As an adjunct professor, I get to teach teachers the value of teaching. I really enjoy teaching- I love helping people. I really do. I love the idea of education, I love the thought of learning, I love the notion that we can all be successful in our own ways. I love the transformation of lessons, I love the spark of knowledge, I just love it.
But I hate being a teacher.
Here’s the deal: recently, I was talking to my cousin who is getting her Master’s as a family nurse practitioner. My sister has the same degree. These lovely people will likely get a $20,000 salary jump to offset their loans and the increased responsibilities. They deserve it. In no way with what I’m about to say am I questioning their pay rate, because frankly, I think nurses are equally underpaid. But they get to make the choice to get a master’s degree and their payout is worth it.
Teachers get a 4,000 a year raise typically after they’ve obtained their master’s degrees. We are a Master at our practice, at least that’s what my 8 years of school has shown me. Yet, I am not treated as a Master. I’m treated as an apprentice who must pay my Master’s student loans while allowing someone without education experience call the shots.
Seriously, that would be like Bruce Lee being bossed around by a writer… telling him he’s not kicking right because that’s not how the story was written.
In my current job, I am valued. I am appreciated. I am happy with what I do. I’m not even talking about administrators, because they are facing their own pressures.
I’m talking about the policy makers. The people who make the laws, the rules, the tests, the ‘rigor’ and who are transforming education, adding more responsibility to teacher’s plates, but not paying them more. In a way, this is a manifesto to all my teacher friends out there who have to write SLO’s and who have to change what they’ve been doing; even if it works. Who have to teach to a test created by a corporation. Who have to eat lunch while dodging grapes in the lunch room. Who have to get up at 3 AM to grade papers and write better lessons. Who have to spend their own money on books that kids will enjoy. Who have to attend training after training. Who need more schooling. Who need more certifications. Who needs 1-3 other jobs just to keep up.
But change is good. I get that. We need change. However, for the first time since I’ve been a public education teacher (which is longer than Betsy DeVos), I am afraid. We have a woman who doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a public teacher about to take control of our public schools. I mean, maybe she’ll be great. But so far, what I’ve seen is subpar. You don’t confuse the IDEA.
I did not vote for Trump, but I’ve been open minded about his presidency. I’ve been hopeful because we need hope. I’m sorry, but I can’t let this one go.
Maybe DeVos can turn around the money crisis we face because she’s rich, but I doubt it. And if you start treating a school like a business, you will fail. Students are not raw material- they are live creatures who each need different things and different times. I’m a teacher and I understand that. People think teaching is simply taking a textbook and reading from it. That may be the case for some, but I can assure you that the teachers that are making a difference use the textbooks (that cost more than their salary for the year) as a basis to change the world. We take what’s in there, make it relevant, form relationships, we spend time, we do what needs to be done to help our clients (not raw materials) become successful.
Please, please, please, if you are reading this: Wear red on Wednesday and choose a teacher to do the job. They know what teachers, administrators, and, most importantly, students need. And it’s not more policy, vouchers, or private schools. We need the life breathed back into the schools and that won’t happen by a billionaire who doesn’t know the difference between growth and proficiency.
If this happens, I can promise all the good teachers out there fighting daily with these legislative trip wires will quit. And all we will be left with are textbooks and tests.