thinking between the lines

To America from a Teacher

Please see the follow-up to this letter at http://lisamyers.org/2012/12/31/a-follow-up-to-dear-america-from-a-teacher/.

Dear America,

It feels strange to hear your voice praising teachers for their selflessness, dedication, and love for their students. We’re listening to what you’re saying, but we must admit that we are listening with tilted head and quizzical eye. Why? Because we’ve become accustomed to hearing a very different voice from you.

For the past few years, you’ve been certain that most of society’s problems stem from our schools, more specifically the teachers in those schools. We are lazy and useless, we are only in it for the money, we only teach for the vacation time, we don’t possess the intelligence to teach anyone much of anything, our demands for a respectable wage are selfish, we don’t teach students respect, we are leeches sucking the blood from State coffers, we don’t even work a full day like everyone else, and the most hurtful one of all - we don’t care about our students. Concerned citizens have even documented these ills in grossly successful movies that take the worst of us and use it to convince the public that teachers are deserving of nothing but disdain.

Yet, in one weekend, with one horrific tragedy, your voice has changed. The general indictment that has been assigned to us has seemingly been lifted. All of the sudden, America is looking to us with respect, admiration, trust, and something that looks a bit like… awe. It’s puzzling, really. We are the same people we were last Friday morning, doing the same job we’ve diligently done since choosing our career.

Of course, we do realize what has happened. Something horrific occurred last Friday, and as a result, America saw the uncensored soul that resides in the vast majority of teachers. There were no special interest groups telling you what teachers are really like, no businessmen or women proffering data-driven solutions that will fix every instructional problem, no politicians pontificating about the grading of teachers based on the value they add to students. No, what you saw was the real thing, teachers who love America’s children so much that they dedicate their all to their welfare.

No, for most of us, our all does not include a sacrificial death, but it does include a sacrificial life. It means working a full day at school then continuing that work at home well into the evening as we grade papers and prepare materials that will lead to authentic learning in the classroom. That’s our surface work. At a deeper level, however, we also do the following:

  • notice our students’ hurts as well as joys so we can be sure to validate them with our comments and actions
  • communicate with our students in a manner that conveys regard for them, even if regard isn’t shared for us
  • advocate for services that will improve the likelihood of students’ success
  • volunteer for extra-curricular activities so children will know we care about their whole life, not just what they do in the classroom
  • coordinate numerous fund-raisers in order to attain the resources needed to teach students
  • spend our own money where fundraisers fall short

In truth, our souls are just about as self-sacrificial as souls come, and it is this part of us that you witnessed last Friday in Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, and Victoria Soto. Yes, they paid the ultimate price, but we want you to understand that what they did on Friday was a natural outpouring of what they were already practicing: a dedication of their lives to your children. It is generally true that if one is going to die for another, he or she is first willing to live for that person. These women did just that.

It is inevitable that days will grow between last Friday and the present, and thoughts will turn to memory. However, we pray that you will not forget this glimpse into the souls of teachers this tragedy afforded us. Please do not return to lumping us together into a rejection bin after seeing a few examples of teachers who do not belong in our ranks. Realize that you will find no greater advocate for America’s students than in us. Appreciate our efforts, and in so doing, create an atmosphere of respect for what we do. In short, simply treat us with the dignity that you’re displaying today. We might find that many answers lie in that action alone.

 

 

 

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276 Responses »

  1. Dear Teacher,
    This is an excellent illustration of why subsidizing an industry kills it, and unions are evil. I remember reading this really old collection of books that details how evil is often called good and vice versa… Unions are good? I thought we declared “war” on Communism? I had an incredible statistics professor once tell me “You can torture the data to say anything.” Ok, so you mean the answers are deeper than what shows up on the surface? Why? We have been asking the wrong questions. What is the truth? What is the agenda? Why have we abandoned principles that propelled a fledgling colony into the most powerful nation the world has known in record time? The truth is – the answers ARE simple. Mankind apparently doesn’t want the truth. We want instant push button delivered portions of feel good that appeals to our broken flesh. Our productive results based culture has been neutered into a feel good, “everyone is a winner” society. Those that are motivated to excel are stifled. Freedom to choose is the default answer that universally works. Money spent on education has grown exponentially during the last 40+ years while the product quality has dropped. Teachers ARE the key to success or failure – the human element. When given an environment of freedom and competition, one can only marvel at what is accomplished by a single dedicated teacher. Impressive results can and have been attained irrespective of socio-economic status. This has already been proven. Like wise, I’m dumbfounded things aren’t worse than they already are. I personally resent the fact that my money (taxes) are being given to unproductive educators that cannot be fired. I personally know educators (yes plural and more than 2) that are guilty of statutory rape, abuse, and other criminal offenses that continue to be recycled to other public school districts. The absurdity is mind boggling. Fortunately, those extremes are the exception and not the rule. My heart bleeds for the self sacrificing teachers fighting the good fight – I am grateful to have been inspired by a few. In summary, the exemplary and the inept are mandatory ingredients for our current educational system – perhaps the system is broken?

    • Wow. I’m a teacher and I agree with everything you just said. Unlike the author of the original blog, I get praised every day for being a teacher, and I think it’s ridiculous. I’m no martyr… I just love my job. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing it! And as for me, a teacher, being sooo important…I respectfully disagree. The parents of a child are the most important teachers they will ever have. As the family unit continues to be assaulted in this country, we will have more tragedies. After all, I only impact my students a few minutes a day; parents mold their children over a lifetime.

      • Kimbernator, you are right on. Thanks for writing your reply, you gave me the courage to disagree with the FPd blogger.

      • I had a couple of “smiley sorority girl” types of teachers, like this Kimbernator. They believed dumb things. They were a bit out of it, usually very religious and in the worst way you could be religious.

        But, you know, there will always be a small percentage of the out-of-it types like Kimbernator in our schools. That’s okay. I survived her and so did other kids. Life is never perfect.

        It’s awful that freeloaders like Kimbernator are riding on the backs of the teachers that allow her to make a decent living. I don’t care much for her type.

      • WOW!! A smart teacher that gets it!!

      • Kimbernator, some of the things you say are right, but as a teacher and also someone who comes from a broken home. Teachers are very important to a student, without teachers who are there for students, kids like me woul not be what we are today it was because I had a special teacher who saw good in me and was basically a guardian figure. Yes parents are very important, but some homes don’t have that some parents work so much that a teacher is who the kid sees most(personal experience). Parents are very important but don’t underestimate the power teachers have on students in their lifetime

      • Kimbernator, some things you say are right, but as a teacher and also someone who comes from a broken home. Teachers are very important to a student, without teachers who are there for students, kids like me would not be what we are today it was because I had a special teacher who saw good in me and was basically a guardian figure. Yes parents are very important, but some homes don’t have that some parents work so much that a teacher is who the kid sees most(personal experience). Parents are very important but don’t underestimate the power teachers have on students in their lifetime

      • Dear Teacher, I certainly understand your point of view, or at least where it comes from. However, you cannot lump all of us into the group who only praise you when there is a tragedy. Plenty of parents (not enough) like myself are totally grateful to our kids teachers and try to show it/say it often! I could NEVER do your job! This message, while it had to be said, should have excluded those of us who are on your side!
        Jenny
        Mother of two.

      • Concur completely, but as the African quote states, “It takes a village to raise a child” The family unit is what teaches a child love, respect, right from wrong, ethical conduct, honesty and everything that helps that kid develop into a healthy adult. All of these things need to surround a child daily. But a teacher can find themselves in a pivotal maybe even a critical role because that child in school now interacts with other children and now has the opportunity to exercise the values that they should have been inoculated with at home. The teacher is there to teach and hopefully to strengthen the child’s developing system of values. So perhaps there is more impact than one may imagine. Educating a young mind AND helping them progress into adulthood, an imposing task at best. By the way I am not a teacher just a father of three. Cheers

      • I just wanted to clarify: I am NOT underestimating the value of teachers. But I find it strange that when I get into conversations about the importance of parents, people get defensive of teachers. Can’t both parents and teachers be important?? I personally believe that parents are the most important part of their child’s life and that they have the largest capacity to train them up to be happy and successful adults. But I am well aware that teachers have a significant role in a child’s life as well. I just find that sometimes placing the emphasis on teachers detracts from the importance of parents. It doesn’t have to be just one or the other!

      • So wait, how is the “family unit” being assaulted in this country, exactly?

      • Thank you for saying the parents of a child are the most important teachers they will ever have. As a teacher, I’ve been saying that to parents for years. Parents really sell themselves short when it comes to understanding how much they impact their children. Teachers certainly impact but NOT like parents do.

      • As a teacher and a parent I agree that parents are the number one teacher child has and yet so many of my students’ parents are telling me that they shouldn’t have to help their children when they get home if I was doing my job. Again, we see them for such a fragment of time in their day, year, and lives. You can only do so much.

      • How is the family unit be assualted? What are to say? And no you impact more than a few minutes a day…

    • As a teacher, I think you fail to understand that were it not for unions, teachers would be treated even worse than we are. I hear you spewing talking points straight from FoxNews, which is really too bad. I also think you fail to understand the purpose of unions.

      • Diane, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the reason for a Union. I have lived both sides of the fence and knew at least five separate times that “Bosses” have outright threatened me and told me they were going to get rid of me somehow. It didn’t happen, because I had the brotherhood, and sisterhood, (female committeewomen) backing me up. Now upon someone saying the Union is protecting do nothing goof offs, or lazy people, or those who don’t want to do their jobs, then I say; Who among you is so good as to throw the first stone?

        On the other side of the fence, the same count of people were ushered out the door. These people had family to support, they had mortgages and bills to pay, now with no money. And in every instance it was because someone did not like them, they made a mistake, or they said the wrong thing to the wrong person and that person above them had the power to get rid of them.

        Was it not the Union Army that brought the civil war to an end? Isn’t the saying “Divide and Conquer” so true? Why do people tell each other, “I’ve got your back”.
        Why do we congregate in a church? The family that prays together stays together.

        How bout one for all and all for one? Should it be only for me? Hooray for me! I got mine, sorry bout yours. Me first. There is one piece left and I ate it. I don’t care about my brother, he’s a brat, let the bully beat him up, he’s not hitting me (yet).

        What happens when I cry for help?

        America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and loose our freedoms it is because we allowed it to happen and did not stand up and say; This is wrong and I will not let it happen in my Country.

        For if in the first volley you do not fall, then certainly the next, or the next until they smite you. Do not stand idly by when your neighbors fall for you will surely face the same.

      • As a self employed contractor, not a teacher, i respect what you chose to do for a living. But as fr what unions were intended for, the were established so employers would stop locking the doors behind you as you entred work forthe day. They were established to protec Fair wages. They ere no way intended to soak the system dry until its broke. Unless i am missing something, schools are going broke bcause wges are to high, retirements come far to erly, and medical benifts dont begin to match what the rwst of hard qorking america gets…wke up folks

    • Now…what you’ve written isn’t the most obtuse and self-contradictory thing I’ve ever read, but it comes pretty close.

      You’re not all that bright. Are you, son?

      • obtuse: annoyingly insensitive or slow to understand; difficult to understand

        I find it hypocritical that you blatantly use an ad hominem fallacy calling a reply obtuse, highlighting your inability to understand, or to try to understand. Why not discuss the merits of that person’s arguments instead of doing the adult version of calling someone a “poopy head”.

