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

jarvis

August 16th, 2011
8:48 am

My wife’s year didn’t start off great yesterday. Stress in my household is already at the breaking point, and it’s only the second day of school.

melissa

August 16th, 2011
9:01 am

the 3rd paragragh is one of the main reasons there is an APS cheating scandal…it makes no kind of sense. the ppl that make the rules i.e. no child left behind have the slightest idea of what’s going on in the classroom. forget “numbers” come into the school to really see what’s going on. the lack respect that teachers get is beyond me, they are not just teachers like she states…i really hope this essay along with the cheating scandal makes ppl wake up to the truth. this is the truth!

I Love Life Cereal

August 16th, 2011
9:03 am

This I Am A Teacher was perhaps a bit too long, but makes some great points. Based in reality, too!

My step sister-in-law (elementary school teacher) has told me some of the garbage she’s had to deal with. It is extremely disappointing and her hands are tied.

My personal advice is GET OUT. If you know you can do better and are forced to be miserable and mistreated within a structure you work within, why stay there?

If you can’t change something, move on. Life is too short.

NikNak

August 16th, 2011
9:04 am

So if everyone agrees that the most important thing is for each individual child to make PROGRESS throughout the year and they insist on using standardized testing to do this, why is there not a baseline test at the beginning of the year? That way, the students are measured again at the end of the year and compared against themselves, not each other or some arbitrary test.

Techmom

August 16th, 2011
9:35 am

The rant was far too long. She makes good points but it’s nothing new. She needs to move if she’s only making $28k per year.

RJ

August 16th, 2011
9:40 am

Great essay! This is the reality of teaching in America. Maybe one day someone will actually listen to educators before making decisions in education…well, I can dream!

I am a worker in Atlanta...

August 16th, 2011
9:43 am

…I am not denigrating what she does, as teachers are some of my heroes (soldiers are first and foremost). However, she is embellishing her cause with statements like this: “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”, and “As the sun sets around me and people are beginning to enjoy their dinner, I lock my classroom door, having worked 4 hours unpaid.” . This would mean she gets to school at 4:30am, and leaves at 7:30pm (which is actually 8 hours “unpaid”).

Again, I am not saying she does not do this – BUT, each and EVERY exempt employee who works for an employer and does not punch a time clock is on call 24/7 and may work the same hours that she does, and as the salary dictates, those hours for non-school teachers ARE NOT paid either. Plus, most employees get 2-4 weeks vacation, plus about 10 holidays per year – most teachers get at least 8 weeks vacation in the summer, one week vacation at Thanksgiving, 2 weeks vacation at Christmas, one week spring break vacation, and maybe 2-4 days elsewhere during the school year.

Before this goes further, maybe she needs to talk to people who are not teachers and see how they cope with such difficult working conditions…

I will agree that the “No child left behind” BS is just that., as it does not allow for the difficulties she outlines with slower paced learners in any given classroom…

DB

August 16th, 2011
10:28 am

Her rant was too long? She sat down one day, frustrated and exasperated, and wrote from the heart. She hadn’t planned for it to become a national sensation — she was just pissed off. Personally, I think every point she made was crystal-clear in its clarity, especially the promises made at the time of employment in terms of raises, etc., and how those promises are thrown away at administrative whim. How many of us would stick it out if we were told by our employers that we had to buy our own $120 ink cartridges and glue sticks for the rest of the office? Not many . . .

Lori

August 16th, 2011
10:39 am

NikNak, great idea to measure a student at the beginning and end of the year. My sister is a 5th grade teacher. Her kids have to pass this year or they don’t get to go to middle school. But she has kids who have come to her who can barely read and who couldn’t pass a 2nd grade math test. It is unrealistic to expect a teacher to get these students up to speed in one year when they are 3 years behind, yet that is what we are demanding from these teachers.

@ I Am A Worker

August 16th, 2011
10:46 am

First, where do you get in the teacher’s essay that she arrives at work at 4:30 a.m.? None of her words actually or implicitly say this at all. Reading comprehension is important. You should have learned that from a few of your teachers.

