Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Teaching- is it soon to become a lost art?

So sometimes, I wake up thinking, "wow, I don't want to go to work today!" And other days, I wake up in this mood that is hard to explain but I know my day is going to be a good one. I am having one of those days. Those good days, where your mind is full of questions, you are slightly feisty, and you are ready to take on a lot of attitudes (at least high school attitudes).

I woke up to my radio alarm clock playing the sweet sounds of talk radio in my ear this morning. OK, so it is the only station that will come in somehow, but never the less. The topic was national budget and stimulus package for education. It was talking about how the government has so many millions of dollars to give to state education, but in order for a state to be eligible, they must conform and hit so many requirements before they are even considered. Some of the requirements, I thought "well, OK" and others I thought "are you kidding? "

It is amazing when people can sit in an office somewhere far away, who have never taught, who have never stepped in to a school in 10 or more years, can decided what you as a teacher should be able to do in order get money to help fund your school. One of the things that is being discussed and considered a requirement is to provide pay increase according to student performance. Now some people out there that read this, may say it makes sense. To me, I am gonna have to laugh.

Have you ever heard the phrase " you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink" There are teachers in my school, in my area, in my state, in my country, that are phenomenal teachers. They give everything they have and then some. They teach to excite, to educate, to promote a love of learning. Kids will either grasp it or they won't. We can push and pull, and even stand on our heads to grab their attention, but sometimes there are magnets that simply pull them away and there is nothing anyone can do to change that. Kids come from homes that we can not imagine, they deal with issues most adults could not fathom. Some are dealing with abuse, neglect, or are even homeless. Some are taking care of parents, siblings, are even their own families. Some of them simply have what they consider more important things to deal with than school. Hard for us to realize unless we have led their life for a day or a week or a month. I am so proud of these kids for coming to school each day and making it through because they understand that an education and a diploma are needed to succeed in life.

Our country gives everyone of its young people the chance to educate and grow as a person. We do not discriminate or test only the brightest. We test everyone, to see where we are, to see how to grow as a society and adapt as necessary. We look at these other countries and think we need to beat them, but how do we know we aren't? We test everyone, they do not. We teach and educate everyone, they do not. We give everyone a chance to become something, they do not.

So with knowing that, someone, somewhere, trying to raise our test scores to compete with these other countries, has decided that we should pay teachers based on test scores of their students. The better tests scores, in their heads, equal better teachers. Wow. And I am not making this stuff up. So here are teachers who get their bachelors and masters degrees knowing that they probably won't make $50,000 a year in their lifetime, due to their chosen profession, now being told that they might make less. OK so who in their right mind would ever become a teacher? Who in their right mind if this existed would stay in education? How are they going to determine how people get paid who teach in areas that aren't tested?

Doesn't make sense. Charter and private schools whose students come from homes that can afford to pay tuition, to have their child in classrooms with 10:1 student to teacher ratio, where funding comes from private donors test scores are going to be compared to those of the public school students, with over crowding, lack of funding, deteriorating buildings, and a ratio of one teacher to 30 kids. How can we even compare them. And how can we compare those teachers, who may all be making the same diligent effort, but are not rewarded for it because the government says so. If they could come and sit in classrooms and watch these teachers, then perhaps there minds would change.

Is there a chance that a teacher who instructs English and has taught for 3 years will make more than a teacher who has taught a fine arts, physical education, special education, industrial arts, family and consumer sciences courses for 30 years. Doesn't make sense either. How are they going to give teachers whose subject areas are not tested the equal chance of pay increase?

All of these questions and such opinion. Although I have only taught a mere 13 years, I watched my dad for the better part of 37 years work and love his job as a 6th grade teacher. I love seeing the people I work with everyday doing what they love to do. I love what I do. My fear is that these good people who are amazing teachers giving their all, will be told their all is not enough. And we will loose them, as well as new teachers who realize that becoming an educator maybe a no win situation and we will find our nation in a shortage of fine educators all because we think tests are the answers to everything. Something to think on today, isn't it?


Ms. Franklin said...

Amen, sister. This is a wonderful blog! Today, I am seriously considering changing careers. I love teaching, but things are getting ridiculous. It might be time to test waters in other areas.

jeff said...