        Additionally you make sweeping generalizations about a reply’s author, Kimbernator. While I may not agree with her assessment of her impact – I am also a teacher – you’ve resorted to assume you know her “type” and then denigrate an imagined understanding. I wouldn’t say you “survived” those teachers, I would say your close mindedness and hasty stereotypes would point towards your failure.

        Argue the ideas, not someone’s personality and more people will listen to you.

      • I completely respect your right to disagree with me. But, other than a whole lot of incredibly shallow assumptions about me based on a few sentences and my picture, I’m not exactly clear on the substance of our disagreement, if there is any. Or perhaps I’m just terribly distracted by the increased “bravery” that anonymity has given you to be incredibly rude to people you’ve never met. Sorority girl? Freeloader? Really? You’re kinda bitter. Aren’t you, son?

      • Hey JC, how do you have time for this? Aren’t you missing Rush Limp paw or some other NPR right wingnut? What do you have against unions? Sure, in a perfect world they wouldn’t be necessary, but it is the very capitalist economy we work in that provides the employers with the ability to simply dismiss a worker for any made up reason that makes unions necessary. Who will stand up for a low level employee, or one with no real power or authority? Someone like you, who feels comfortable judging others based on a snippet of information? The coworkers who are afraid of losing their jobs? In a world with no bias, no prejudices, no stereotypes, equal consideration given to all freely, and love for your fellow man being unfettered, unions would not be needed. So, if you really want to see unions go away, work for that perfect world. I am, and we can use all the help we can get.
        p.s.- no I do not have union protection where I work.

      • Wow! So much offensive anger! Perhaps you should focus on contributing to the essence of the conversation rather than name-calling insults. That behavior is why we have such difficulty getting results in Washington. Let’s be better than that, Mr. J.C

      • Wow! So much offensive anger! Perhaps you should focus on contributing to the essence of the conversation rather than name-calling insults. That behavior is why we have such difficulty getting results in Washington. Let’s be better than that, Mr. J.C

    • justin – way to go. that was proud work. you took an important moment in the lives – and in the deaths – of some innocent people, and you managed to make it about your uneducated political slant. you are my hero.

      • Oh, you mean in the same way that the author above took the lives and deaths of innocent people and managed to turn it into praise for all teachers and a look “into their soul”? And at the same time insist that she is selfless. This is one of the most self-serving posts I’ve ever read! Shame on her! When I was a teen, there was a shooting at a MacDonalds in my state. That did not give me a look into the souls of those employees. I wish people would stop taking others’ tragedies and making it all about them!

        So you work hard. So what? Everyone has to work hard if they want to succeed. Yes, you work your day and then take work home. Go complain to the junior accountant who is expected to work 50 hours each week 50 weeks out of the year. Or how about the factory worker who is told on Friday afternoon that he’ll have to work in the morning while the boss is on his boat. Or the computer technician who routinely gets calls in the middle of the night when systems go down. Or the sales person who must cancel the family vacation because someone has their panties in a bunch and a trip to the customer is required next week. Every successful person makes sacrifices for their job on a daily basis. Get over yourself.

    • How did you get Union out of what was written in the original post??? Can you not take for face value what this individual was saying to us? Could you not see the disrespect they feel? No, you decided to turn it into your own poliitical soap box!

      I read these comments from the heart of the person who wrote them. It amazes me how the kids get lost in the arguments. Are your comments really about the kids? Or are you simply unwilling to see that the teacher that wrote this lives in an environment where they feel unappreciated (don’t tell me they get paid for that) and disrespected by not just the students but by the very parents who expect them to raise their kid?

      As I know several teachers as friends and come from a family that has had more than its share of teachers, I look at it like this. Regardless of the politics, teachers deserve my respect.

      We live in a world where a professional athalete, actor or any other entertainer can get caught screwing up in public and STILL will be considered a hero. It has always amazed me how we can idolize those people (we are teaching our children) but we don’t see our kids teacher unless it is open house or a football game!

      Forget the politics and show some respect to the folks that care enough to make less than you do and put in more time at the school house than you do at the office.

      Sheeeeeshh, you say our education system is broken? We have a lot of things that are broken… politicians that retire on full salary after one term. Entertainers that because they had one hit movie or song suddenly become well respected advocates. Come on!!!

      Teachers are human so yes, there are going to be some bad apples. Do you really expect perfection? Could things be better in our system… probably. But that is not what this is about. This is about all those teachers that do care. I believe it is the vast majority!

      To those teachers I say THANK YOU!!!

      • JJ, I completely agree. I didn’t even finish reading this ‘teacher’ because of the very fact that she is trying to make it about her when it has nothing to do with her and everything to do with the heroes at Sandy Hook.

        Not all teachers would of been as brave as Victoria Soto who put her life on the line to save her students. People like the woman who wrote this post like to suck up all the praise. It’s pathetic and sickening and has nothing to do with teachers in general and she needs to get off her high horse and go do something in her community instead of blogging off of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

      • Someone who gets it. It’s just a shame that a tragedy (any kind for that matter) is the only way people start to view others in a different light. I also find it funny that a previous poster was commenting on how everyone brings home their work or gets called in on Saturdays…I think they get paid overtime if I am not mistaken….but despite that fact most teachers did not go into the profession to get rich, they teach because they care and want to make a positive difference.

      • Thank you, Anonymous. I, too, was wondering how this became a discussion of unions. If parents, teachers, and the public could work together in an attitude of mutual respect with the singular objective of doing what is best for kids, our schools and the children within them would be set up to thrive. Unfortunately, the level of conversation in many of the comments on this blog from all sides does not bode well for those of us who want to work together to improve education in our country.

        I believe Lisa’s original post came simply from her heart and if taken that way, it could help foster the climate of respect we so desperately need. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing these thoughts.

      • Thank you, you “got” it…why are these people so sensitive and insensitive at the same time?

    • I am not a teacher. I am, however, a parent. My children have had some very awesome teachers. Unfortunately, they have had some not so awesome ones too! If the good would help to weed out the bad, and yes, they know who the bad are, the image of all would be much better. At a parent meeting I once attended, a parent made this comment. “Your school is only as good as your worst teacher”. I believe that to be so true. The good teachers need to stop protecting the bad. Get rid of them. Help to fill the schools with the good.

      • Much of the problem with that ultimately comes down to money. Great teaching comes with experience and support. When I started 11 years ago – I had an amazing principal who gave me both. I’m a nationally award winning teacher with 2 masters degrees who is consistently called ‘one of the best teachers in the school’ by parents, students, administrators, and outsiders. I can’t even get interviews at schools for teaching jobs because I am ‘too expensive’. Administrators are encouraged to hire people with 3 years or less of experience to save their budgets.
        The schools are not ‘filled with good teachers’ because we won’t pay for them to be. Rather, we fill the rooms with whoever is cheapest, work then until they burn out without nurturing them into becoming great, and replace them with more newbies every 2 years. Many of those newbies could even become great – but they aren’t given time in their schedules to observe master teachers, attend necessary professional development, or practice. It’s just the age-old problem of ‘you get what you pay for’. An entire staff of experienced, master teachers isn’t considered cost-efficient by districts and will therefore never be a reality unless taxes are raised, schools are funded to the point where the district has enough money to function AND afford their payroll, or we pay teachers even less than they already make. Of course the ultimate agenda of the right is to make teaching a ‘job’ rather than a career so that salaries will always remain entry level and create cheaper-to-operate schools by bringing down the largest variable cost of schooling – teacher salaries. The downside of course being kids will never have experienced, great teachers (research shows it takes 2.5 years of teaching to reach expert level) and you’ll get the exact opposite of what you desire – a school full of poor teachers with a brand new staff every 2-4 years and a cycle of mediocrity – which we’re already starting to see.

      • It is not up to teachers to get rid of bad teachers. It is up to administrators. I am too busy teaching a room full of children to be watching what the other teachers are doing in front of their rooms. The only time I see the other teachers is during the five minute passing time between classes or when we are in the copy room preparing for the next day. It is the administrators’ job to monitor what is happening in the classroom. In my district, my good administrators have fired two bad teachers in the last five years, and those of us in the union supported the decision. In districts where administrators do their jobs well, everyone else in the building can be expected to do the same.

      • If you work in and around the system long enough you will see how easy it really is to get rid of a teacher and the entire school system is and will only be as good as that community you live in. Society needs to stop pointing their fingers at everyone else when something goes wrong. We as a society worry too much about our image. Start looking at ourselves, accept that we are human, and we do make mistakes….”So now what? What is next? You want things to be better….change.”. I am not talking about the teacher, I am talking about every last one of us. I really do not think we should be judging how this person is dealing with the huge loss that took place, but learn to listen to all of those around us. This horrific tragedy has touched everyone. Where each of us is at in the journey should be just that. Do not impose your journey and experience as the only correct path.

      • Just wondering how individual teachers can possibly “get rid of them ( the bad teachers)”. How can I as a teacher have any say in the hiring? I barely can hang onto the union-gained few prerogatives I still have…lunch length and alternating bus duty…biggies like that, Colleges have made a fortune graduating tons of prospective teachers …but the quality control piece gets lostin the tuition bucks the colleges make, especially from the 12-15 hours of credit paid to them so that a practicing teacher can supervise their student teaching experience. No professor to pay and all those tuition dollars to collect. Some piece of quality control begins in the university. Another piece belongs in central offices of districts who want coaches more than than excellent command of a subject area from those they hire. None of this is in my hands…a mere class room teacher.

      • As a teacher in NJ for 30 years I have worked alongside many amazing teachers. I’ve also worked along some who should not be there. I am not protecting them, nor are the unions. The administrators have Anywhere from three to five years, depending on where you teach, to weed out the ones who shouldn’t be there. But that takes work, observations, documentation, that many administrators don’t do. And then the unions and teachers are accused of protecting them. Even after receiving tenure, a teacher can be fired for just cause, but again, the documentation takes time. And administrators either can’t or won’t take the time to do their job. As a hard working teacher do you have any idea what it’s like to work my butt of trying to reach those more challenging students and then find out they’ve been placed with a teacher who isn’t going to continue the progress that child had been making? Kills me.

    • Justin,
      Are you condemning the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and Little League for the terrible activities of a few members? I doubt it. Then don’t lump all teachers into the same basket as a few bad eggs. Your comments about lawbreaking teachers being recycled into the next town are the problem of the legal system and the hiring authorities and the parents of that town.
      My wife is a teacher and you should be so lucky to have her in your school district. There are teachers in her system who should never have been teachers or have remained teachers well past their time of effectiveness. Most are weeded out reasonably quickly by the administration–they do know who the good and the bad teachers are. The good teachers do not want the bad teachers around any more than the parents do. It makes the job of the good teachers that much more difficult when having to make up for the poor work of the bad teachers.
      I do think your despise of the unions is ill placed. Without the unions in the early-1900′s the workers were at the mercy of corporate management that was raping America and its workers. Without the unions the American laborer would never have attained the middle class status they attained. Of late, the unions are weaker and the worker is rapidly losing his middle class status. That is a sad situation and not something corporate America particularly cares to improve. As with everything, there are excesses from time to time. Better oversight by the taxpayers of their elected officials would have prevented ridiculous contracts–we only have ourselves to blame when those we elect to office do a poor job.
      Net, net, our schools can be improved with more real input from parents. My guess is that you, like most parents, have very little knowledge of what really goes on within the schools, not just in the classroom but in the direction the education process is going. It is rapidly becoming a situation of administration vs. teachers and the wrong side is winning, unions or no unions. Get involved, learn what is happening within your schools, listen to the teachers & administration, and then decide who you really believe has the best interest of your children in their hearts. I think you will develop a lot more respect for the teachers of America and the job they are working hard to do for your children.