Second, if you balance out all the “unpaid” time teachers put in after school (which she speaks to), add to that the fact that many teachers don’t get a true lunch break because they are on lunch duty with their students (and if they do have “duty-free” lunch it’s only 30 minutes, not the hour lunch break most workers get), and add to that the fact that TEACHERS DON’T GET BATHROOM BREAKS or smoking breaks (again, like most workers do), then all that time off you mention (summer, spring, holidays, etc.) evens out completely with the time off of those in the non-teaching profession.

No, I am not a teacher. But I married one and am the grandchild of two teachers, and I work in the education field (though not in the schools/classrooms where all the hard work is done). Before spewing nonsense, please do some research examining a day in the life of a good teacher. I think you’ll come to the conclusion that most of these men and women are closer to modern day saints than the political footballs they have become to many (including, unfortunately, the Obama Administration and Arne Duncan).

Mad Russian

August 16th, 2011
10:52 am

This is a rant? No, it’s a personal journal of her job and a reminder of the importance of her choice to be a teacher. Although the elected plebes of Florida are using her thoughts as political ammo for their re-elections I applaud her for showing the world how she feels. Her reasons are the same reason why I am a teacher and I do the same thing everyday. Show up early, stay late, mentor students, and I really could care less about bonuses since the cliche bonus for me is when I run into former students that tell me how much I impacted their lives.

Hey, @I am a worker in Atlanta...

August 16th, 2011
10:57 am

…my reading comprehension took her “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” to mean that she was at work “hours before the morning commute is in full swing” – since most rush hour commutes in major cities, of which, I believe is considered major (at least it has been when I have been stuck in traffic there) begins at about 7 am, I take comprehend the word “hours” to mean more than 2 – and that is how I comprehended that she go to work at about 4:30am, accoridng to what she wrote…

And, speaking of comprehension, I believe you need to re-read that first sentence of my original post…and no, I , too, am not a teacher, but I, too, am married to one, and she comes from a family where her mom, and five her her aunts, and three of her first cousins, all teach (or taught) for over 30 years each, so I am just a little familiar with what goes on in and out of the classroom…so, please cool your jets…thank you very much…

Hey, @I am a worker in Atlanta...

August 16th, 2011
10:59 am

…and, please, pardon the many typos in my last post…

RJ

August 16th, 2011
11:02 am

@I am a worker in Atlanta…, those eight weeks are unpaid vacation days. Teachers are only paid for 190 days. Also, most schools systems do not have a week for Thanksgiving, it’s only 3 days. Please do some research before making assumptions. Also, what additional 2-4 days are you speaking of? You can start by counting calendar days beginning with teacher pre-planning week and ending with post-planning days.

homeschooler

August 16th, 2011
11:23 am

@ RJ – You say teachers are only paid for 190 days. Well, that’s obvious because they only work 190 days. Whether you are considering 10 months work with two months unpaid vacation or 12 months work (in which they are not working for 2 months) It’s still 40,000 per year (approx) for a 10 month period.
I do greatly respect teachers. This is just a bit of a sore spot with me because I work for DFCS and we get paid so much less for the same amount of disrespect, bureaucratic BS and headaches. I have not had a raise in 7 yrs. I have been furloughed one day monthly for 4 yrs and my insurance premiums have doubled in the past 8 yrs.
DFCS is in much the same state as the school system (because the government can’t do anything right) so I am right with teachers in their feelings of fighting a losing battle.
The only way you can manage these kinds of jobs is to think outside the box, fly under the radar and do everything you know you can do to make it more manageable and to provide the services you need to for these kids. I try not to complain because it does no good. Fix what you can, yourself and let the rest of it go.
It would be nice if we lived in a society where people who are trusted with protecting and educating our children had the highest level of respect. It would be nice if society would have the highest expectations of these employees and pay them accordingly (and let them go if they did not measure up) but we don’t.

RJ

August 16th, 2011
11:46 am

@homeschooler, if it were obvious regarding how we were paid, I wouldn’t repeatedly read that we have paid summers off. Just curious, what are the education and certification requirements for DFCS employees in your position?

