Here’s more on teaching in an article in the New York Times on March 3rd by Trip Gabriel. I was so happy to see it on the front page. So little has been written in defense of teaching. Gabriel writes that “education experts say teachers have rarely been the targets of such scorn from politicians and voters.”
Placards are mentioned: “You are glorified baby sitters who leave work at 3 p.m. You deserve minimum wage.”
“You feel punched in the stomach,” said Ms. Parker, a high school teacher…”
I feel that, too. How can one begin to refute something so ridiculous, so uninformed? Is that what people want for their children: glorified babysitters?
As long as I can remember, our three o’clock dismissal, our “free” summers, were suspect. The truth is that it’s rare for teachers to leave at dismissal and even if they do, there’s work at home: teaching plans to write, homework to correct. In an earlier blog I’ve mentioned M.J. who tacked envelopes on the bulletin board and wrote notes to each child several times a week. What about the home visits? The evening parent-teacher meetings? What about the book groups at lunch time? It would take pages to mention all that teachers do in addition to the daily teaching routine.
And there are classes to take. Year after year, teachers go to school at night, attend summer school, learning their craft, perfecting their knowledge of the curriculum.
Governor Chris Christie accuses teachers of greed. But Ms. Parker, a second-year teacher makes $36,000 a year; her student debt is $26,000. She can’t afford a house, or a car. My grandson is an intern at a middle school; he wants to become a math teacher. He’s studying for his Master’s Degree after school. I believe that his college debt is much higher than that; it will take him years to pay it off. As a teacher, I always made less than my detective husband. I wonder if Governor Chris Christie has taken a look at what the sports figures are making.
I hope teachers will begin to speak out. I hope that the students who have loved teachers, who remember the differences they made, will speak out, too.