    • Perhaps you should first be a teacher before you blame the teachers! Can you please cite these examples of “impressive results…irrespective of socio-economic status”?

    • How you can get from that essay to your response is a mystery; I’m fairly sure you CAN’T do it while thinking rationally. If you really know that many criminal teachers, you must have hit the statistical jackpot, since there aren’t many people in the US that can truthfully say they’ve encountered even one, but the union isn’t a legitimate impediment to their firing. Every union contract allows for the firing of people like that, where they actually exist. What the union actually does is given a collective voice to teachers, about which the essay’s author correctly noted that there is “no greater advocate for America’s students.” That’s a valuable thing.

    • I see a lot of assertions and no data. Do the work you expect of others.

    • You describe teachers as the “human element” which is the key to success or failure. Are not the children themselves the “human element?” Or perhaps the parents are? There are many variables not the least of which are different languages, different cultural expectations, poverty, the growth in the power of the media, technology (which is unevenly distributed), and simple things like nutrition, health care and mental health care. I love the concession you make to the extraordinary teacher, say perhaps someone like Erin Gruwell in the movie “The Freedom Writers.” This woman worked extra jobs and received the support of her family to make the changes she wanted to see. I suspect all teachers (or at least the vast majority of them) would like to have that kind of effect on the children, but like every profession there is a percentage at the top of exceptional performers and a roughly equal percentage of underperforming practitioners. I would say that in the field of education, specifically teachers, we give more and work harder than most other professions to serve our clientele with vastly less in the way of monetary rewards. Unions have typically provided job security and like all things now we have supressed wages (remember teachers keep accepting pay cuts in the majority of states) because, yes, education is expensive, and who has willingly taken the financial hit, time and time again? Teachers. Is the system broken, yes, and who is paying for it? You? Perhaps. But it’s the children that pay for it the most. The system is functionally broken, like a functioning alcoholic, just hanging on each day. But, what is probably even more broken? This society and this government that watches as people suffer the effects of poverty and inequality and racism. Corporations are driving a program where its the corporations that get significantly more extra money from the government while promoting the lambasting and villification of the poor as being leeches on society. I think it’s easier to see where the country is going broke, financially and morally, when corporations are becoming more important than citizens.

    • I don’t believe it talks about unions anywhere in this article. I have worked as a nonunion teacher in a public school and a union teacher. I don’t think I am any more “evil” in the union.

    • Whenever someone says analytic analysis doesn’t matter and the answers are simple my alarm bell goes off. When someone throws in the type of college class they took — as if no one else ever took statistics! — my head rings. “Freedom and competition,” you say? *Compared to what?* Compared to the retail industry, where labor is subcontracted to slave labor in other countries or brought down to minimum wage on American retail floors? If you cut educators’ wages, you will undercut recruitment into the field. Ever look into college tuition? Ever ask yourself how much it costs to become a teacher? (I’m a fan of more direct questions, sorry.) If we want the best we should be paying much much more (and not as much to the administrators!). Sorry, it’s a simple matter of economics. If you want the best, and don’t feel you have the best, PAY MORE to get it.

    • Teachers can only do so much…..part of the problem is the down fall of families. What can we do about that…

    • I don’t know what your profession is, Justin, but I bet there are people in your profession who don’t belong there. I appreciate your sentiment, but you are dead wrong.

    • I am always bothered by the perception that Justin wrote that ‘teachers can’t be fired’. Having a union and a contract is designed to protect the worker, not to allow someone who is not competent to continue in that position. Any school I have worked at has an evaluation system, if a teacher is not performing adequately they are rated ‘in need of improvement’. In most districts, if the areas are not improved they are let go, union member or not. If the school administrators are not following through to let someone go, that is where the system is broken.

    • “Why have we abandoned principles that propelled a fledgling colony into the most powerful nation the world has known in record time?”

      Excellently said, friend.

  2. Read this today: http://bit.ly/ZPPXz1
    Title: Guns, Risks, and Safety
    “Meanwhile, in my twenty-eight years on the faculty here I have never received any training in dealing with depressed and anxious students, something that I have to do on a weekly if not a daily basis.”
    After reading your well written post, I thought you might get something out of this.
    Thanks for doing an important job for probably less money than you’d deserve.

  3. I think it is shameful for such a tragedy as happened in Connecticut to cause us to stop and take stock of how much we appreciate teachers. I know my success feeds directly off the abilities of the teachers i was blessed to learn under, as is my children’s success.

  4. Excellent message Miss Teacher. Both of my daughters are teachers and before they were they were in schools who sometimes had as many as 72 (no joke) students in a class!!!

  5. Thank you for giving teachers everywhere a voice. I think most people do not realize how much teachers sacrifice of their own lives, in order to give to their students. I myself took a break from teaching, so I suppose I am not so selfless as everyone else, but I took that break because I do not want my son to suffer the consequences of the sacrifices that teaching entails, until he is in school himself. I want to be there for him, until he has to spend most of his day in school, and I want to be able to fully give myself to my students, without worrying about a baby or toddler at home.

  6. If it weren’t for dedicated and loving teachers I wouldn’t be where I am today. Teaching is a sacrificial job, just go to any public school event. Teachers are public servants. We should honor those who give so much to our children. We should find ways to respect and support them; if we do not give teachers this much, how can we demand they provide the same to our children. Teachers are human too, they are not hired to be saints (though many of the teachers I’ve known quality for such).

    In the US,we need our underdogs, as I guess all cultures do. We don’t merely need someone to blame, we need someone willing to accept the blame; who better to provide such a service to an entitled society than a dedicated, responsible, morally-driven person? Who better than a teacher?

  7. What an amazing post. Sadly, I think Newtown Connecticut has done for teachers what 911 did for first responders. I have an afterschool enrichment program that I wrote the curriculum for and run at a few elementary schools here in our district (Leander ISD in Leander, TX). I was asked to participate on a Districtwide Enrichment board and have been to two meetings. This board consists of teachers, administrators and business people in the community. After the last meeting (on the budget, which btw like every other district is NONEXISTENT) I turned to the teacher next to me and told her, every parent in the district should have to attend one of these meetings so they can see all of the extra stuff you guys have to do. And I really do feel that way. The work behind the scenes is just as important as in the classroom and it goes unnoticed. I have applauded teachers always and will continue to do so. You guys deserve the mulitimillions that sports guys make. And then some. Teachers are heros in my book. Always, not just after this tragedy. Kudos on a gutsy like it is post.

  8. Thank you for writing on behalf of all the educators in this country who, by and large, ARE walking around with quizzical looks on their faces at all the homage being paid them. They wonder, “How can people not know that’s what any one of us would do?!!?” But people somehow don’t know, and if there is a silver lining to be had in all this tragedy, then maybe this realization will be the first glimmer of light to emerge. I am a retired public school counselor, my husband a retired assistant superintendent. We know beyond a doubt that educators would give their lives because they it is how they spend their lives. So, I say to you the same thing I told educators for years every day, thank you for all you do.

  9. Excellent post. My mother was a teacher for more than thirty years and I’m sure she would agree.

  10. My wish for all our teachers is that parents will express gratitude through a genuine partnership between home and school, share a sincere message of appreciation on occasion with their children’s teachers, and nurture compassion within their homes that all our children will grow to value their own lives and others. Change begins with small, conscious steps shared collectively.

  11. Exactly right and beautifully expressed . I agree that teachers have taken a bad rap in recent years , that these Connecticut teachers showed what real teachers are and that , unfortunately, this reality will soon be forgotten again and the recently familiar misrepresentations and nonsense of which you wrote will again prevail . Sorry to be a pessimist . Hope I am wrong .

  12. I wish teaching did not demand sacrifice. As a teacher, I feel part of what I need to do is be a role model, and some of what I teach as I live is at times, I think, unhealthy lack of balance–too much work, too little investment in the self or relationships. It makes me ashamed, and yet there seems to be no other way. And yet everyday what I hear from nearly everyone is that I what I do is not enough.

  13. This violence problems come from home usually, not from teachers…

  14. All sincere service is like this, especially if it’s salaried. While these tragic sacrifices spark dramatic moments of recognition—well deserved, of course—it’s the steady-but-overlooked daily effort that produces real evolutionary change and long-term value.

  15. Great post. I guess I never realized how unfairly teachers were being portrayed because I always generally enjoyed my teachers and made sure to let them know. It’s been a few years though since I’ve been in a class and since I don’t have any children of my own yet, I feel like I’ve been out of the loop. I’m glad something good can come from this horrendous tragedy.

  16. EXACTLY! As a teacher, I agree 100%! Now, maybe I can leave school before 8:30 tonight… so I can go home and make Christmas gift bags for my students! That’s true. I’m not complaining, either. I love my job very much (most of the time) and my students very much (most of the time)! :)

  17. Reposting this to my Facebook. Very, very well done.

  18. Reblogged this on Design By Debbie and commented:
    I haven’t addressed any of the events that occurred last week. To be honest, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. As a parent and also as the daughter and friend to many teachers (a good portion of which are elementary school teachers). Teachers always refer to their charges, not as their students but as their kids. They do not keep them at arms length, they embrace them with their heart since they are no longer allowed to embrace them with their arms. They love, nurture and most importantly teach them,
    In the instance of Sandy Hook, many of them also shielded them and some gave their life for their kids. I have always had respect for my teachers, I hope that I raise my children to also respect them and to get as much as they can from them.
    Being a teacher, especially in today’s climate, to me is more noble than being in the military, and in some cases more heroic.
    Think about the six teachers/administrators who sacrificed it all at the next PTA meeting, or the next school board meeting. When it comes time to raise money for books and computers for the classrooms. Think about it come April when you pay your taxes and complain about how they’ve gone up.
    And if you have kids in school, thank you teachers.

  19. While I believe the motivation of the majority of teachers is toward their of love education and students, one has to acknowledge that there are still those, who are following this career path for purely selfish reasons. We have become a homeschool family for exactly those reasons. That being said, for those qualified and brilliat teachers who do make a difference; the real obstacles they must face, are the policies put in place and the lack of logical reasoning for the majority of them; or those that should, or have been, but are not enforced. This fault lies purely in the hands of administrations and political ineptness. These are the reasons for the continued criminal activity and harm in our communities world wide.

  20. Very well said, teacher. I am a university lecturer in the UK and often have to do a lot of the same that you are describing, just for older ages (even though I have taught at high school level previously). It would take very little out of a country’s defense expenditure to make the teacher – student relationship a much more enjoyable one for both, yet, this will neither happen nor be debated. What a pity. RIP those that should still be among us.

  21. First, let me say this is an excellent defense and an appropriate corrective to the abuse heaped on teachers that has been the trend lately.

    However, I would caution you not to idolize teachers as a group. This de-humanizes them just as much as demonizing them does.

    The truth is there are some, even many great teachers who give their lives to their students for many, if not all, the right reasons. There are also some real duds that need to be held accountable like in any other profession.

  22. My greatest influences in life have been some of my teachers. What you have reflected here is very accurate with respect to the dedication of the teachers. However I would also like to add that there is an element of talent associated with teaching. We may try to make it a science through the various college degrees in education, but in the end a good teacher is really an artist – an artist who has the ability to inspire his/her students and hold their attention – and for this, I salute the artist in the teacher.
    Great post – loved this line – ” It is generally true that if one is going to die for another, he or she is first willing to live for that person.”