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

August 16th, 2011
12:04 pm

I’m sympathetic to her plight, unfortunately to blame all her woes on the government and her district is a little short sighted in my opinion. The teacher’s unions have helped create this mess as well. I’m on board with the vast majority of her positions on the accurate testing and evaluation of students. She is right, the government should change their ways on that.

However, when she starts comparing her pay and salary to others less educated than her in other fields making more and equating that teacher pay and evaluations should be more on par with private industry, her biggest opponent is going to be her own union that fights for tenure and incremental pay steps regardles of the quality of your work. Teachers have fought very hard to ensure they are not treated like private industry treats their employees. She said it herself, she was promised incremental pay raises year after year. Guess what, I work in private industry and I have NEVER been promised that. I was told that my company usually has a pool that will average 3%-5% for employee raises. I was also told in no uncertain terms that if I was a rock star here, I could possibly get more than that 5%, if I was average, I could expect the average, if I sucked, I could expect nothing, and if I really sucked, I could expect to be fired.

So while I agree with much of what she has to say, there is much left unsaid that needs to be addressed.

homeschooler

August 16th, 2011
12:05 pm

Bachelors level degree. I have a masters degree so I get 5 percent more pay and I get an additional 5 percent because I work nights. Even with the additional $ I make approx 38,000 a year (with the furlough). I have worked for DFCS 18 yrs. Starting workers make $26,000.00.

Ob Server

August 16th, 2011
12:27 pm

The reason not all teachers belong to teachers’ unions is that unions are militant, stridently opposed to real education reform—and partisan Democrat. It’s the UNIONS parents and taxpayers are fed up with, not educators.

Ms. Miller purposely ignores all that. She needs to view the film “Waiting for Superman” and then give the NEA(Georgia Association of Educators here in Georgia) the boot!

KimZ'sPackage

August 16th, 2011
12:43 pm

Last time I checked. A person doesn’t RALLY for respect. They work hard to Earn it.

Ryan Winston

August 16th, 2011
12:46 pm

It’s stories like this one that needs more spotlight! I’m currently working towards earning my Master’s of Education at this school: http://www.cu-portland.edu/ and this womans impressive work ethic shouldn’t all go to waste from one test! I hope that we as a nation can start getting our act together regarding this education debacle.

waterstim

August 16th, 2011
12:54 pm

If parents were doing their jobs, this wouldn’t be an issue.

KimZ'sPackage

August 16th, 2011
12:56 pm

I don’t really VALUE an On-Line Degree. Sorry I just think it is an EZ path to a higher paycheck. Some On-Line work and classes OK, but not the Whole Degree Program.

NAGA

August 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

No bad-mouthing of the union that she is a member??? Interesting.

No bad-mouthing of fellow teachers who have sex with the kids they teach??? Interesting.

No bad-mouthing of teachers who cheat? Interesting.

Funny I have taken my kids in years past to school for clubs, sports, etc. early in the morning & noticed very, very few teachers around the school.

NAGA

August 16th, 2011
1:20 pm

Obozo should make you teachers happy. He is seeking relief from standardized testing. Yes, we can now concentrate on graduating every kid now whether they can pass a test or not.

sloboffthestreet

August 16th, 2011
1:31 pm

My daughter started her 4th year as a teacher in Florida yesterday. She earned over $40,000 last year, she has a four year degree and loves her job. She gets to school on time and leaves when the day is over. Her principal gives her high marks and the teachers request her to be their childrens teacher. I like the sound of the letter but find it a little self serving. My personal experience with our son’s school is that teachers rush to make it to their classrooms on time and are often late and the parking lot is empty by 3:30 daily except for administration and the after care program employees. The end result year after year is marginal. The rest of the world works 250 days a year, most without benefits including retirement. Most do not have sick or personal days and any continued education is done at night or on the weekends at their own cost. So please stop with the pity party and get busy. You have a job to do.

