“It’s been too long since we took the time
No-one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly.” — John Lennon
A lot has been said about the coming year and what is happening with education throughout the country. There is a teacher shortage as thousands nationwide leave the profession. Some governors have attacked this sitting down (figuratively, I’m not a monster after all) by forming commissions and committees to study the problem.
These commissions and committees didn’t actually include teachers at first. That notion would be like polling 50 white guys about the black experience or women’s issues. As another school year begins, I thought I would outline the issues really affecting teachers.
A number of people have mentioned teacher pay. Give teachers a substantial raise and I’m sure more would stay. No one is going to turn down more money. However, that isn’t the main problem. I’ll get back to money in a minute, but for now we should just say that most teachers knew they would never earn a lot of money. So, to say pay is the main problem is overlooking a ton.
I wish I could say that the problems impacting teachers are unique, but they aren’t. In essence, you have a group of people that are trained professionals but aren’t treated as such. Obviously, this can vary depending on local administration in the district and campus, but as a whole this is where things are.
My wife is fond of saying two things about educators. First, we love to complain. It’s like an Olympic sport for us. Secondly, she has marveled at how poorly we are treated in terms of professionalism. We have to ask to leave campus. We have to ask to go to the bathroom. We get 25 minutes for lunch. If we miss multiple days we need to provide a note or ask for permission in advance. Obviously, this varies by campus and administration, but she has far more freedom at her job and she’s one of the people protecting our astronauts.
That’s been the norm as long as I have taught. When you are in charge of children there is more expected and that is understandable. What has happened in recent years has been a nationwide breakdown in how subject area experts are treated. Think about how Dr. Fauci has been treated. Suddenly, whether you place your faith in a specialist that has been doing it for 50 years identifies your politics.
Do your own research. Here, watch this YouTube video. Listen to this pediatrician that may not even be accredited. Here comes somebody that’s an eye doctor. They know more than stupid Fauci. The obvious problem is that this distrust of subject area experts spreads to other subjects. Now, various states are changing curriculum to remove the parts they don’t like. We don’t have the collective wisdom or skills to teach that even though that’s what we went to school and hours of professional development to do.
There is a dark irony in watching people argue that we shouldn’t teach certain things because it will make their children feel bad or will be propaganda, but we should give those same teachers guns to protect those same children. Which is it? Are we qualified to be Clint Eastwood or Wyatt Earp or are we just baby sitters that can’t challenge our students to think?
The pay is not the main issue, but is also a symbol of the problem. Starting teachers in our district make nearly 60,000 a year. That’s not bad at all. I’m entering year 25 in total years and I’m barely making more than 70,000. So, all of those years of training, experience, and wisdom is worth barely 10,000. It just doesn’t seem like the wisdom and experience is worth much.
The cold, hard truth is that people don’t do their own research. They never have. So, the question is who you trust for information. There is an attack on intellectuals in this country. We happen to be a part of that group. People now look for someone that says something that echoes what they want to hear.