    • Thank you! You are correct. Teachers are 50% artist. It’s not what you know, but how you convey it to your students…the connection that leads to true learning! I love what I do! Thanks for recognizing the artistry in the profession! :)

    • @ Ajay
      Agreed – the art of teaching is intangible but the talent is instantly recognizable. I know many highly competent, devoted teachers who all care deeply for their students. However, the most memorable teachers are the artists who inspire us to become not just better students, but better human beings. Great teachers care more about their students’ well-being than the scores on a single standardized test. They give hope to those in despair, restoring confidence in the future. A great teacher saves lives every day.

  23. Well said. And every bit is true.

  24. The teachers at Sandy Hook elementary were heroes. I’ve said so in my post on the incident, as I’m sure many have.
    The current tide of public praise for those specific teachers doesn’t contradict the vexation caused by teachers in general. We need to criticize teachers’ unions and teachers themselves whenever necessary.
    There are plenty of wonderful teachers—who, while they won’t take a bullet for their students, perform their duties admirably. But putting all teachers on a pedestal doesn’t help. Most of us have had teachers who had no business being around eager young minds—some were incompetent and couldn’t handle their students sometimes knowing more than them, while others resorted to corporal punishment to get things done.
    We must treat teachers with the basic respect we owe everyone. Any more should be on a case-by-case basis.

    • Oh, come on bharatwrites…can’t you give it a rest, now of all times?

      No one is “putting all teachers on a pedestal”; what garbage.

      I attended a lower middle class, unaccredited high school. Yes, I had some shitty teachers from K-12. But everyone did, including the kids I eventually met in college, who spent their secondary school years at places like Exeter, Choate, Dalton…and if they went to public schools, they were in places like Scarsdale, Greenwich and Newton.

      Enough with the teacher bashing. I’m ONLY a parent of a young child. But I don’t know where people like you got the sick idea that attacking our teachers and the union that provides them a decent living standard will somehow HELP their students.

      But that’s not what you and your ilk are trying to do: Your obsession is crushing the union and seizing the schools for private gain. Stop denying it. We’re on to you people, finally.

      • We hear what we want to hear. What I heard from bharawrites is that everyone should be treated with respect and a specific incident doesn’t mean that one group as a whole deserves more respect than any other group as a whole. But at the same time, no one should be beyond scrutiny based soley on chosen profession. There are bad apples in every bunch, just like there are sweet ones there too.

        What JC Himself (nice arrogant, self-important name, BTW) hears is bashing to that specific group because, apparently, not praising everyone is the same as bashing everyone. Very defensive response to a statement that everyone should be treated equally. Hmmm…I think JC doth protest too much…

  25. My mom was a teacher. I never doubted you guys as a profession.

  26. Very well stated. My children have been fortunate to have wonderful teachers. I dare can think of only one that was regrettable. I have teachers in my family, and many friends who are teachers, too. You work in a wonderfully complicated field, and my family does appreciate all of what our teachers do. :) Thank you, and thank you for posting.

  27. Very well-stated, from one teacher to another.

  28. I, too, am a teacher. I teach high school English to juniors and seniors in a high school 30 mins. from Newtown in a community very similar to Newtown. The truth is I love my job and my students, and I would have done exactly what Vicky Soto and so many teachers have done– whatever I need to to protect my kids. It’s a shame that tragedy shines a light where it should have been all along. One of the first things I thought when this tragedy occurred is that I wonder if Danel Malloy sees us in a different light now, than he’s painted over the last several months. Very sad. Thank you for speaking what so many of us are thinking.

  29. Reblogged this on Teachers Have Lives Too! and commented:
    I had been searching for some words for the Sandy Hook tragedy for sometime. Monday rolled around and I still had no words about it, I had gone the entire weekend avoiding reading anything on the news. At our grade team meeting that morning, Sara (English) asked how were were going to address it with our crews (homerooms). I replied that I wasn’t. By the time I walked out of the meeting and on to my first class of the day, I felt empty and unable to empathize with other teachers who were touched and struck to their core by the events in Connecticut. I told myself that maybe I should stop avoiding it and just read up on it and allow myself to process the emotions, as a human being and as a teacher. I went home that night and read about how a teacher tried to shield her students from bullets, how another teacher hid her students in a cabinet and told the shooter they were in the library. I read about how the first responder to the commotion in the hallway – the principal and vice principal – were the first ones down. I read all about it and started choking up.
    As I read, I pictured myself frantically shoving my students – 15 year olds – into the closets in the back to my classroom to hide them. I thought about how I keep the door to my classroom locked all the time and how that would probably be a good thing. There is no doubt in my mind that I would will do my best to protect my students – even the ones that call me names.
    Today is wednesday, and until today, I still had no words for the horrific actions of one man with access to ridiculous guns. But now I do – part of what I love (and sometimes hate) about my job is how emotionally invested in my students. So faced with a similar situation, I would also try my best to shield them.
    This blog post by a fellow teacher pretty helps fill out the rest of my words relating to the recent media coverage of teachers like me, both before and after Sandy Hook.

  30. I think you speak for all teachers from around the world, you are indeed scurrilously abused by selfish parents who treat you as overpaid baby sitters to their children, whereas in truth teachers in many instances are surrogate parents, hard working and dedicated underpaid and under valued people.
    I have nothing but admiration for you all; and the memory of the sacrifice made by those teachers will, I’m afraid, fade quite quickly until such time as another of these massacres occurs with equal shock and horror, more outpourings of grief and nothing done to stem the flow of these senseless killings.

  31. Teacher’s unions have given teachers the black eye they currently have. I’m speechless with respect for the teachers and admins at Sandy Hook Elementary but you may be overstating the virtues of teachers. They are human and they chose a career. There are heroes everywhere and some are teachers and some are doctors and cab drivers and bartenders and bankers and grandparents. I get what you’re saying but I don’t know that I agree with it but then again, I’m not a teacher. I have spent many years raising a lot of money for my children’s schools and have come to call some of my kids’ teachers friends. I support public schools and teachers. However, there are plenty of reasons for parents to be frustrated with public education in this country and that is thanks to the teacher’s unions.

    • No, “Maggie O’C”, people like YOU—yes, YOU!, not the organization that allows them to have a decent life and due process against scumbags who would otherwise exploit them, sexually and otherwise—have given “teachers the black eye they currently have.”

      Spare us the blather and the cliches about how you’re “speechless with respect for the teachers and admins at Sandy Hook Elementary”; it’s so transparent. And vomit producing. It really is.

      No one is “overstating the virtues of teachers.” How so? Have you been paying attention these last few years? Go on some blogs that comment on education articles. People feel free to talk about our teachers as if they were convicted criminals. It’s sick and sickening. And as a parent I’m boiling with rage.

      Where did people get the bizarre and mendacious idea that it will “help” students if we castigate their teachers? How does spitting on teachers, making fun of them, calling them “lazy” and “stupid” and “unmotivated” and “THUGS”—like the Republican governor of New Jersey did last year—actually HELP our children? I don’t follow the “logic” here.

      Teachers are indeed “human” and they DID chose a career; one that pays considerably less per hour, even WHEN longer vacations are factored in, than virtually all other professions.

      Maybe you should show them more respect and act as if they really ARE human. That might help. Try this on for size: As a parent I WANT my child’s teacher to be paid a decent salary. Why would I want her to have financial stress; she already has a pretty challenging job with too much to worry about. How would reducing her already modest pay and benefits BENEFIT my child and the rest of our kids?

      Have you really thought this out?

      “However, there are plenty of reasons for parents to be frustrated with public education in this country and that is thanks to the teacher’s unions.”

      Really? Well, there are five states that have outlawed teachers unions, and even collective bargaining. If your specious and obtuse “argument” held even some validity, those five states would be at the top of the heap.

      Instead, 4 of that 5 ranked 44 to 50—the other one made it into the high 20′s. They’re the bottom feeders. On almost every measure, these were the states that were the lousy ones. Look it up. It’s shameful that we’re only hearing a fraudulent narrative about our schools from the mainstream media.

      However, no insults were intended here. If you want to get an understanding of modern education, I can’t recommend Diane Ravitch highly enough. http://dianeravitch.net/

      • Really? No insults were intended here? Jeez, I wonder what you would write if you meant to be insulting!? What is an acceptable salary to you? I’m honestly asking. Why is teaching apparently the only career in the world where results don’t matter? Teachers’ successes and failures cannot be quantified? Why do they have a guaranteed retirements that they don’t have to contribute to? I don’t and I don’t make that much money at either of my two jobs. I contribute to my health insurance premiums, why are they above that?

        If you asked the teachers and administrators at my children’s schools what they think of me, ALL of them would say I have worked my ass off to support them and the public schools they work in.

        You don’t know me so don’t get personal. We have a difference in opinion, take a deep breath and back off your little tantrum.

      • @ Maggie. I am a teacher. I also worked 3 part time jobs while going to school full time. I pay $250 a month to continue to pay off that debt so that I can continue to be a teacher. Plus, I am required by law to pay to continue my education to keep my certificate. I am not complaining about continuing education, but struggle with more debt. A teacher cannot go home with the students and make sure that they do the homework that is intended for them to either learn something from or for the teacher to use as an assessment to check for understanding. Parents too need to be held to some standard of being parents. Parents should also be held accountable for those test scores. Do they provide an environment at home that is conducive to studying? Do they help the with time management of other activities? Do they emphasize the importance of getting an education to the child? Do they watch their “adult” conversations in front of the child? Do they talk in front of the kid about their negative opinions about “the school” or do they act like a respectful adult and go in and have the concern shared with the school? Does the parent hold their child accountable with following through with their responsibilities? Then, if the parents and teachers are being held accountable, then why is the government not being held accountable for the education of our youth? Do they budget responsibly? Are they providing realistic budgets for our school systems? This is ultimately not a teacher or union problem, but a society problem. Do not take this as a “you” statement from me, but a, have you thought about how only holding one person accountable for this issue is just trying to point fingers, rather than really looking for the real answer. As others on here have said, there will always be a bad apple in every profession. From everything I have witnessed from those in the union (again this is a teachers union) the members do not back those that are of the bad apples. I expect that those who work in my profession, tow the line. A teacher, real teacher first and always, enters and stays in the profession for the kids and their passion to help them succeed.

      • Maggie O’C: I have been a teacher for ten years. I don’t know where your information comes from that teachers do not contribute to their health insurance. Not only would I have to pay in to obtain medical insurance for my family, but I actually decline the school’s medical insurance because I can get FAR better quality AND less expensive (to me) insurance from my hourly job than I can from my salaried profession. That’s sad.

    • I agree with you and with bharat about overstating the virtues of teachers. Teachers are simply people with a calling in a job that offers the opportunity to easily make a difference in many people’s lives. Thank goodness most teachers are quality people, and therefore make a positive difference in kid’s lives, but there are a few who are not. I see a pattern emerging in the public opinion towards teachers. People complain about the public education system all the time (I’m often one of them), the media jumps all over sex-scandal stories involving teachers, our test scores are nowhere near where they should be to justify the massive amount of money we spend on education…but then a tragedy like last week happens and all of a sudden teachers are heroes. I personally think the truth is somewhere in the middle, not in the extreme on either side.

      However, I don’t quite agree that unions are the main problem. I dropped my membership to my district union because I didn’t agree with them on many things, but I am now part of a smaller, private union. I still want to be in a union for one big reason: legal protection. I had an incident years ago when I was student teaching where a student somehow got my phone number and began texting me inappropriately. I reported him to my supervisor and he said that I was the one texting him. Thankfully, I had saved every text and was able to prove the truth about what had happened. That incident made me forever appreciate the legal protection a union could have offered if that incident had gone any further. As a history teacher, I totally understand the context of unions and their importance historically. But I don’t personally agree with the amount of power some modern unions have accumulated. While I don’t really like unions in general, I do see their value in certain areas.