George

August 16th, 2011
1:32 pm

I feel her pain she must be a first year level four teacher because metro teachers pay began over forty thousand a year with a master. I make almost eighty thousand a year she needs to move and get PAID.she seens like a very dedicated educator.

Educator

August 16th, 2011
1:49 pm

Republicans have long wanted to destroy public education along with all other benefits provided by governmental agencies for the Middle Class or poorer people. It is doubly unfortunate that many Democratic politicians have agreed to help Republicans destroy public education.

Of course, the tests used to test students in Atlanta were invalid and unreliable for evaluating teachers and schools. Were the teachers wrong to destroy test results of invalid and unreliable tests?

We must ask teachers to determine an evaluation process for improving public education since they know that professional skill better than any politicians including the present ones in our state and national governments. Our public education system is deteriorating because teachers are shown little respect and have always been poorly paid. Business likes to tell us you get what you pay for—thus, our current public education system today. Read this professional teacher’s essay and understand that her words point the way to improvement in public education.

Standardized tests are the easiest way for those who so desire to destroy public education when the tests of children’s abilities in a few subjects are used to evaluate a teacher’s or a school’s worth. Let’s get serious about supporting public education.

Chris

August 16th, 2011
1:50 pm

I married a 9th-10th grade math teacher who deals with a lot of these same issues. There are arguments on both sides of the fence…i.e. summer vacations about the benefits and long hours and various students on the disruptive side. Sure, the summer breaks are nice, but you think about all of the work that she comes home with, having to grade 120-plus students’ assignments, whether it’s homework, classwork, tests, quizzes, etc. Many nights, my wife sits on the couch at home and is grading. Plus, she has countless disruptive students in class who don’t know how to keep their mouths shut when a teacher is talking. Add in there the increasing number of students who struggle with the English language and it can be tough on a teacher. However, my wife says she wouldn’t trade it for the world. She had always wanted to be a teacher, and although it can be stressful at times, it can be very rewarding as well.

The thing I believe is stressing out teachers the most is this one size fits all mentality. Countless Georgia schools failed AYP this past year because certain sub-groups didn’t have the correct percentage in certain sub-groups pass. For my wife’s school, it happened to be the special education students, who are held to the same standard as all normal students. That’s where the problem is. One size doesn’t fit all. The problems really started to arise when the technical and general diplomas were taken out. Apparently, all kids are supposed to go to college and/or want to go to college. Problem is, not all kids want to. Some want to be auto mechanics or work in the retail sector, or something else. We’re forcing on these kids the way we think things should be and it’s not reality of what they really want to do. You can’t measure a kid based on a test. The same, you can’t measure a teacher’s success rate based on how well their students test.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

August 16th, 2011
2:01 pm

@Educator…I’m curious as to your opinion on the perception that poor educators are protected and not able to be terminated easily enough. Also, what are your opinions on tenure in elementary through high school years?

JoeV

August 16th, 2011
2:09 pm

@KimZ’sPackage

What say you about teachers with a traditional Master’s degree? Just curious.

jarvis

August 16th, 2011
2:25 pm

I’m burned out on the school debates. There’s a separate blog on this website for this banter.
I want a fun topic.

How about the benefits of eating pineapple?

@sloboffthestreet

August 16th, 2011
2:26 pm

Come teach for one day and then come with that hard attitude…

Lindsey

August 16th, 2011
2:47 pm

I agree with her that it is crazy for everything is based on one test, there is so much more that should be considered. But coming from someone who is married to a teacher, has a teacher as a mother-in-law and lots a friends who teach, it’s hard for me to sympathetic when she says she works 4 unpaid hours everyday. She also gets paid for not working for 2 months!!!! I hate to say it because there are so many hard working teachers out there, but I have never heard of a profession where so many people complain. It drives me nuts reading all the Facebook posts complaining their summer is ending, dreading the first day back. Most people don’t get a summer break, if they do they are unemployed! Be grateful for the job you have and make the most of it. If it’s so awful then leave.

NAGA

August 16th, 2011
2:49 pm

Teachers always used the trite & overused expression: “Come and teach for a day”.

