It seems like something happens every six months or so that compels me to write about how teachers are being treated by the general public. This week, it’s the strike in Chicago.
To hear the media (even the supposed “liberal” media) tell it, teachers have walked out for no good reason and they don’t care about the kids and they are just greedy and lazy and we all wish they would go to hell except then who would teach the chillun’?
So let’s look at what the teachers actually want:
1. They don’t want their evaluations tied to student test scores. Why? Because socioeconomic status varies widely from class to class and school to school and this is the thing most closely linked with student performance. Teachers, rather obviously, have no control over this and thus, not nearly as much control over test scores as everyone wants to believe.
2. If a school closes down, they want experienced teachers at that school to be at the top of the list for schools that are hiring. Schools often want to hire new teachers because they are cheap. They are also not as good as experienced teachers. Now who doesn’t care about the kids?
3. They want basic supplies like books and, yes, toilet paper. Assholes.
4. They want to paid more if they are going to be made to work a longer day.
5. They want a raise that isn’t immediately offset by increased healthcare costs.
I don’t know how or why teachers and teachers unions have become so demonized in the US. Go around the world and look at the countries doing better than us. They are almost all unionized. Look around the country. States without teachers unions do worse on average than states with teachers unions. These are facts. It doesn’t matter whether you like them or not. They show, pretty clearly, that unions are not the problem.
The problem is that we don’t take care of the poor in our country.
The problem is that schools in rich neighborhoods get more funding than those in poor neighborhoods.
The problem is that many, many rich people send their kids to private schools. Those kids are important resources because they come with support networks and expectations that kids from the lower classes often don’t have.
The problem is that our country is so focused on test scores we haven’t noticed that test scores don’t correlate with success in life.
I’m tired of it. You want to fix the schools? Tell me how anything ever got fixed by fighting against the people doing the work instead of working with them.
You want to call me lazy? Kiss my ass.
Right now, on average, I’m after school three or four days a week. I run a writing program that I started. Twice this year, I will be teaching what amounts to two classes in one period because I have a handful of advanced students who want to learn more about writing, but I don’t have a class to put them in.
And you know what? All the crap? All the ridiculous accountability that the federal and state governments push? It makes my job harder because I have to spend time on pointless paperwork and other silliness when I could be teaching.
Teaching is my job and I love my job, but I think all the time about getting out. It’s not the students. It’s not the challenges. It’s the way I’m demonized daily no matter how hard I work. Hell, if the right person saw it, they’d probably gripe about this post and wonder why I wasn’t “doing my job” instead of writing this.
I’m a person, that’s why. I get to have interests outside my job. I write. That’s what I do. I’m doing it right now. In a minute, I’m going to go heavily annotate 50 pages of The Sun Also Rises so I can be ready to discuss it with my class on Friday. Early next week, I’ll be spending my “free” time reading 60 or so short stories from my writing classes.
You don’t think I’m doing a good job? You don’t think I deserve what I make? You do my job and tell me I don’t deserve it. I’m tired of being treated like part of the problem when I spend everyday trying to find the solution. You want to gripe about the teachers in Chicago? You can go to hell.