      What I do believe to be one of the main problems with education is the breakdown of families, like I said above. This is not because I’m some simple-minded idealist, it’s the conclusion I’ve come to after years of teaching at a Title 1 (high poverty rate) school. Every parent/teacher conference I have ever had features the parents of the kids who are getting good grades showing up and talking to me about their kids progress, obviously actively involved in their child’s life. And the students who are failing? Their parents almost never show up to conferences. I call home and leave a message, they never call back. I email, they don’t respond. After teaching for 7 years and seeing this over and over again, I can’t deny that there is a connection to a student’s success and parent involvement and support. A teacher, no matter how wonderful, can never replace a parent. And so I thank you, as an obviously involved and caring parent, for what you do. :)

      Uh oh. I wonder what kind of new and fascinating insults the forever-enraged JC will have for us now? :)

      • I couldn’t agree more with what you say about parents. I am a university professor and I see students struggling every day with elementary things they should have learned at school. But it is not this handicap by itself that bothers me the most. It is the fact that the students are obviously okay with it. It doesn’t bother them! Why? Where did the healthy sense of embarrassment go? I think that school teachers in this country are simply under too much pressure to make sure that those students who deserve to fail don’t fail, to make them and their parents feel good. And it’s not the teachers’ fault that the system has become this way. What do we have as a result? Complacency. Parents do not realize how little their kids know compared to what they are supposed to know at their age. Parents think that when their child gets a low grade it’s the teacher’s fault. Parents blame the teachers for having made their child “feel inferior.” Parents don’t return phone calls from the teacher. Everyone is talking about the supply side of education: teachers and other resources that children have. Nobody is talking about the demand side, the parents. Without strong demand there will never be strong supply. It is a fact that schools that teach children of highly motivated parents perform better because PARENTS demand quality from them. Not “feeling good”. QUALITY.

        I will never forget the scene I saw once in the documentary about charter schools in NYC. In that scene, the school principal was telling the parents that the school was going to have very stringent rules on discipline. As an example, the principal said that they were actually going to CALL AND WAKE THE CHILDREN UP in the morning if they were late to school. And the parents’ reaction? Happy nodding in approval!!! Let me ask this question. These are parents that are apparently MOTIVATED to ensure their child gets better education. But even they won’t wake their child up in the morning to go to school, they are counting on the SCHOOL to do so!!!

        Where there are motivated parents there will be motivated teachers, good computers, comfortable teaching environment, decent pupil to teacher ratio, and strong results. No need to make the school private, or charter, or whatever. Let us stop spending all our time discussing and blaming teachers and unions. Let us think what can be done to increase the number of motivated parents that see VALUE in education. Not because education gets you a job. Not because school keeps your kids off the streets. But because it is damn awesome to be an educated person. Let us reconsider the value that our SOCIETY as a whole places on education.

        First of all, parents need a wake-up call. To this day, despite all the statistics made public, many parents have no clue about the sad state of affairs in this country’s education system. They are under the impression that their kids are doing fine when they are not. It’s time to toughen quality standards, let those fail that deserve to fail, and tell them (and the parents) that it’s NOT okay to not know how to open parentheses in 12th grade, like it’s not okay for a football team member to not be able to do a push-up. That it’s EMBARRASSING.

        As for teachers and unions, I completely agree that teachers need legal protection (including protection from parents – see above). But not to the extent that a lousy teacher cannot be fired. Not to the extent that a teacher without ANY education in math can be allowed to teach math. That’s just plain ridiculous. Yes, teachers are doing a TREMENDOUS job, they do care for the kids, and they are often working in hostile environments. Yes, there is a lot of negativity being unjustly expressed toward teachers these days in light of the reconsideration of the education system in general. But all of this does not mean teachers should not be better screened for professional qualification and enthusiasm and passion for what they do.

      • Evgenia- I couldn’t agree with you more. About absolutely everything you just said!!

    • Teachers did not create our school systems based on mass production assembly lines. You can thank the policy makers and the 1% who influence government for your school system.

  32. I think the Teachers’ Unions are a good and necessary part of our society. Many of us are self-motivated to excel but are not all driven by sports-like competitiveness. There are many paths to excellence; some people, myself among them, find that job security (whether afforded by unions, civil service tenure, military service, etc) enhances our ability to best serve our society and our children, ethically and, most importantly, morally.

    Like many of the replies, I want to thank you for the eloquence of this post. I have family and close friends who teach, and they all — to a person — work tirelessly for 10-, 12- or 14-hour days, while maintaining a tremendous loyalty to their students.

  33. Extremely well written post. From someone with a teaching background, I found myself shaking my head “yes” to several things you said.

  34. Great article — teachers do not deserve a lot of the criticism that they receive. However, if it’s not the teachers that are to “blame,” if you will, for these stereotypes, then who is? These stereotypes exist because there is some base to them, be that in the teachers themselves, the curriculum designers, or the state bureaucrats, otherwise they would not be given national credit. I personally believe the “blame” lies in the latter two, and because of that it’s simply an unfortunate circumstance that teachers have to be at the forefront of the system to take the flack for it. Great article, but I’m curious as to what lies deeper.

  35. Thank you for sharing this and I agree with you that most teachers are very dedicated and loving to the children. Most of my children’s teachers have been great, but just like anything else there is always at least one bad apple in the bunch. But that doesn’t mean the whole bag of apples is bad. I applaud you and all teachers for giving your all to the children.

  36. When I was a kid, the adults I loved best outside my own family were my teachers, for just the reasons you said: they noticed me, they encouraged me, they *cared* about me. I remember them with great affection and appreciation for all they gave to me. My view of teachers and the teaching profession has always been one of awe and respect.

  37. Every American, just as anybody else, have different views. Some appreciated teachers more than others. It depends on who you asked. The same idea goes for teachers – although most get into teaching for the kids, and there are some amazing teachers, there are also some very bad ones.

    That being said, the teachers who died that day died heroes. It’s hard to ignore something like that. It opens people’s eyes. But for the most part, people still have the same over-all views of teachers, the better side is just coming out now because of what happened.

    Although I disagree a little with some of your points, I still see what you’re saying. This is a very well written article. And I personally love teachers, I was just saying that there are different sides to everything. You asked not to be lumped together with the bad teachers, but in this article you do a bit of lumping yourself! :) I appreciate what you do, I think it’s amazing. You must have a lot of patience and understanding. Thank you!

  38. The same thoughts have been running through my head amid the horror of what happened in Newtown. From one teacher to another, I know exactly how you feel. At the same time, whenever I tell someone I’m a high school teacher the look I get is more sympathetic than anything else. It’s as if they think I couldn’t find any other job, so I just settled on being a high school teacher. What hardly anyone seems to get is that I love this job. I would do anything for my students, even when I am continually pushed down with pay cuts and decreased funds. That being said, it’s hard to keep a smile on my face and go forward with determination when I am constantly being undermined. However, I know I will until I can’t stand to be kicked any longer.

    Granted there are teachers who have no business being in a classroom, but in my experience I have found the majority are people who truly love being a teacher. The sad thing is many of those passionate teachers are dragged down by a system and society that puts little or no value in the work they do. Unfortunately, once the media leaves Newtown, the overall attitude towards teachers will likely return to its previous state. I can’t help but wonder how much of that attitude contributes to demoralization and poor teaching as well as lower achievement for students.

    The teachers of Newtown were heroes, but weren’t they already? Every single day they gave everything they had to those kids. Why is that not being celebrated as well?

  39. I liked the Facebook page already!

  40. “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first video played on MTV.

    • Oh geez, this was for a different blog. The WordPress app was having all kinds of trouble and it apparently posted my comments here instead. Yikes. How embarrassing. :(
      I read this post and liked it very much–sorry for the mixup.

  41. I really liked this post. At some point I even got a lump in my throat. I do feel teachers deserve more credit than they get. Not only for doing what they are already doing, but also for what they could do. Relevant education (not just focused on employed but on society and human behavior and understanding as well) could literally change the world for the better. Teachers are the key to a better world. I think people should understand that.

    • I agree. If only education reform was taken more seriously on a local and national level. I am a teacher also and see so many dedicated people’s work not going far enough because our system is so broken, especially in urban schools.
      Thanks Lisa for being one of the necessary voices of educational appreciation and reform in America!

  42. Well, I have to say I see some truth in this article! Goof job!

  43. Thank you for giving us a voice! I’m proud to have you represent us in your point of view. Kudos on being Freshly Pressed.

  44. I have never once doubted the person behind our children’s education. I blame several other sources, but never the teachers. I respected most of my teachers (the ones who deserved it, and the others needed to go back to school to learn compassion), and I learned a great deal from them. It’s sad that such a tragedy has made people see teachers in a different light. Hopefully, these hidden appreciations don’t lose their luster once time has passed.

  45. My parents are professors too and I have not a single doubt about how dedicated teachers are towards their children.And thank you for such a heart-touching blog-It is indeed a privilege to all of us to have people like you,people like the teachers who sacrificed their lives in this incident-who will protect our children come what may and treat ours like their own.Thank you.

  46. I am not a teacher, but my mother was, and both her parents, and her brother, and three cousins on that side of the family… I have their example and a few of my own teachers who took the time to give me personal attention. I know that in general teachers work for harder than most realize.

    Thank you for giving your all!

  47. Wonderful post! Congratulations on being in freshly pressed!

  48. nicely done. kudos to all teachers.

  49. Nicely done. I’ll have to side with oclvr83 on this one and say that hopefully time does not wipe away the what the tragedy has brought out; that teachers are teachers because that is who they are. They are special in that they take our children and help mold them. They are not social sponges.

  50. Reblogged this on College & Cupcakes and commented:
    Simply amazing and well worth the read. Thank God for our wonderful teachers.

  51. while I do agree there are a lot of really good teachers out there (most) there are a few that really make you all look bad. They pick on kids, pick favorites, and don’t spend the time to notice the kids that need help. It is at times about money. But fortunately those teachers are few… Thank you for all you do… my son is DeafBlind and for the most part he’s had really good teachers… A couple not so much. My other two??? A couple not so much and then some really impressive amazing teachers have really gone out there for my kids… Love them!!! :-)

    http://www.kodiakmylittlegrizzly.com

  52. Beautifully written. It’s great to read this perspective as this subject seems not to have come up much yet. Congrats!

  53. This is amazing. I couldn’t agree more — teachers deserve more respect and recognition. The only reason I’m the person am I today is because I was lucky to have incredible teachers that truly cared about their students. Thank you for posting this.

    Halie

  54. Teaching is a profession that makes all other professions. It does not simply go through some set of syllabi, but makes a sculpts the human.

  55. very well said! congrats on getting this freshly pressed, you deserve it.

  56. Thank you for being the voice for all of us.

  57. Teachers are not the only way children learn. They learn by example, their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, their friends & anyone in their life. We charge our teachers in public schools to teach them more than they should be, to teach them things they should be learning at home; values, manners, consideration, compassion, respect, & love for others. It really does take a village. I’m grateful to my village for helping me raise such wonderful kids. Even those difficult teachers who taught my kids that you can’t get along with everyone & not everyone will like you or be nice to you. My heart broke last Friday, for the parents, the teachers, & the entire community. This will impact everyone there for far longer than it will impact me. My thoughts are with them. Thank you for this post.