A girl I dated back in college was working on an elementary education degree & all she had to take was 1 math class (freshman level math class called Math in a Real World) & then one “math” class taught in the education college her junior year.

Let me go back & get a piss-ant degree in education then I will go teach.

NAGA

August 16th, 2011
2:53 pm

Teachers – more whiners per capita than any other profession. The last time I checked no one forced you to become a teacher. You talk alot about doing it for “the love of the kids” but you always complain about being overworked & underpaid.

Bulldog

August 16th, 2011
3:16 pm

Check out this teacher’s video, as he is trying to win $10,000 for a children’s ministry from a local radio station here in the ATL. The more views he gets…the better his chances; so watch it and pass it on to everyone you know!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8m1ASX_nC0

irisheyes

August 16th, 2011
3:16 pm

@Lindsey, she doesn’t get paid for not working for two months. She is paid for her contracted days. However, most school systems will spread the pay out over 12 months rather than the 10 contracted months. It ensures that teachers can continue to pay their bills during the summer when they are not working. For someone who claimed is married to a teacher, I’m surprised at your ignorance.

@NAGA, I don’t “whine”, however, I will refute any of the misconceptions that seem to appear on blogs like this. (And I love your anecdote about “A girl I dated in college” as proof that all teachers are stoopid.)

Denise

August 16th, 2011
4:11 pm

I agree that teachers don’t get enough respect – from students, the government, the administration, and parents – but I also agree that SOME (NOT ALL) do complain about things they knew would happen before they became teachers. At least the younger teachers anyway. Teachers have been overworked and underpaid for a long time. Teachers haven’t had enough support for a long time. Teachers have been unfairly judged because of the stupid results of standardized tests rather than REAL indications of students’ improvements for a while now.

Look, I get paid GOOD money to do what I do. Do you think I get warm fuzzies when I look at spreadsheet after spreadsheet, trying not to go home cry under my bed by the end of the week? Heck no! But I BEGGED for this assignment. BEGGED, I say! I like my check and I need this experience to get to where I want to be in the future so I have to suck it up. In the same way, teachers chose to go into education and may have to suck up all the horrible things they have to endure until they get enough support to change them….and I really hope some changes happen and SOON. This standardized test as a measure of a teacher’s effectiveness bull has got to stop! Teachers suffer. The kids suffer. UGH! (I am ticked off and I’m not even a parent yet! LOL)

I would NEVER be a teacher for these and many other reasons (my temperament being a big one) and I am thankful that there are people who suck it up and do what I definitely COULD NOT do. I am also thankful to the teachers who shaped me into the person that I am. (Without Mrs. Keblys’ encouragement in the 11th grade I probably wouldn’t have gotten my undergrad degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering. Who knows what I would have done or been without her saying I could do it! Well, I might have picked a better engineering, since chemical sucked!)

Angie

August 16th, 2011
4:13 pm

I have a sister who is in her first year at a public school in GA. While the pay is better for her, the working conditions are not. Every other week, she has morning and lunch duty. That means she is at school at 6:20 AM and works through lunch every other week. She also gets ONE ink cartridge for the entire school year. If she wants ink in her printer after that, the $$ comes out of her pocket.

The portion of the essay that stuck out to me was the line about people in business suits making decisions about education. Often, the decisions made by government officials (from local school boards on up) are made by people who have never been teachers and most wouldn’t last a day in a classroom. That’s where mismanagement comes in.

And for those who wonder, my sister only hold membership in the union for the liability insurance (and the lawyer) they provide if needed. She abhors most of what the teachers’ unions advocate for but in this day and age, she can’t be without liability protection.

Educator2

August 16th, 2011
4:13 pm

Achievement tests are perhaps the only objective measure we have to determine the quality of teaching our children receive. It’s predictable that some of us will object to being evaluated—but how realistic is it to expect taxpayers to keep on paying for mediocrity?

