Thursday, July 21, 2011

America's New Goal - Failing.

"Today's word is: Under-appreciated."

As frequent readers know, I have a bit of a bias towards educators in America.  How could I not?  For some strange reason, I'm studying to be a high school teacher myself (don't worry, parents, the stuff you find on this blog will be left at the door of my classroom).

Despite the ass-reaming Wisconsin teachers received at the hands of their state legislature, I have not changed majors.  Despite the continuing cuts to education at both the state and federal level, I have not changed majors.  No, no, don't praise me.  I'm no hero.  I'm clearly just a glutton for punishment.  Why do I, personally, stay in?  I'll quote one of the professors at my college - "You can either be on the front lines of the fight, or you can watch from the sidelines as teachers become more and more ostracized with each passing year."  

See, America is no longer content with being one of the fattest countries in the world (33.8% of the population is overweight, according to the CDC).  We're working on being the poorest country in the world ($14.3 trillion in debt), with each citizen owing $46 thousand dollars the moment they are born (according to the U.S National Debt Clock).  Yeah, and that's just at the time of this writing.  I'm sure when you click on the link days or weeks from now, it'll be much much higher.  

I suppose that, logically, being the dumbest country in the world would be the next hurdle to jump in this awful race.  In 2009 among adults 25 to 34, "the U.S ranked ninth among the industrialized nations in its share of its population that has at least a high school degree... seventh, with Belgium, in its share of people who hold a college degree."  That might not sound bad, but consider that in 1989, we were first in both.  Plus, that statistic is for adults.  Imagine what it looks like for high schoolers (I couldn't find a good, relevant statistic aside from drop out rates and standardized testing results).  

... Actually, not jumping the hurdle proves my point more.

How are we training for that hurdle jump, you ask?  Well, after years of scapegoating teachers for our nation's problems, the backlash is finally upon us.  Good teachers are quitting.  Teachers who don't just pass, but exceed the threshold that America holds for it's educators are leaving schools and changing careers.  And it's not just about the money, either.  It's also about respect, of which they are getting.  Parents are treating them like shit, the government is treating them like shit, and even students are treating them like shit.  At the end of the day, how could you not go home feeling like shit?

Take, for example, Ms. DeRegnaucourt, who is leaving Florida's Palm Bay High School after thirteen years of teaching.  On her salary of $38,000 per year (a mere $5,000 more than starting teachers make in my state), she can't even afford to take care of herself.  She's now taking classes for a two year nursing degree, and will be making $20,000 more per year starting pay.  Let me reiterate this hot mess of nonsense for you: She is quitting because she doesn't make enough to stay there and teach.  Teachers with Ms. D's certifications and time under their belt should be making close to $60,000 a year.  For more perspective, the national average for teacher's salaries is $39,000/year.  Ms. D. even used to encourage students to become teachers.  Now?  Not so much.

"Five years ago, 10 years ago, kids would ask me, should they become teachers? I was like, 'Oh, God, yes, I love what I do,' " she said. "Now, I tell my kids, 'You're really, really bright. Why don't you think about going into (this or that?)' They have the potential to be doctors, lawyers, nurses, CEOs and scientists . Why would I recommend to my kids, who I absolutely love, to struggle for years?"

But hey, why should her opinion matter?  Take a wonderful gander at the comments section for gems like the following (which, by the way, killed me to read):

Teamroper1 writes, "If she was good to her husband, she [wouldn't] be in this position.

RobAstro writes, "More oh poor teacher propaganda.  This doesn't surprise me in the least."

1Truth2Tell says, "Good luck in your new profession.  The new one probably won't involve a union who extroverted money from the public while blowing billions to buy off politicians."  (Some issues with this one: A) You totally used the word "extroverted" wrong.  B) I doubt the teacher's union has billions to spend.  And C) If they did buy off politicians with "billions", I'd say they got a shitty deal.  Education gets cut more and more every year.)

14Ghost ignorantly writes of teaching, "It's suppose to be a secondary paycheck, it was never intended to be a primary means of income... its NOT a profession, its just a job."


My issues is, as I've said before, not about the pay.  I do believe that teachers should make more money than they do (~$80,000/year - why should athletes get paid millions for something they learn to do in kindergarten?), but I am, personally, not concerned with how much I'm going to be making.  I'm far more concerned with how I will educate the children that come into my classroom.  Of course, that is understandably hard to do when you are worried about your financial situation.  There's no excuse for paying teachers less than they can live on when they are single.  What if, like Ms. D., they are a parent themselves?  How is that fair? 

It's a bit sad, really, that parents are too proud to admit that maybe, just maybe, their children's shortcomings aren't the fault of their teachers.  Perhaps their children are just... dumb.  Or their lack of intelligence can be blamed on the parents themselves who are, without a doubt, more influential on their children's ability to learn and retain knowledge than their teachers.  The fact is, the responsibility to teach isn't just on teachers.  I know that sounds strange, but take some time to sit down with your kids and help them with homework, or ask them what they learned in school.  That positive interaction makes kids more willing to learn and stay in school.  

CNN Article Source.


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entering the political realm as a normal person.

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