Caution: If you're sensitive about teacher criticism - STOP READING NOW. Go back to your little criticism proof box and don't come out until I tell you.
"Just a few more dollars and our kids will all be geniuses!" Have you heard something like that lately? Probably not, because those insisting that a child's IQ is directly proportionate to the amount of tax dollars spent on him every day are a little more careful about how they phrase their begging. Although, at its core it's no different than a TV preacher telling folks that their donation is a stepping stone to heaven and he knows it because God told him so. In the end, the preacher's promised outcome is based on about as much fact as the "more money, smarter kids" crowd's claim.
For those teachers who bitch that they don't make enough money - welcome to the club called "Every Other Working Stiff." Nobody thinks they make enough and God knows we're all under-appreciated.
I know, you're special and you're doing special work because you're a "teacher." Being special doesn't really pay the rent, now does it? And they don't "special" at Albertsons in trade for food. Let's be honest, it's not like teacher's salaries were some big mystery that nobody knew about before you signed up. If you're going to bitch that you work nine months out of the year and your salary is an unsatisfactory sum to cover that time, blame yourself - you weren't forced to be a teacher.
If you joined up for the "love of teaching," then don't complain at all - only athletes and rockstars get paid to "do what they love." The only difference - we as consumers tend to pay the other two more for doing what they love than we pay you. Really look at it this way - you get to do what you love and that's a big perk almost no one else gets at work.
If you signed up for any other reason, it was more than likely the benefits. Not the best reason to venture into the job of shaping young minds, but a smart move in a world where good health care options and a great pension are hard to come by. I can't blame you for securing your future, but pardon me if I'm a little suspect of the veracity in which you approach your job.
I would be remiss if I didn't point out that not everyone in the education system is paid like a pauper. One step up from teaching is the administrative branch of our education system. Here's a group of people who can't teach, can't manage and have no accountability, but make great money. A current teacher is only a master's degree away from joining that elite club and can only blame themselves for not striving for that position.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about what a failure we all admit our school system is.
You see, it's no secret that both the pauper teachers and the aristocratic administrators hate (HATE!!!) any effort to measure their ability to teach children. This means they hate any kind of test that would prove either their success, or failure at executing their job. The reason they hate these tests is that the current way in which we educate our children (which includes not only the curriculum, but the people delivering it and how those people are managed) is inadequate at best and probably just really wrong from top to bottom. Nobody wants to fix this problem because nobody wants to do anything because education has become a place where lazy people congregate and compete in the age old sport of "who can sit around doing nothing while still getting paid." You can thank teacher's unions for that.
Every year during budget time, in good times and in bad, the education sector starts asking for more money. They say that the added funding will improve our children's education and provide us with a brighter future. Meanwhile, the teachers are also lobbying those same legislators to get rid of standardized testing. They give lots of reasons like "teaching to the test," but we all know the real reason - they're not interested in anyone tracking their effectiveness as teachers (see above).
What's lacking in their lobbying is a new plan to educate our children. The mantra of "pay us more and we'll get it right this time" doesn't fly in the real world. I hate to liken teaching to Baseball, but they don't pay a player more hoping it will spur him to play better. He first plays well, then gets paid. That's how the world works for the rest of us. Anyone who has ever sought better pay in the business world realized that money comes with performance. Teachers don't seem to get this. Then again, they're completely clueless as to how a competitive market works.
Remember, teachers only get pay increases for time on the job... not effort on the job. The worst teacher in the world could be the highest paid if she's been there the longest. And the best teacher in the world might be paid the least because she's new. The spirit of a competitive work environment is killed and so dies the will to do anything but remain. That's why teachers hate the idea of ever being held accountable for test scores - they like raises being tied to time, not effort. Sadly, the teachers who work the hardest and do the best job teaching our kids are not rewarded for doing so. Often those teachers leave the public school system for private schools or simply find a new career path that rewards their efforts.
I can't get too far away from a point I just made - What's the new plan? Why should the legislature continue to fund our schools if they have no proposal to fix what everyone knows is a problem? The answer is not to stop standardized testing so that we can remain ignorant to just how ignorant our students are. Don't be surprised that level headed conservatives aren't anxious to fund a faulty educational system with no way of accounting for its efforts. They want to back a winner that proves it's a winner. If you want to get your money "up-front," propose a plan we can invest in. If it works, the money will keep coming. If it doesn't - money is cut off and a new solution is sought.
That was really the point I wanted to make with this piece even though I took the teachers out to the woodshed in the process (I'm not done yet). Take something new to the legislators and sell it. Stop begging and start bargaining.
If teachers want to be paid more, they need to ditch the tenure system and go with the performance system that governs everyone else but government workers. In an environment where a teacher is either rewarded or fired for their yearly performance, you'll see the cream rise and rest jettisoned. A teacher motivated by the carrot of success is somebody you want teaching your child! A teacher scratching off days on the calendar until retirement is part of the reason why your kid is an idiot.
Competition is good and if people think they can earn some real dough through hard work and innovation, they'll sign up and give it a shot. We are naturally competitive and that spirit shouldn't be suppressed in the one place our children spend most of their time (sleeping at home doesn't count).
Some people have suggested that we start teachers at higher salaries so that better candidates will be attracted to the profession. Great idea, but it has one sad reality for those who think your current crop of teachers will be employed after the increased salary offering. Instead of being pitted against the normal clan of clock watchers in the profession now, they'll be up against really talented, capable people. They won't have a job when it's over. Anybody willing to enter teaching as the environment is now, isn't capable of keeping up with a motivated private sector badass looking to maximize his or her earning potential.
Say, for example, that the new starting salary will be $100K plus benefits. Now you've got an incentive for those who might be looking into other industries to enter the teaching world. These people will be impressive and they'll come ready to fight. You can throw tests at them all day long and they'll figure a way to get those kids to pass them. A shocking reality exist outside the teaching world where every employee is expected to have a 100 percent success rate - all the time, every single day. This BS of "adequate" doesn't cut it and it wouldn't cut it if we were paying teacher six figures.
So, you can bitch and moan, but it won't get you anywhere. I'm not sorry at all that I had to slap you in the face with the cold dead fish of reality. Somebody had to do it. You can only grow knowing how the rest of us see you. Even if most of us are scared to say it to your face.
Here's your plan of action:
1. Propose a new solution/method/curriculum that will best serve to educate our children.
2. Ask that your pay become merit based and beg for a million ways to be judged on your performance so you can make more money.
3. You're rich and our kids are smart. Buy a yacht.
I know it's not politically correct to ever say a single bad thing about a teacher, but I don't care. Somebody needs to say something and that somebody is me. I once told a crowd of people I barely knew that the Beatles are a shitty band that stole their first music from Black Americans who couldn't get air play because they were... Black Americans. By their initial facial expressions, you would have thought that I beat a baby seal with a puppy in front of a class of retarded children (yes, I wrote "retarded" and you're just going to have get over it). You simply never mention the Beatles, Star Wars or teachers in a negative light - ever.
Please don't write below "try being a teacher for a day!" How about you try doing my job for a day? I bet everyone's job sucks equally, so don't even try playing that game.
And, yes, I do know that parenting is a problem. However, we all have factors we have to deal with at our work that may, or may not be within in our scope to affect on a daily basis. We deal with it or we get fired.
I look forward to your complete meltdowns in the comments section below. If you say something you really regret, just send me an email and I'll remove the comment with no questions asked.