As for the NEA and other teachers’ unions—they are at the core of the problem of public education! They utterly refuse to work constructively with reforms and use dues money squeezed out of teachers nationwide to reward politicians who abet them in this! This Florida teacher simply won’t put herself in the place of parents wanting the best for their children. When parents are finally free to send their kids to the schools THEY trust to do the job—then the problems with public education will vanish. Only the selfish would continue to deny parents the right to freely evaluate and choose.

Good teachers will prosper under any system; but bad ones will only find more suitable jobs when forced to by the marketplace.

Lisa

August 16th, 2011
4:25 pm

My Mom and her Mom were both educators. When I left for college they both encouraged me to pursue something other that education. I’m glad I listened!

motherjanegoose

August 16th, 2011
5:12 pm

I have been out teaching teachers today. I wanted to think about what I shared. I do not have the perfect answer.

Loved the essay. Good teachers can teach children who are prepared/ready to learn. Not all children are prepared/ready to learn. Not all teachers are good teachers either…some are incredibly intelligent people who do not know how to share their knowledge and are better suited in other occupations.

I know I am not the brightest person out there but I can teach ( my subject matter). I have done so with children from Florida to Alaska. If you give me kids who have not had a good night’s sleep nor breakfast…it is more difficult. If you send a child to school in shorts and flip flops with the temperature being 40 degrees, this can be a problem. When children come to school with a red tongue, because Mom or Dad popped a dose of Tylenol into them to bring down their fever, things can change before lunch. Add in those who have never seen a book at home nor had a book read to them but can run circles around me with a DVD player and that is another issue.

My heart goes out to young teachers today. Not many will be able to handle what is dealt them. I see their faces and know they are exhausted before Halloween, due to unrealistic expectations.

This reminds me of my ( male) pediatrician who tisked me for weaning my 11 month old son from breastfeeding. My son was using me as a teething ring and it hurt! Obviously, my pediatrician had not experienced that same hurt and it was easy for him to give advice he could not follow himself.

Those who have not been in the classroom can give all the advice they want and make decisions for teachers too but they probably would not be able to implement that advice themselves, if they had the chance.

Diggity Dawg

August 16th, 2011
6:59 pm

@Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp
Yours is the greatest name EVER on an ajc.com blog. Everyone may now return to the actual discussion at hand.

egret

August 17th, 2011
8:17 am

Don’t forget too that our “long summers” are not paid. We are all ten month paid employees! Some of us choose to stretch that over twelve months while others keep the ten month pay system. During our summers we rest, prepare our classrooms, attend summer training, enroll in graduate studies, etc.

I do wake up at 4:30, get to work at 6am, leave at 5pm (when I don’t have evening booster club meetings, parent conferences, after school rehearsals for music, or weekend events…all of which are on my list of required duties.) I have taught for seven years in GA and for half a year in FL. My half year was to take over for a teacher who never came back to work after the holiday break. The school was so difficult that I soon decided to leave FL all together. I left family members behind to find a new environment. Say what you will about teachers but we are undervalued and too many people look in from the “outside” and judge what we do without first-hand knowledge. I watch the sun rise when I walk the halls and often get home at night. My neighbors comment on how odd it is and I shrug it off because I know its what I have to do to live up to the expectations put on me.

Anyone who has a problem with this article needs to try their hand at teaching. If those people actually know how to deal with the multitude of emotional student problems they would have to get through the overwhelming lack of support and added pressure of administrative rules/regs. Next would come the list of duties so severe that you’ll need to accept what level of personal time to sacrifice to this prestigious career. I have four hours a day for myself before I have to get to sleep to wake up at 4:30am. Those people will then have to realize that the economy is hitting us as well (job security…what is that these days?) We are expected to do more than we do, work harder than we do, take 2% cut in pay on our ten month salaries, absorb furlough days and work for free which takes hundreds out of our monthly pay each (a car payment for example), and no yearly raises.

We go into our classrooms and work hard, treat kids kindly, and give them multiple chances to improve their scores and knowledge. While a few teachers perform below expected levels and thus reflect poorly on the many great teachers it is more than appropriate to say that public education in the states is one of the most accountable government agencies to date. If I lose a dollar of funds I am in danger of severe reprimand, parents take the side of their child (even when they know their child has failed in their responsibilities), and administrators pressure teachers to continue to inflate students grades to promote them to the next grade.

