SCANA, or the mortgage company that I am paying them with “thank yous.”

HS Public Teacher

May 7th, 2012
8:36 am

Teachers, especially the good ones, are giving up on the profession. It just isn’t worth it anymore – even if you are in it “for the children.” Two of five in my department are leaving.

No one really appreciates what a teacher goes through day to day. Too many (I would say most) students are completely rude and disrespectful. The students assume that the teacher will provide pencils and paper and don’t even bother to say thank you (forget that the teacher pays for this out of her pocket). The kids are rude and mean to the ADULTS and don’t care.

Why do they not care? Because their parents raised them that way. How can I say that? Well, after years of calling home and parent/teacher meetings it is easy to see where these kids get their behavior.

Many parents attack teachers at every turn. I have called home out of concern for their child only to be scolded for hours. I have had a mother break down on me and go on to complain about her husband. During a parent/teacher meeting, I have had a parent actually say that their child is “perfect” and could never do anything wrong! Interestingly, that “perfect” child threw curse words around DURING the meeting….. and the parent said nothing!

I could go on and on.

However, the bottom line is this – forget about charter vs. public or even private vs. public – what will the children do once every single last GOOD teacher is run out of the profession????? All that will be left are the ones that cannot get a job anywhere else and are nothing more than warm bodies to baby sit.

Is this what you (the general public in Georgia) want?

RJ

May 7th, 2012
8:38 am

“Teacher appreciation is a made up holiday.” Well, aren’t all holidays made up?

Georgia code does not allow teachers to engage in collective bargaining. That means no unions! It would be great if we could. The working conditions are awful. We have few rights. I work well over 40 hours a week. I spent this past Saturday working at the school for our spring festival. I tutor for free after school even though it’s not in my area of certification. I’m tired. The kids are awful. Really awful. Nothing is being done. The 2012-2013 school year will be my last. I have to move on to keep my sanity.

carlosgvv

May 7th, 2012
8:39 am

In a country where the only real allegiance politicians have is to their wealthy sponsors, this and other disgusting situations is precisely what you may expect.

Anonmom

May 7th, 2012
8:51 am

When you have billions of dollars, per year, per system going into education; and you start to focus on how much is being wasted (and abused, and, I say, criminally mis-directed) at the top — it it time to develop a way to feed all of the money into the bottom layer (that being the school house rather than administration). Our systems are enormous governmental machines… just like DC. They feed plenty of jobs (not really in the classroom) — they take dollars from taxpayers and use them to pay the “mouths” of the “workers” at these levels. This is where, competition, free market, choice and, yes, vouchers, starts to really make sense — start to break the dollars into small components ($10,000 increments for easy numbers) that are in the hands of hundreds of thousands of parents instead of billions of dollars in the hands of a few people. Then, the parents can be required to direct the money directly into the school house where the first mouths fed will be teachers, for the benefit of the students, and the last mouths fed would be administrators. This would also discourage so many from going into administration. That’s the theory. It would need to be set up appropriately. The free market that American society has offered for 300+ years is a remarkable achievement. The unopen market of China and Cuba and the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany are not so wonderful. Greece and Spain and France are socialist and are having major problems right now. We have the best system out there. It’s high time we take the resources we are currently spending on education and apply these same principals to education. Really, read Gatto’s books — he was a very highly regarded teacher for 30 years in the NYC public school system. He was Ivy League educated and it’s pretty well footnoted. Amuse yourself. Then think about what you, yourself, know has happened in APS and DCSS….. think about it.

Angela

May 7th, 2012
8:55 am

@Teacher Reader,

I appreciate your comments however, no one works for free unless they are volunteering. We did not chose this profession to be volunteers. Since you say we are whining might I ask you a question?
Did you accept or reject your pay check? Are you rejecting or accepting your retirement check? If , you rejected your pay and is rejecting your pay your have put your money where your mouth is.
We need more people like you in this curel old world.

Drew

May 7th, 2012
8:57 am

186 DAYS!!!!! Mine has been cut to 170 with the possibility of 160 this coming year. I have lost close to 6000 in pay over the last three years. Great letter! oh yes, the fact that we have to invest an average of over 30 grand to get to teach is what a lot of people forget!

Double Zero Eight

May 7th, 2012
9:02 am

To say that “teaching is a thankless job” would be
an understatement. If politicians, bureaucrats and
administrators would get of of the way of teachers,
the results would be amazing. If parents would do
their jobs in addition to the aforementioned, the results
would be astronomical.

My Two Cents

May 7th, 2012
9:07 am

EXACTLY why I left teaching, and it was the best decision I ever made. Ever. Even above marrying my husband or having my kids, because had I not left teaching, I would perhaps no longer have my husband, or be able to enjoy my time with my kids. I have nothing positive to say about public education in our country, except that I am positive that my kids will never attend a public school.

My Two Cents

May 7th, 2012
9:08 am

Ooops, posted that last comment too soon. I should make clear that I don’t blame TEACHERS for what is wrong with public education.

MannyT

May 7th, 2012
9:12 am

The issues stated are not limited to one school system, they are much broader.
One suggestion…time for teachers to start a national Super PAC.
You don’t need unions to have a Super PAC.

One example to consider…seems like anyone can do it