  58. Amazing to see someone acknowledge the immediate shift in perspective that comes with tragedy — and to address it with such a calm, beautiful voice. Really powerful.

  59. Reblogged this on The Ramblings of D. A. Adams and commented:
    Originally posted on lisamyers.org:

  60. From one teacher to another: thank you for saying what the rest of us have been thinking since Friday! God bless you and the work you have been called to do!

  61. I taught for thirty years (1975 – 2005) in schools surrounded by barrios and street gangs, and yes most of the teachers that taught in that community stayed because they cared. I watched drive by shootings from the doorway of my classroom. One night, while I was working late with the student editors of the school paper, one gang-banger was shotgunned dead outside that classroom by a rival gang that had waited in ambush. On another late night, a gang noticed the lights on in my room and discovered that there were a half a dozen young girl students in the room working late on the school paper. They climbed the fence and attempted to force their way into the room. I barely managed to hold the door closed as they pounded on the door and the walls for a half hour terrifying the high school paper’s editor. If they had managed to force their way in, there would have been just me, one aging former US Marine and Vietnam veteran between that gang and the girls that ran the school paper.

    A year didn’t go by that some teen gangster, a student in one of my classes, didn’t threaten me.

    Most of us worked 80 to 100 hour weeks. I often arrived at 6:00 AM and sometimes left as late as 11:00 PM. Every night and during weekends, I corrected papers, recorded grades and planned lessons. One Saturday a month, a group of teachers at the high school where I taught gave up a day to take students on hikes in the nearby mountains that hover over Los Angeles. For many of our students, it was the first time they had ever been in the wilderness and seen wild animals like bears and deer.

    Are you aware of James Samuel Coleman’s work. The Coleman report was published in 1966 and is considered the most important education study of the 20th century. In 1970, he served as adviser to President Richard Nixon and, in a “Forbes” article in 1987, wrote that we cannot blame the deteriorating school system “all on the teachers: the greatest culprits are parents and changes in family structure.”

    However, there are political and religious interests in the US that want to destroy the public schools and teachers’ unions. The Walton family wants a crack at the almost one trillion dollars that the states spend on public education by opening private voucher schools and the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame are sworn enemies of labor unions and workers earning a living.

    Then there are the fundamentalist born-again, evangelical Christians that want to end all sex education in the public schools, throw out evolution and science, and then implement classes on creationism that includes mandated school prayer.

    These people and groups will lie and mislead to gain their political and religious goals. They have money and own media outlets. Fox News is one example. Rush Limbaugh is another.

    • My parents were teachers, dad the principal so I know much about school systems. My children are extreemly bright and well manered. I have the opportunity to have my children travel and learn the history, geography, and so much more about where we visit. The school wont acccept the travel time as excused and threaten to take us to court for unexcused absences. I see 12 yr old boys in walmart that haven’t learner the aerodynamics of how to blow on a pinwheel, so I teach them. During a power outage I tell a co worker to take her newborn into the basement where it stays a constant 65 degrees. Students are being trained like monkeys to pass a standardized test. Did you teach those young girls situational awareness how to use the flag pole for a weapon. You aren’t going to be able to protect them 24/7.I have told my kids over and over that I am not supposed to take care of them my job is to teach them to take care of themselves. I am very proud of my 21 yr old whom I took out of school after she told me the only thing she learner that day was how to pierce ears in the bathroom. My 18 yr old is in college and fixes copiers in hospitals as his job. If my 15 year old wants to travel with his dad I think he will learn more so I will not hesitate to pull him out of school.

  62. As a former teacher, I have been thinking about this, too. The public needs to support teachers and their efforts to reduce class size and to advocate for adequate funding for the schools. Not only must teachers be compensated fairly, their unionization efforts must not be thwarted. They are entitled to a voice. I’ve been most impressed by the Teacher Action Group, that supports teaching of social justice in the classroom. Thanks for posting.

  63. I think you teachers need higher wages, but should also be given the authority and training of drill instructors to teach kids real team work, self respect and discipline, and be given real authority to deal out reward and punishment, everyone comes from a broken home anyway and has no one to give them an ass kicking since dad left and mom is working 3 jobs to stay afloat, every child needs to be on the same page on the path to becoming a respectable citizen. I work for a company http://www.playgroundentertainmentgroup.com which teaches precoolers good skills for the rigors of sports they will face in childhood. It would be nice if through school we learned to have eachothers back instead of being a bunch of lame limp wristed lazy ninnies and achieve a glory in the US never seen before.

  64. Reblogged this on Freedom Academy Online and commented:
    Let me say that the issue I have with the nations schools is not with the teachers. Most do as much as they can with the ever increasing limitations set upon them. I am sharing this wonderful account of a teacher about the way the world sees teachers.

  65. It makes me sad when I hear people saying negative things about teachers. I am not a teacher. As a parent I have admired and loved every single one of my 8th graders teachers. Anyone who can get in a class of 17-30 kids a day, teach them, keep them under control, inspire them, entertain them and love them every single day is a true super hero. AND teachers have to deal with parents – they should get COMBAT pay for that alone! Good article. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  66. Thank you for writing this. I am not a teacher, but I do admire those teachers who show up every day and bring their hearts and energy and commitment and skill and durability with them and share every ounce with each child.

  67. Wonderful post! Teachers have such a hard time. Thank you for all you do!

  68. Well said! I wrote an article about recently about my favorite teacher & how she saved my life… By doing what she loved! God bless you, I appreciate you!

  69. Very well said.. I am a Social Worker here in the UK so I know all about negativity from people who think social workers just take people’s children away.. I don’t even work with children!

  70. I teach, and couldn’t agree more. Great post!

  71. Excellent post. I would just like to say that if the only things you’ve been hearing about teachers are negative, you’ve been listening to the wrong people. Teachers have allies. Parents, former teachers, thoughtful, educated, well informed people do still exist and we have been saying as loudly as we know how that teachers are not treated as professionals and not properly compensated for their time. Teachers have advocates in communities all over this country. I am one, I know hundreds of people who are. We do understand the work, the stress, the personal resources teachers invest in their classrooms and the great disparity in pay professional educators in our public schools contend with. I have many close friends who are elementary, middle and high school teachers. We are here. We are on your side. I promise.

  72. Absolutely one of the best essays I’ve read about the tragedy and how it should make the teacher haters think about how their poison affects our society. I taught for 35 years in Middle School and would still be teaching, but the increasing negativity in print, TV, talk radio, etc. And mostly the vocal attacks by parents, basically drove me from the system. I’m a casualty of how education has become. Again thank-you for wonderful, wonderful expose’.

  73. Loved your blog. A comment to the commenters, anyone who really believes that there are teachers who get into it for selfish reasons probably think the same thing of their clergy. It is time to realize what teachers really do compared to other occupations. I used to teach. I sure don’t miss the lack of respect or appreciation.

  74. I’ve always felt that teachers should get paid no less than professional athletes because teachers do at least as much as those million dollar earners, if not more!

    Athletes inspire and provide entertainment.

    Teachers inspire their students to be more than athletes, actors, and players on the stage of life. That should count for more than being an inspiration and entertainment.

    I’m just thankful that good teachers are called, and needn’t take a million plus dollars to inspire them to become teachers.

    Some of us would do it for free, if we could afford to, which, is why I started my blog, to encourage and yes, if I can ever be so humble to say so, teach…

    God Bless the teachers,

    Jeffsocrates

  75. I am a teacher, as well. 11 years in kindergarten and now in my first year of second grade and I would defend any one of those 12 classes with my life if they were threatened, as all teachers would. When I speak of the students in my class, they are “MY KIDS.” The problem is that it took a tragedy like this for people to see just what we sacrifice as teachers.

    It is so exhausting hearing about how we (collectively) aren’t doing our jobs. When people mention this, they go by all these studies that show China and European countries are killing us; however, no one tells these people that China only educates somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of their children AND it is NOT free for parents to send their children to school (we offer a free education to EVERY SINGLE child in our nation). Right now, Finland is the BIG CRAZE – they are the cream of the crop! But, Finland does not believe in standardized testing (which is ALL our country does) and, when compared to other professions, teachers in Finland make a VERY good living.

    Personally, I love what I do and 98% of all teachers do! You can’t hold an entire profession hostage because their are are few idiots out there that get all the press and make us look bad. I spend a lot of money on my classroom every year on prizes, and incentives but also on curriculum. My district hasn’t updated any of the curriculum we offer in a very long time. Our Reading Series in 12 years old, Science and Social Studies Curriculum is much older than that and Math Series is at least 6 years old. Because of this, many most teachers spend time looking for things online or buying their own supplemental materials. If my salary begins to take a significant hit, I won’t be able to afford it any longer. Who does that end up hurting? The kids.

    When I was moved out of kindergarten last year (a move I did not want), I brought home with me my kindergarten things that I bought and it just infuriated me to think about the amount of money I spent thinking that I would be a Career Long Kindergarten Teacher only to start all over again this year. I came in with the attitude: I can’t afford to spend a lot of money on 2nd grade so I will have to make due with whatever the District offers. Well, it’s not enough and I’ve already dropped nearly $1,000 on my classroom.

    The other aspect of teacher bashing that drives me insane is that NO ONE will hold parents accountable for having kids. I have spent my entire career in Title 1 schools, which are your low income, At-Risk schools. I have had (on a number of separate occasions) classes where half my children cannot write their name, identify a single letter or sound, count past three, distinguish the difference between a number or a letter OR (get this) identify COLORS! If parents drop the ball the first five years of their child’s life, I am them asked to perform a miracle to get their kid caught up and if I don’t, it’s my failure. Let me assure you, this happens more times than you know.

    Also, as we continue to strip our schools of the ability to hold students accountable for their behavior, how can we be expected to keep our students on task? When I was a child, I was considered “the trouble maker.” I spent much of my 2nd and 3rd grade years in the principal’s office. If I acted the same way today in a classroom, I would be considered one of the GOOD KIDS! Societies expectations for acceptable behavior has become so substandard, it is very sad. And then, the amount of parents who don’t believe teachers, demand grade changes, complain when their child is disciplined and NEVER want to hold their child accountable for anything has climbed so high that I am amazed so many teachers remain in the profession as long as we do.

    Between behavior issues and working on catching up struggling learners, I am disgraced to say that many of our promising students are often left to “learn on their own.” If we continue with this obsession of incentive based wages for teachers which it looks like people want to link to student performance on standardized tests, things will get worse…not better. If a teachers livelihood is going to be based on the percentage of students that pass the “State” Tests, why would said teacher spend any amount of time on the students he/she knows will crush the test on his/her own merit. Said teacher will pour EVERYTHING into getting the struggling students prepared to pass the ridiculous test.

    • grrrr. I hate it when I reread something I wrote and find a typo…I used the wrong “there” in the 3rd paragraph.

    • I completely agree with your post, Jeff. I am a speech-language pathologist who has worked in a public school district for 12 years. I have two elementary-aged girls of my own and they attend a Catholic school for many of the reasons you stated: discipline, accountability, and also character education. Not just for them, but their peers as well.

  76. Such an outstanding post! Great articulation of the honest truth!!

  77. Reblogged this on Lenny Benologa vs The Universe and commented:
    A phenomenal entry by a teacher that obviously sees the truth.

  78. Well said…I have protected my children while we have had guns in my school and a loaded gun in my classroom, but most people do not understand the sacrifice most teachers make on a daily basis! Thank you for your post!

  79. My 18 year old daughter is heading to college to be a teacher. I can only hope she has your attitude and pride. Thank you for doing what you do every day.

