Over a century ago, the public made the commitment to create a system of
education that would educate ALL the children as a public value, funded by
public funds and accountable to the public, all for the Common Good. For
decades our supposedly conservative legislature and politicians have undermined,
underfunded, and sometimes opposed outright this ideal and commitment of our
ancestors. At this point we have a system under siege from an ideology espoused
by many in our society that is anti-public that wishes to create schools that a
few can profit from--from an ideology that finds it irritating to educate ALL
our students, from an ideology that thinks that only the deserving and the
well-to-do deserve the privilege of education. We either watch this wonderful
public institution slowly decline and embrace the upcoming class society or we
recommit to the ideal that ALL of our children deserve an education as human
right and that our society will be better overall as we aspire to this. We
don't have to build this system, we just have to commit to pay the price to
maintain what our forefathers built.
Repeal the standard test and teachers will stay
I can tell you why I left the teaching profession (History) 30 years ago and
what I miss the most.I left simply because I could not make enough
money to support my family.What I miss the most is that I never went
to sleep wondering if I had a job the next day and my interactions with the
kids. I loved their wit and curiosity and loved our debates. If I could get a
good debate going, I could see the lights come on...so fun!
If teaching involved taking attendance, putting the slip outside the door,
closing that door, and then teaching kids for 50 minutes several times a day, I
would still be doing it. That's the part of teaching -- actual
teaching -- that I loved. But there's a segment of society that wants
teaching to be a $12 an hour job. Those people are clueless.
This survey is right on the button. I taught elementary school in one of the
best public school in Utah, and still the daily stress wore me down so much that
I retired at the first opportunity I had. During the thirty plus
years that I was on the job, more I felt increasing pressure every year from
paperwork, unmotivated students, and more and more students with mental health
challenges. I had some excellent principals who were a great, but I also had a
few who stayed in their office and didn't even get to know the students.Teachers need support from parents, administrators, and the public.
They need help with the daily preparation and/or correcting papers. During the
last few years of teaching, I actually hired someone to help (and I was lucky to
have marvelous parents and community members who volunteered to help too).
When my class size was lower, the stress was lessened because I had less
paperwork and it was easier to work with individual students.Educators are vital to the success of our children. Let's give them
support, tools, and compensation,
Every year parents play teacher roulette trying to get the best teachers and
avoid the horrible ones. It can be a no holds barred event and if you
aren't up on the rankings your chirld's fate is already sealed.
I've long felt teachers should have a starting salary in the $50k range and
when my kid's teachers jump for joy when they hear me say that I then
think, but I'd probably would never give you a job offer.
I completed my teacher training in Utah, but was not enticed to stay there in
the least. The reason was simple: the pay was miserably low. I have family who
still teach there, and the situation does not seem to have changed. It also
looks like the teacher unions are not very strong in Utah. Things are not
perfect where I teach now, in Alaska, but I can raise a family on my salary, my
union works to protect my working conditions, and I enjoy going to work every
day. I have no plans to leave the profession until retirement. If Utah wants to
retain more of their teachers, it needs to seriously consider how it values them
in terms of salary, benefits, and working conditions.
My kids expressed an interest in teaching. I said not in Utah. "Why not, Dad?" "How about low pay, high stress,
unreasonable parents, indifferent administrators, hostile legislators, and way
too many students to handle?"They took my advice, thank heaven,
and did something rational with their lives.
Interesting to see the comments from the state-level admins as they try and talk
around the elephant in the room:"Concrete evidence" of
teachers' commitment to children and society"Data we now have on
why teachers decide to remain in teaching" blah blah blahYou can
put lipstick on a pig, but it's still gonna smell like a pig. If you want
teachers to stay, it's very simple: Treat them like the well-educated
professionals they are. That includes, among other things, competitive
compensation, professional autonomy, and providing them with the necessary
resources to do the job well.Thankfully, due to severe teacher
shortages as educators leave the profession in droves and fewer people choose to
pursue the profession, several districts in the state have caught on that
they've at least got to try and make the stress of being a teacher worth it
by offering more competitive pay, but that's only part of the story. We
could have a better education system than we have now AND pay our teachers what
they're actually worth, and on a fraction of what the State pays today, but
it will take a major paradigm shift.
When you look at the multitude of problems kids bring to school with them, their
families have, the size of classrooms, and lack of parent support, we should not
be surprised that no one wants to go into teaching anymore. Also, the amount of
time teachers have to spend testing children rather than teaching them.
When "salary" and "health care benefits" and "pension
plan" become among the top ten reasons to become and remain a teacher, we
know we are beginning to pay them enough. Think about it. What are the reasons
for working any job? Especially high-stress jobs? When factors like not enough
salary or health care or pension are not high reasons for leaving, it's
because those factors weren't enough of a reason to start teaching. It
doesn't mean that prospective teachers aren't interested in those
things, but just that persons who otherwise could have become teachers
didn't do so.