I fell into teaching many years ago because a political job I was hoping to get in my new hometown fell through. A college degree in Political Science isn’t worth much in a town where Ingall’s Shipbuilding and Chevron Refinery are the main employers. But when I started to substitute teach to pay the bills, I realized that I really liked it. I liked the kids too. Especially the middle schoolers– yep, I’m one of those people. As somebody that loves writing, I can tell you that seventh graders have stories to tell. They love to express their opinions. So it was easy enough for me to abandon my political aspirations and pursue a teacher’s license. Unfortunately, these days teaching is more about paperwork and gimmicks than it is about helping students’ “light go on”. I have never seen so many discouraged teachers in my life. We are attacked from all sides– from the left because individual responsibility is increasingly under fire in our society and we are too white and too female. Sorry, I’m not “white” and I can’t help being female.
I understand why the GOP has a problem with the teacher’s unions that work against them, but when they bash teachers they are bashing many of their own supporters. Teachers are under fire because students can’t read or do basic math when it’s actually the administrators who let the schools run wild (no consistent discipline, run to every quick fix gimmick to educate), and parents whose children are never wrong. Hey legislators, why not regulate the administrations (the people with the real power) when you’re “fixing” the teachers? Why not hold the parents responsible? Why not give us the power to work outside the box to educate students who come from toxic homes? Why don’t we start allowing students who have technical skills start to hone those before the 12th grade and stop trying to teach them foreign languages and advanced algebra?
So why don’t I just quit? These kids deserve a well-rounded education, and if all the veteran teachers quit they don’t have much hope. Oh, and many teachers are quitting. I have a liberal friend who says the GOP wants to keep the students down so they can have cheap labor, and my conservative friends say that the liberals want to keep people down so they will keep voting Democrat. How about we all get together, stop calling each other names and figure out a way to inspire students? Why don’t we decide which skills are necessary and let the less academic children use their expertise in other areas instead of trying to fit them into somebody else’s box? We need mechanics. We need music conductors and computer nerds. Let’s quit running them out of school. Let’s also realize that the teachers have only so much power. Quit dumping on the poor guy or gal who is just trying to help the next generation write a decent sentence or balance a checkbook.
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