  80. I’ve always thought that teachers, nurses, police officers, and fire fighters are our everyday heros and should be paid like rockstars and professional athletes. Our society’s values in this regard are shameful. Thank you for your service to our country by educating our young. Best wishes to you today and always. xoJulia

  81. since words failed me, all i was able to do was post a poem last week in memory of them, “a piece of clay”. it is my prayer that those who have lost their love ones will find healing in time.

    thank you for speaking on behalf of all the teachers.

  82. I remember one of my status updates a few months ago where I had given stress to the kind of sacrifice we, teachers, give to our students. It makes my eyes watery; nonetheless, your story here lifted me. I couldn’t be more proud of my profession than before.

  83. I remember one of my status updates a few months ago where I had given stress to the kind of sacrifice we, teachers, give to our students. It makes my eyes watery; nonetheless, your story here lifted me. I couldn’t be more proud of my profession now.

  84. Is this the place where we complain about our jobs and ask everyone to feel sorry for us? Great, I’ve been waiting for insurance underwriters to get their chance, so let me take my turn.

    - Only 2 people in my department can take vacation on any given day, so I have to work on Christmas Eve.
    - I contribute around $350/month for health insurance but don’t get dental and my vision coverage is really quite lacking.
    - My employer doesn’t have a pension program, so I put 15% of my pay toward retirement and hope that, when the time comes, it’s enough.
    - I am not guaranteed a yearly raise and, in fact, haven’t gotten one in the last two years because a wage freeze is in effect until the economy turns around a bit. We are hopeful for this year.
    - I am expected to have reports and cases completed by the end of the day, even if that really means 2AM the next morning.
    - When they are short-staffed in the West Coast office, I sometimes have to fill in, working their hours and missing out on the family mealtime, my chldren’s after-school events, visits with friends, etc.
    - If my company is having financial problems, we either don’t get raises (as now) or get take pay cuts (as happened about a decade ago – 10% across the board) or lose a percentage of our work force (happens much more often than I’d like) or have benefits reduced (see my vision comment above), because making those sacrifices and still having a job is a better alternative than driving our employer into further financial turmoil until the company can’t survive and everyone loses their job.
    - When there’s a blizzard, I don’t get the day off. Instead, I’m required to tele-commute because there are still deadlines that have to be met.
    - Aside from weekends, the rare sick day, and 6 scheduled holidays, there are 15 days each year that I am not required to be in the office. But not one of those (weekend, sick, holiday, vacation) are an actual guarantee, and sometimes I don’t know that it’s not a guarantee until the day before or the morning of.

    The grass is always greener. But I wonder why I come across so few blogs that martyr other professionals based on the choices they knowingly made going into their respective professions. You don’t like your pay scale, then don’t choose a profession that has pay scaled based on seniority instead of performance (but then also accept that said pay scale isn’t always going to be a constant). You don’t like the hours you have to put in, then don’t choose a profession that requires extra work in the evenings (but then also accept that your punch-in, punch-out job might not offer any room for advancement, might have very poor benefits, and might be emotionally unsatisfying). You don’t like everything the profession offers, then choose something else (but then also accept the downside of that new choice, because no profession is going to offer everything you want).

    But, whatever you do, please don’t act like yours is the only profession making any sacrifices, and please don’t act like your sacrifices are somehow more important or greater than anyone elses. Please don’t say that because you happen to have chosen teaching, you are “as self-sacrificial as souls come” as if your choice of profession inherently makes you a better person anyone else. Frankly, to do so is narrow-minded, selfish, and just plain pompus. People who are truly doing something for noble purposes don’t remind us how noble they are, and they certainly don’t use a tragedy for others as a means of applying a broad stroke of their own personal greatness. Wow!

    • Now Anne, this post of yours is something I can agree with. This essay came across as completely pompous. And to use this tragedy to be a martyr is in very poor taste. And yet all of the sheeple out there will help this author get her 15 mins of fame and interview with ABC tomorrow.

    • Well said, Anne.

      Disclaimer: I have no children and graduated a long time ago. So I have little personal experience with the current generation of teachers. Some of my teachers impacted me to the extent that I visited them after graduation, and on occasion still visit their graves.

      That being said, you really should respect other professions and stop this self absorbed navel-gazing. You think accountants don’t work fifty, seventy, 100 hour work weeks? And for fifty of fifty-two weeks a year. And they’re required to have continuing education credits, usually on their own time and their own dime.

      Software engineers? You bet. If they want to stay current, they keep up with the tech, learn new languages and write software on their own time.

      Public sector employees really do not appreciate those of us in the private sector. Since we’re in “evil corporations” we obviously must be selfish, right? Not doing anything of any long term importance?

      I’m one of the evil business people so reviled. What did I do? I got a degree in business. I took the first job I was offered and worked my way up. And no, salaried retail managers do not get overtime. So I was making less than minimum wage.

      Then I had an opportunity to get a job as an evil retail auditor. You must think, how evil, how selfish to go in and sneak up on all the poor hardworking store people on behalf of the evil corporation. Yes, I was selfishly working 60 hour weeks, plus 8-12 hour drive time, away from home three weeks of the month (sometimes four). For 26 grand a year. But I was evil, trying to make sure the rules were followed and the stores were well run and profitable.

      Nasty word, that. Profit. It’s evil. Except it’s what keeps people employed. And those evil one-percenters? A surprising amount of them DID build that. And a surprising amount of them worked far harder than you or I ever will, were smarter, and sacrificed more of their time, money and psychic energy than you will ever know. And it turns out that’s where most of the tax money comes from…evil private sector people working for their evil self-serving careers…writing software that helps land a plane…auditing something to save a business half a million dollars so they might profit and hire more people.

      Don’t crown yourselves Queens of the Sacrifice. You are important. You have a hard job. But we all work hard. If we’re working at all in this economy.

      I am sad about the children and teachers who were murdered by a lunatic. I wish that principal had a handgun in her desk and used it on him as he ran into the school.

      But…go ahead and disregard me….I’m unimportant…just a non-childbearing tax-paying evil private sector tax-payer. Some right wing nut job.

    • Amen schools need to know that 9-5 Mon -Fri jobs have been out of vogue since1950 as well as the stay at home mom.

    • Wow, Anne!
      How did you interpret this blog and comments to be all about you?
      That’s a lot of resentment you’re carrying around. I think you need to direct it at people other than teachers – perhaps at your employers who set up those working conditions, or perhaps yourself for choosing to stay in a job that you evidently don’t like. Take your own advice and choose some other profession.
      OR, maybe if your workplace were unionized, you might have better working conditions and benefits?
      BTW, teachers make these points about their jobs in response to attacks from people like you. If you don’t want to hear it, why are you reading blogs about teachers in the first place? Me thinks there be another agenda at work… Watch much FoxNews, Anne?

      • I completely agree Janice. Anne would prob do better if she joined a Union, which would look out for her salary, sick days, and basic work rights.

        Anne- Teachers are not making themselves out to be martyrs. Teachers are not saying that they work harder than other professions at all.

        Teachers are asking to be recognized for the hard work that the put in, the same hard work as many other professions out there. How many professions out there base how well you do your job on how well other people perform? Then on top give you no money or budget to help you and require that you use your mediocre salary to purchase everything you need yourself? How many professions out there require you to work 70 hours/ week but pay you for 30? Yes every profession has its pros and cons. No one is putting down other professions, although you seem to take this article very personally.

        Teachers chose teaching, and despite all of the job’s shortcomings remain teachers, in order to teach and inspire our Nation’s children- they did not choose teaching as a profession for the “summer vacations”, the “short work day”, or the “huge salary for such a short amount of time worked”- oh and lots not forget our “snow days” (which are of course deducted from our vacation days but no one ever seems to remember that when lucky teachers get the day off). We are just asking not to be told that we are “lazy” or “overpaid babysitters”- that we get the same respect that every other profession out there gets.

        Its unfortunate for you that you seem to hate your job- I guess you could take your own advice and look for another profession. However, if teachers all chose another profession that was better paying- who would teach your children?

      • @Janice, no I didn’t intrepret this blog to be all about me. That was my point. How did the events in CT suddenly become all about ALL teachers? How dare this author make it about her?! And while I’m actually a staunch Democrat, that doesn’t mean that I must believe in all Democrat stereotypical standpoints. Case in point: unions. With what has happened at my particular workplace, forcing my employer to keep all employees, raise salaries each year, and focus to a specific job description (even if they are not in a financial position to do so) would most likely have put them out of business. Then every last one of us would have had our salaries reduced to $0. That doesn’t help anyone in the long run. Unions did great things for the working class in this country, but many of those things have now become law, leaving unions with little else to do than be a financial burden on the employer (and employee) and help secure jobs for those who under perform. I much prefer performance-based incentives and companies that can financial sustain themselves. The good of the many outweigh the good of the few, so I’ll take my sacrifices if it means that hundreds keep their jobs. For me, that’s a much better option than bleeding the company dry and everyone being out on the street. The company doesn’t owe you anything other than a paycheck and a workplace that is in accordance with the law (again, thanks to unions of yore for the laws). And what I owe the company in return is a hard day’s work. In contrast, unions keep asking for the company to give more while the employees give less.

        BTW, I didn’t seek this blog out specifically, so I have no agenda. It was linked from a friend’s Facebook page and I clicked on that link. I was outraged enough by the author’s self-serving attitude that I felt compelled to post. If everyone who post anything has an agenda, then I’d ask you, what’s this author’s agenda in using a tragedy as a pedestal?

        @Stephanie (below), let’s talk about pay. Teachers like to tell the rest of us how little they make but we aren’t talking apples to apples unless you account for other costs that you don’t have. You say you only get paid for 30 weeks, but have you subtracted what others put into health care and retirement? I pay $350/month for health care that probably doesn’t come close to what many teachers get for free. To be comparable with a teacher’s health care, my costs would be at least $500/month. So, add $6K to the teacher’s salary to become comparable. I also have no guaranteed pension and am required to put my own money into retirement or come away with nothing. So, let’s be conservative and add another $5K to the teacher’s salary to again make us even. I happen to know that in my area, starting teachers make around $33K. Add those values above to make it comparable with another professional, and the starting teacher makes $44K. In my neck of the woods, that’s better than most starting salaries for people who may or may not get ANY time off, let alone 12 weeks.

        And I do not hate my job. I quite enjoy my job. I interact with lots of people, I get a sense of accomplishment from my daily tasks, I like my boss and co-workers, and the work suits my personality. I look forward to going into work most days. But I also understand that nothing is free and I am willing to put up with the bad to get the good. In contrast, this particular article took the bad of someone else, turned it into a focus for all in her profession as a means of turning that incredibly bad thing into a spotlight on her. That’s where I took offense (as I would expect any teacher to as well). What right does she have to take the tragedy of strangers and turn it into a beacon on her? Shameful!

    • This isn’t a pissing contest, people. Get a grip.

  85. Reblogged this on SaveOurSchoolsNZ and commented:
    “To America from a Teacher

    17
    DEC

    Dear America,

    It feels strange to hear your voice praising teachers for their selflessness, dedication, and love for their students. We’re listening to what you’re saying, but we must admit that we are listening with tilted head and quizzical eye. Why? Because we’ve become accustomed to hearing a very different voice from you.

    For the past few years, you’ve been certain that most of society’s problems stem from our schools, more specifically the teachers in those schools. We are lazy and useless, we are only in it for the money, we only teach for the vacation time, we don’t possess the intelligence to teach anyone much of anything, our demands for a respectable wage are selfish, we don’t teach students respect, we are leeches sucking the blood from State coffers, we don’t even work a full day like everyone else, and the most hurtful one of all – we don’t care about our students. Concerned citizens have even documented these ills in grossly successful movies that take the worst of us and use it to convince the public that teachers are deserving of nothing but disdain.

