Florida teacher’s essay rallies educators for respect

A Florida teacher’s essay has gone viral on Facebook and become a rallying cry for respect. The National Education  Association has picked her essay up on its Web site.

From the NEA’s site:

“(Jamee) Miller, a National Education Association and Florida Education Association member who has been teaching for seven years, wrote the essay a year ago largely for herself and then put it away. But when the controversial Senate Bill 6 was recently careening through the GOP-controlled legislature, she dusted it off and posted it on Facebook. Education experts said SB6, which Gov. Charlie Crist ultimately vetoed last week to support teachers, would have made Florida one of the most teacher-hostile states in the country. Even though it was vetoed, similar anti-teacher efforts are cropping up in other states from like-minded opponents.”

“ ‘I was just getting so enraged because there was such ignorance from the people attacking teachers,’ says Miller. ‘Especially these misconceptions about what it is we can actually control as educators.’ ”

“Her essay, which in recent weeks was referenced on the Florida House floor, reprinted by several Florida newspapers and went viral online, has taken on a life of its own, Miller says. ‘What I’m saying isn’t unique. It’s just that the heart of that message resonates with everyone in our world.’ ”

From Jamee Miller’s “I Am a Teacher” essay:

“I am a teacher in Florida.”

“I rise before dawn each day and find myself nestled in my classroom hours before the morning commute is in full swing in downtown Orlando. I scour the web along with countless other resources to create meaningful learning experiences for my 24 students each day. I reflect on the successes of lessons taught and re-work ideas until I feel confident that they will meet the needs of my diverse learners. I have finished my third cup of coffee in my classroom before the business world has stirred. My contracted hours begin at 7:30 and end at 3:00. As the sun sets around me and people are beginning to enjoy their dinner, I lock my classroom door, having worked 4 hours unpaid.”

“I am a teacher in Florida.”

“I greet the smiling faces of my students and am reminded anew of their challenges, struggles, successes, failures, quirks, and needs. I review their 504s, their IEPs, their PMPs, their histories trying to reach them from every angle possible. They come in hungry—I feed them. They come in angry—I counsel them. They come in defeated—I encourage them. And this is all before the bell rings.”

“I am a teacher in Florida.”

“I am told that every student in my realm must score on or above grade level on the FCAT each year. Never mind their learning discrepancies, their unstable home lives, their prior learning experiences. In the spring, they are all assessed with one measure and if they don’t fit, I have failed. Students walk through my doors reading at a second grade level and by year’s end can independently read and comprehend early 4th grade texts, but this is no matter. One of my students has already missed 30 school days this year, but that is overlooked. If they don’t perform well on this ONE test in early March, their learning gains are irrelevant. They didn’t learn enough. They didn’t grow enough. I failed them. In the three months that remain in the school year after this test, I am expected to begin teaching 5th grade curriculum to my 4th grade students so that they are prepared for next year’s test.”

Click here to read the rest of her essay and then tell me what you think.

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, Momania on ajc.com. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

53 comments Add your comment

Obviously, RJ...

August 17th, 2011
1:53 pm

..I read your whole post originally since I quoted from your LAST paragraph – I could have taken issue with your “teachers ARE underpaid”, especially in light of another poster who said he makes $80K per your, and I personally do not think ALL teachers are underpaid (since, as many other posters poited out, they are paid only for the days they work- whether paid over 10 or 12 months), yet I chose to commebnt only on what you wrote LAST, and I still fail to see where ANYONE, except you, mentioned anything about “bad” teachers…

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