The December issue of NEA Today, a magazine published by the National Education Association, features Lilia Eskelsen, a Granite District teacher who was named Utah Teacher of the Year.
In an article titled "Are You Treated Like a Professional?" Eskelsen's views on shortages of textbooks and classroom supplies are presented. Several teachers from throughout the country comment on various perceptions of teacher professionalism in the article.Eskelsen said five sixth-grade classes at Orchard Elementary School in Granite School District must share 35 social studies textbooks.
"The books are on a cart and we move them from class to class each day. We've developed an elaborate system to allow each class to use the books twice a week," she said.
Teachers who don't have the books on particular days use supplementary materials for their social studies classes - prepared in extra planning time and often at the teacher's expense.
"There's just no budget," Eskelsen is quoted as saying. She estimated she spends $500 a year on necessary supplies, and that many Utah teachers spend more.
When the district runs out of supplies at the end of the year, teachers obtain Xerox paper at warehouse cost, she said.
"I can't think of another profession where they take up a collection among the employees to buy paper and supplies. And it's not just requested, it's expected."
The article was derived from an NEA study that sampled 2,000 teachers across the country on their perceptions of whether teachers are treated as professionals.
The research concluded that teachers have broad dissatisfaction with the amount and kind of decision-making power they're allowed. They want a bigger voice in staff hiring, standardized testing policies and budgeting.