I have been wanting to write about this topic for quite some time but it has always been pushed to the back burner. A number of recent current events and some tweets from members of my PLN have brought it back the front for me, so here is my two cents. So the way that I will approach the topic is to synthesize a few seemingly disparate pieces of educational news, then ask the readers whether or not they concur with my assessment. Firstly pressure has been steadily increasing on teachers to have students perform well on standardized tests. President Obama’s Race To The Top (RttT) initiative has sent state legislators, desparate for cash, scrambling to alter laws and intitute policies that will win the popularity contest. This is really the perfect economic climate to introduce such an initiative as traditionally stubborn unions are forced to acquiesce or lose members to staff cuts.
Here are some of the more famous headlines I am refering to.
- Florida Bill Ignores Advice, Warnings of Educators: Senate bill 6 ties teacher retention (and other things) to student test performance. With an ironic slap in the face, these incredible measures still failed to secure Florida RttT funds.
- All teachers fired at Rhode Island school: This one has made the rounds by now and for good reason.
Across the country states are clamoring for buzz words like accountability and rigor, sacrificing hard won gains for students and teachers along the way in the name of the almighty buck. Now add to this discussion a headline like this.
- Teacher Suspended Over Stripper Photo; No Comments Allowed: a teacher was suspended for 30 days without pay for attending a bachelorette party.
Now allow me to put the two together. I don’t care what any irate taxpayer says, teachers are over worked and under paid. I know, this is the profession that I chose, and I also know that I get summers off. Those points, coupled with the fact that I love working with young people and I am able to make it through the week. But the suspension of this teacher has gotten me really riled up and here is why. Teaching is only getting harder and more thankless, as politicians who have never spent a minute in a classroom are making policy decisions that affect whether or not a teacher is able to keep their job. This creates a great deal of stress and anxiety, but again, this is the profession that we have chosen. But if teachers, especially younger teachers without families of their own are not allowed to have personal lives outside of their school lives then this profession will never attract the most talented people that we desperately need. This teacher was no where near her school or her students and she did not pose for or post the picture on Facebook. Think of the ramifications of this. Every cell phone has a camera on it, Facebook has just surpassed Google as the most used site in the world. What are teachers to do, never leave their homes? This puritanical double standard is wrong. You would never read a headline that said RN Suspended Over Stripper Photo. It has gotten to the point where I have to think twice when young people ask me if they should pursue a career in teaching.