tough to be a teacher

I feel really bad for teachers here in the state of Florida right now.

Our new nutjob governor has declared some kind of war on education and decided that it was time to both do away with tenure and start tying teachers’ salaries to their students’ performance on standardized tests. Next week I hear he wants to establish a program where he visits random houses just so that he can kick people’s puppies, too…

What’s even more depressing is that when I read about this on our local paper’s website, there was an overwhelming consensus in the comments that people agreed with him! “Teachers have it far too easy! If they can’t make our children learn, kick ’em to the curb!” And I know from past experience that I need to read those comments with a ginormous grain of salt … if I’m even going to read them at all … but it’s still sad to see the perspective that some people have against the educators of our next generation.

It was actually kind of disappointing to me when Sara left the teaching profession to become a nurse a few years ago because being a teacher to me has always seemed like one of the more “noble and selfless” professions that someone could choose to undertake. These people work long hours, spend money out of their own pockets after budget cuts remove essentials from their classrooms, and are often times up against students who don’t want to learn and parents who consider the public school system to be a free daycare provider. Truth be told, Sara left because she had just had it with the local administration – the woman taught at 3 different schools in a three year period, two during the same school year – how is someone supposed to get comfortable and establish a positive learning environment when you keep bouncing people around because of headcount problems?!

That’s why it always burns me when I hear people spew misconceptions about how well off teachers have it – how “they get two weeks off at Christmas and all summer off,” even though teachers don’t technically get paid for that time unless they have money set aside the rest of the year, or how they “only work five hours a day,” even though every teacher I’ve ever known went to school early, stayed late, and always brought home loads of work to do in the evenings. Why there’s such animosity against teachers these days, I don’t know, but frankly I think a lot of it is just parents not wanting to take responsibility for their own children.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink…” Teachers can do their best to make their lesson plans exciting and interesting, and really engage the kids, but if some kids just want to fight it and don’t actually want to learn, what else can they do?! Are you responsible at work for things that are just completely out of your control??? I read one comment from a teacher on the subject who said that she had already had a student threaten her by saying, “Well, I’m just gonna fail the FCAT so that you have to take a pay cut!” – why in the world would you want to make it even less of an incentive for someone to take such a thankless job by making their own paychecks hang on the line because of a few bad apples?!

Now I understand that there are most definitely some bad teachers out there and those people need to be removed, but cutting the legs out from underneath the entire staff certainly isn’t a way to root those bad eggs out because who in their right mind is going to deem it worthwhile to stick around to fill those empty spots? Education is hard enough without making teachers fight the governor AND the parents, in addition to the trouble kids in school every day.

It really makes me wonder what state of affairs Florida’s public schools are going to be in when I have kids of that age because although I can’t see us being able to afford private school for multiple kids, public schools are just seeming like less and less of a place condusive to learning, and that’s of no fault to the teachers.

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