Monday, June 29, 2015

Living the Life of Riley: The Myth that Teachers Have It Easty

There has been a myth circulating, probably as old as time itself, that teachers have it easy.  It is given credence by the fact teachers have their summers off and still get paid...

Yet, if teachers truly had it easy, people would flock to the profession in droves.  The doors are not barred.  I don't see that happening anytime soon.  Teachers, although they do not typically work summers, receive an annual salary that fails to attract the great many.

These days, given the current climate of ed. "reform," teachers cannot leave through the exits fast enough.  Witness the unexpected spike in City retirements last June given the promise of upfront retro.   Witness the teacher attrition rate in the last ten years.  Witness the loss of experienced teachers in the profession.  Witness the decline in popularity of teacher-ed. programs across the country.  I'm sure you know people who have left.  I bet you know even more who wonder what to tell their children about this noble profession.  Their brother are doctors.  Their sisters are lawyers.  Their Aunt is a businesswoman.  Does teaching "pay" anymore?  

In the past, some people who either could not hack it in the classroom or wanted higher pay and more respect might have chosen to become administrators.  Today, that option seems far from golden.  Who wants to spend time running around checking off boxes of Danielson while the world falls into ruins around them?  Today, there is a new class of teachers who leave to become ed. "reformers."  They have taught for two or three years and they think they know it all.  They know they won't last in the profession, so they run for a more cushy job.  They love telling you what the hell is wrong with you.

Others may try to leave the profession by moving up the UFT-career ladder.  Maybe if you can write some ill-reasoned piece of propaganda crap, you can be catapulted out of the classroom into a nice office job. This is business unionism at its best.  To hell with the smaller NY locals with leaders who actually teach and teachers who actually vote their conscience.   Vote with the Unity 800 in a system far from democratic by any standards, and know that none of the decisions will impact you in the least!  You've got your double pension to make you cozy!  Unlike so many teaching colleagues, you'll make it to retirement.  You'll get all your eyeglasses and pills and vote with retirees who constitute 52% of all UFT voters.  Find some comfort in knowing your former colleagues now have $125 in Teachers' Choice.  Don't worry that many of them would Choose to leave the profession if they could.  Now that you're not busy teaching, you've got time to brush up on some Orwell.  

Teaching is a wonderful profession, but not because it is easy.  Where student needs are the highest, the job is the hardest.  Class size combined with lack of funding for high-needs students is a sure-fire formula for teacher burnout.  Add to it the weight of being a scapegoat.  As stresses mount, many quit.  Why wait to leave the profession when the profession may leave you.  Job security is at an all-time low.

There is no way that this is an easy job.  Yet, it is one of the most rewarding and important, if not the most.  We will all be dead some day, but we leave our children behind us.  We want them to be ready for the world.  We want posterity to find new possibilities for peace, cooperation and prolonging the life of our planet.  With the world in figurative flames around us, who the hell cares how posterity handles standardized tests?  Good teachers are priceless, no matter what their students' test scores try to say about them!  Without good teachers, we are all goners!  If only teaching were easier...
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