Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I don't consider myself an expert. I don't know all of the behind the scene details (shouldn't government be transparent, it is created for the people, right?), but I am going to be honest, as a teacher and someone who cares deeply for the future of America, I am appaled at what is being done throughout the country right now.

Everyone is talking about it, especially the politicians, about how American students consistently fall behind the students of other countries in test scores, how many of our schools are failing, how there is an achievement gap between students of different races and socio-economic backgrounds. So what is the answer? These politicians think it is to cut millions in funding to schools, which is being done in several states right now.

I am not naive. I know there are people in the education system who are milking it, and taking much of that money that government gives the educational system for their benefits. I know there are teachers who show up to work, do what they have been doing for the last 30 years, and go home collecting their bi-weekly paychecks. They are worn out, burnt out, and ready to retire, yet are still in the system because they lost a couple of grand in retirement (can you say ironic? teachers losing part of their pension, as is the case in Wisconsin, could cause these types of teacher to stay around even longer) the last few years, and want to make sure they can retire comfortably. This might be harsh, but many would agree it is an unfortunate truth. But in that same school, and throughout campuses around the United States, you have young people who are passionate about teaching, who are ready to take on the challenges that face our broken educational system, and ensure that the United States will continue to be an important player in the world. Why handcuff these teachers by cutting the budget, which then translates to schools cutting their budgets, which then translates to schools holding on to older teachers and laying off younger non-tenured teachers (yeah, tenured), which then leads to schools not hiring new and passionate graduates who are eager to work with youth. It seems so backwards, and it infuriates me.

I saw a clip the other day that was taken from the Fox News Business channel. Some bald man was commenting on the current state of affairs in Wisconsin, and made a comment that made me scream "Screw You!" at the computer. He said teaching is a part time job, and that his mother was a teacher and she was always home by 2:30 in the afternoon. My guess is his mother was one of those teachers who should have had retired years ago. John Stewart addressed this 'pinhead' in the following Daily Show clip.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Crisis in Dairyland - Angry Curds
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Crisis in Dairyland - Message for Teachers
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Sure, teachers might recieve lots of benefits to go along with their slightly above average national salary (this is only the case in some states, other states' average teacher salaries are right on with the national average). But think about the educational policies and requirements for teachers across many of those states. For example, to obtain a teaching certificate in Michigan it takes most students 5 years at the university. I was fortunate to do in in 4, but this was only because I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I started college. There is 4-5 years of education. Now, many states, like Michigan, require teachers to "continue their education" and obtain x amount of credits over x amount of years (and do this throughout their career). This costs money, and time, and leads to teachers being highly educated, often obtaining second or third certifications or higher degrees such as masters, or in some cases, even doctorates. This leads to teachers being some of the most highly educated people in the United States, and you are going to complain that they are making too much money? Many business majors leave their undergraduate studies and jump right into jobs with a four year degree making more annually than I ever will as a teacher. The same is true in other fields such as engineering and nursing. Not to mention, it is much easier to obtain jobs in these fields because they are continually growing and the government is doing things to make sure there are jobs for people in these professions. So, why pick a fight with teachers? A professional group that makes less, and where it is more difficult to find a job now, and with further cuts in funding, will be more difficult to find a job in the coming years.

I don't have an answer to the budget problems facing our states and federal government. I just have a request. If you aren't going to think about the teachers and what they do, at least think about the students and who they are--the future of our country. Don't we have a right to make sure they are recieving the best possible education? Can that be done when schools are losing millions, and when businesses are gaining millions?

I am not anti-business, but I think America needs to look in the mirror and begin to reprioritize what is important.

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