Parents…(when you beckon to teachers to bump your child’s grade to a 90%) does your child have an 89% or was it really a 79% with multiple chances for extra credit, make up tests, and strategies for classroom achievement?

Excuse me but I have to get back to work. I could “rant” for quite longer than this article was reported.

Proud Public School Teacher

motherjanegoose

August 17th, 2011
8:50 am

Families are crumbling…teachers see it every day. These children are the future and some of us are scared.

@ egret…thanks for your rant. If one works a 5 day week with 2 days off, do others say WOW HOW NICE? If one works a 4 day week ( 10 hour days) with 3 days off…do they say the same? Some medical professionals work three 12 hour days and rotate four days off each week. THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE CONTRACTED TO DO. I have never understood people who think teachers get summers off, from their job. They work what they contracted to work. If they want to work the summer, that is another contract unless they agree to a 12 month work contract. Perhaps this is why some folks go into teaching but it may not be as attractive as it used to be!

RJ

August 17th, 2011
9:14 am

Facts for the masses:

1. We DO NOT have teacher unions in GA! There are no rooms downtown that put teachers that can’t be terminated due to union contracts as in “Waiting for Superman” lol! Teachers can and DO get fired. They are just allowed due process.

2. Roy Barnes ended teacher tenure more than 10 years ago. There are a handful of systems that still offer it, but it’s by choice. This makes it easier to terminate a “bad” teacher.

3. We are NOT paid for the days we don’t work. This includes ALL holidays and summers. You are paid for the days that school is actually open!

4. Teacher benefits packages are similar to many corporations. The exception is a pension plan. I’ve worked in corporate America and I was offered health benefits, sick days and paid vacation. My husband’s company offers the same.

5. Teachers have very little say in what is being taught. Some school systems have adopted scripted lessons which don’t allow for much creativity. Deviate from the script and risk being written up.

6. Most of what you see in a teacher’s classroom on the walls was bought by the teacher. How many other professions expect you to buy your own supplies. I had to buy a printer because the school couldn’t afford one. Now, I have to buy my own ink cartridges. No markers this year, so I had to buy some so I could write on the board. No pens or pencisl, well you get the picture.

7. Teachers ARE underpaid, but that’s not their complaint. We went into this profession knowing we wouldn’t get rich doing it. We do it because IT IS OUR PASSION! WE LOVE CHILDREN! WE WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Instead of complaining about how bad teachers are, or how good they have it, why not work together and make a real difference.

mum

August 17th, 2011
10:00 am

Good heavens, if you don’t already know that people love to hate teachers, the first few posts surely establish that point. I believe they call this creative writing in schoo and something she wrote to give voice to her frustrations. Everyone gets frustrated with their job at some point, regardless of how much you love it. That’s life, and bashing her for expression how she feels is very petty. I fully understand what she does because I have spent many hours in my children’s schools and frankly, I don’t know how most teachers put up with the nonsense parents and students pile on them.

Do you really want a teacher who arrives 5 minutes before the bell and leaves 5 minutes after? If you are jealous of their time-off, switch careers and become a teacher so you can get all those days off to just sit around with yoru feet up eating bon bons.

There was a time where teachers were revered but society is so busy scapegoating that they jump on whatever the evil “flavor of the month” is, and these days it seems to be teachers. Yes there are some who have no business in the classroom, but really, they are in the minority. If this is the attitude of the parents on the blog, you can imagine what teachers have to deal with teaching the kids.

Instead of complaining about how bad teachers are, or how good they have it"...

August 17th, 2011
11:08 am

Uh, RJ, I have not read one post on this topic that says teachers are ” bad” …

RJ

August 17th, 2011
11:21 am

@Instead of complaining about how bad teachers are, or how good they have it”…

Reading is so important. Try reading my post again and not just one line…thanks!

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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