Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Teachers: The Second Set of Educators
It's troubling to see teachers get the brunt of the blame when it comes to this current debate about our state of public education. While I have always complained about the state of our public education, my focus is usually on the curriculum (which is not teacher-centric), the administration, and how text books are put together. I am sure man parents have complaints about a teacher or two, but in my experience I have yet to meet a teacher of one of our students who did not have their best interests in mind.
It is a very sad state of affairs when our teachers are overworked, underpaid, and under appreciated. I volunteer often in the school system and I see what goes on. Overcrowded classes, detached administrators, and children whose parents expect schools to be an free alternative to day care are just some of the day to day things the average teacher goes through.
We often hear about using testing standards to rate a teachers performance. While standardized testing might be a good idea to see how a teacher's methodology helps his or her students, it shouldn't be the only factor. What a teacher does is much more complicated than that. I urge any parent to attend his or her child's class for a good portion of the day.
Unlike other professions, teachers are not considered professionals. I see parents take a teachers critique of their children as a personal affront to their parenting. I have seen parents and administrators outright disrespect teachers on so many levels. We expect so much of our teachers but give them fewer resources each time.
I doubt that my siblings and I would not have made it out of the projects if it wasn't for those teachers who went the extra mile. It was my 9th grade English teacher who encouraged me to write. It was my third grade teacher who gave me my first speaking gig (yes, I was speaking in front of crowds at age eight). Like many students, I have some of my teachers a heck of a way to go.
I am sure it would take more than a blog post to remind folks that teachers are so important. Being nice to your children's teacher goes a long way but at the end of the day, I am only one parent out of many in the career of that teacher. We need to really focus on taking care of our teachers. Many of us wonder why we don't see more teachers who look like us. It has much to do with salary and work. Trust me, teachers don't do this for the money.
So when this debate comes up again, it is important that we bring teachers on board. If anything, when it comes to education, they know much more than we do. We need to make sure legislators on all levels of government do what it takes to keep the good teachers and make sure they are taken care of. We need to let school administrators and school boards know that we are on the side of the teachers.