    Yet, in one weekend, with one horrific tragedy, your voice has changed. The general indictment that has been assigned to us has seemingly been lifted. All of the sudden, America is looking to us with respect, admiration, trust, and something that looks a bit like… awe. It’s puzzling, really. We are the same people we were last Friday morning, doing the same job we’ve diligently done since choosing our career.”

  86. Lisa, I saw this post because it was recommended through my wordpress account. I am a retired teacher and agree 100% with all you said. I often was 6:30, home by 4, and still grading papers at 10. That was my nice, short, teaching day.
    One time a student pulled a knife on another in the classroom. I jumped between them and got the situation under control. Thankfully. I have, so many times, wondered how that day would have been different for so many if it had been a gun.
    Keep up the good work, and keep up the writing.

  87. I don’t care for unions and their actions, but teachers as individuals have always had my full support. I believe that education, education, education is the cure for all the world’s problems. Few people in our society are more important to our kids and to our future as a nation than teachers. Thank you for all you do.

  88. Thank you for this post. As a teacher in a private school, I totally agree with what you’ve said. Unlike public school teachers, Unions aren’t an option for many of us. Our work is often “for the Lord,” which unfortunately means we get dumped on & don’t have people looking out for us. So support from other teachers is really important. S thank you for reminding me I am not alone.

  89. I have 3 kids I have been blessed to have some wonderful teachers come through their lives. My son was 3 and didn’t speak I can’t imagine what he would be like if he didn’t have the excellent teachers he had, I have never hesitated to tell them how much I appreciate all they did for him. My daughter’s mentor went from being her first grade reading helper to her foster grandmother she has made such improvements in her life that she has become a part of our family. These are just a few examples, but honestly I’ve seen this every where I don’t think it’s the exception like some people imply, even the office workers who do something as simple as remember whose mom I am have received my thanks, this is not a new thing for me. I hope that people remember the spirit they have now regarding the educators in their lives because they see our kids for more of the day than we do. Also, I have no doubt that any of the adults in my kids’ schools would do everything in their power to protect the kids because they are more than a job to do.

  90. I think highly of teachers. In truth, teachers don’t make a lot of money. They do it because they love children, and they want to be an important part of a child’s life. A child never, ever forgets their teacher(s). At 40 years old, I still remember every one of mine.

    I had an experience a few years ago where I was at the hospital visiting a patient I had in a long term care facility. I was in the elevator with this woman, and we were talking and laughing. She said, “Honey, I’m just parked on the first floor in the garage. Where are you parked?” I answered, “On the fifth.” She said, “Well I’ll give you a ride up to your car. How about that?” I accepted. When she dropped me off, I thanked her and asked her ‘her’ name. She told me her name…and it hit me! She was my first grade school teacher!

    I always remembered her because she gave me my first ‘busy bee’ award for keeping busy and doing my work on time. Kids remember that stuff! To feel like they did something good! She remembered me..because the year I was in her class was a significant year in which the school closed.

    Wonderful, meaningful, and heartfelt post. God bless you.

  91. Beautifully said and so true. My mom was a teacher for around 20 years and she put so much time, effort and money into it. She did everything she could to help students who were struggling with school, family, bullying and everything else. So many students had no respect for her and it was clear many of them got the attitude of disrespect for teachers at home. I remember when she started teaching people would often say “teachers don’t get paid much but they get good benefits.” That changed with all the cut backs to education and for several years I wasn’t able to go to the dentist because she no longer got dental insurence. Of course there are some teachers who aren’t very good at their job, as with any profession but the majority really care about their students and work hard to teach even those who have no interest in being taught. I hope more students and parent will learn to respect educators like you.

  92. I don’t even have kids in school yet, but they are almost there. My personal opinion though is it is not the teachers I feel are failing our kids. Most teachers do an awesome job and I agree that they need to be shown more appreciation. My problem is not teachers at all but our school system in general. That is what needs changing, and after last weeks events I still hold that belief. Our teachers are doing a great job with the tools they have, our school system however needs some work and that opinion did not change just because of last weeks events. :-)

  93. Oh, poor you, Lisa. Nice try. A rather pathetic, poorly thought out, self-serving post, if you ask me.

    First: You don’t speak for all teachers. It’s pretty arrogant of you to assume that you CAN, and it’s more than a little conceited of you to think that you DO. I imagine that there are MANY teachers who would view your words as I do–misplaced, self-serving, and kind of pathetic.

    Second: Get this, Lisa: The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut is NOT about you. The praiseworthy comments so many people have made about the brave and wonderful teachers who died to protect their children do NOT refer to you. They do not even refer to all the teachers in Sandy Brook Elementary School, because clearly, ALL the teachers did not, and would not, have died for their children. The praise is NOT about ALL teachers. It is about those who actually made the courageous CHOICE to confront a gunman, while unarmed–probably knowing they would die.

    Third: People are INDIVIDUALS–even when they belong to a group, or haven’t you learned that YET. All people within a group are not the same. They do NOT all deserve the praise when a handful do something extraordinary. Those who DO the extraordinary deserve the praise. The rest do NOT, because they are… ordinary (as teachers go). Everyone in a group is NOT equal, regardless of what your uber-liberal thoughts tell you. Belonging to, or affiliation with, a group does not make one something other than what they already were before–as an INDIVIDUAL. Just because one is a law enforcement officer and many do heroic, amazing things, does NOT mean they are ALL honorable or heroes. We already know that there are MANY dishonest, bad, corrupt cops all over. The same goes for catholic priests, doctors, politicians, wall street execs, AND teachers. Just because one is a teacher does NOT mean that they are good at what they do, or that they are honorable, or that they would sacrifice their life to protect our children. Many teachers ACTUALLY DO do a very poor job with our children, and thanks to the teachers union, it is all but impossible to discipline or fire them. Teachers are caught in sex scandals all the time, teachers hire surrogates to take their teacher proficiency tests for them. Teachers are people. They, as any group is, are a microcosm of our society. As such, some show greatness on a daily basis. Some (NOT all) are tireless; and innovative; and generous with their time, energy, and emotions; and some (NOT all) are heroes. Others are lazy, or racist, or sexual predators. Some have horrible attitudes. Some are mean, or inconsiderate, or bigoted. Some are power hungry, some are liars, some are cheats, and some are thieves. JUST LIKE society as a whole. Just because you belong to the “teachers” group, Lisa, doesn’t mean YOU are a hero too, and that you are somehow being cheated out of your “participation ribbon” when REAL heroes get the EXTRA recognition they have EARNED–over and above anything YOU have ever done. You are still just Lisa–the INDIVIDUAL. If you want “America” to think better of YOU, then YOU need to find a way to make an extraordinary difference–not try to “piggy-back” off of something someone ELSE did. Group-think like this is SO disturbing! Shame on you!

    Fourth: You admonished America not to “return to lumping us together into a rejection bin…” You know, it’s a funny thing about “group” identity. If one wants to accept the praise given to a few specific individuals as belonging to the whole group, then one must also be ready to accept the condemnation as a group. You can’t have it both ways, Lisa. You are either identified with the group, or you are an individual. You aren’t allowed to pick and choose the situations in which you think the “group” identity should apply to you, and when it shouldn’t–unless you are misguided and intellectually dishonest.

    Fifth: The REALITY is that there IS something VERY wrong with our schools. It is also a FACT, that its cause is multifaceted and layered. One of the chief problems IS the TEACHERS UNION which does a great job at advocating for the teachers (the good and the horrid equally), but they do NOTHING to advocate for the STUDENTS, or the communities they are supposed to be SERVING. In the view of the teachers union (and of many of the teachers), TEACHERS always come first, and students are an obvious second to them. All of America sees that ALL THE TIME–in our daily interactions with our local schools and in he myriad media reports. One of the latest examples is of hordes of angry, self-serving teachers going on strike in Chicago for more and more for THEMSELVES–NOT for the children. Six unbelievably courageous and SELFLESS teachers in Newtown, Connecticut GAVE UP THEIR LIVES to serve their students, and THAT is why they are being honored as SPECIAL. The creepy teachers in Chicago wouldn’t even sacrifice a small pay raise for their students! They ALL went on strike and, in effect, ABANDONED their students in their time of need! They ABDICATED their most sacred responsibility–for self-serving reasons, and the whole country was watching. It’s THAT kind of act on the part of teachers, that gives them a less than stellar reputation. The teachers union, and the attitude of many of the teachers and administrators, is IN THE WAY of important, needed progress in a lot of areas. The students are supposed to come FIRST–EVERY time.

    Sixth: You have NOT been “hearing from America.” HOW DARE YOU indict all of America, whom you DO NOT know, and from whom you HAVE NOT heard, and whom you are supposed to be SERVING! How incredibly arrogant, misguided, and petty of you! You have not “heard from America,” you have been hearing from the MEDIA, who make their fortunes creating and perpetuating controversy. They manipulate poll results. They air only those things that fit their agenda. You have heard from agenda-driven pundits, professional poll-masters, and a FEW upset parents who were interviewed for television. “America” has no single, unified voice for you to “hear.” America is not a homogeneous “group” anymore than “teachers” is. Shame on you for chastizing the American public in a pathetic effort to get more recognition for yourself–especially immediately after so many beautiful people were killed in the massacre in Newtown.

    Almost all of the media reports about teachers and our school systems is negative. If there IS a generally negative nationwide perception of teachers and the American school systems, it is either because of skewed media coverage (and thus, the MEDIA is to blame and the reputation is undeserved), or because of ACCURATE media coverage (and the teachers union and teachers are to at least partly to blame; and thus, are getting the reputation that they have earned), or a combination of both (which is the most likely). Now, Lisa, WHERE in there did I mention that the CITIZENS are somehow responsible for your (the group’s) less than stellar reputation? Again, how dare you indict the American public for something that falls in the lap of you teachers, your vaunted teachers union, and the media? Is this an example of the type of reasoning skills you are teaching our children?

    In closing, I repeat: The horrible tragedy in Newtown is NOT about you. It is NOT about “teachers.” Neither is America’s immediate, emotional reaction. It is NOT about your misguided perception that teachers are somehow being wrongly perceived by an unfair American public. It is NOT about you. It is ONLY about 20 sweet children, six wonderfully EXTRAORDINARY (not typical) teachers who died on December 14th, and their families. Shame on you for inject your creepy, self-serving post into the conversation–before they’re even all buried! Shame on you!

    Please, Lisa, stop trying to get some of the attention for yourself. It’s REALLY pathetic. It’s NOT about you. Not ALL teachers are pathetic, mind you… just YOU specifically–as an INDIVIDUAL.

    • In case you never had any teachers that worked with you on language (since clearly there were none that worked with you on empathy), look up “feckless.”

      The population drives the country, and when we are so busy blasting other people’s opinions that we are not writing letters daily to those that can make a difference, we are useless. Where do you fall in that spectrum, oh mighty Anonymous?

      • Ryan, if you knew me, you would know that I am an extremely empathetic an involved person. In fact, I have written several articles praising the six teachers who gave their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary, and calling for changes in gun laws. I have involved myself by contacting my state’s legislators, in circulating petitions, and in other ways. I am an advocate for teachers. I come from a long line of teachers. But I am also an advocate for TRUTH. Lisa is not deserving of empathy regarding her post. Right now the ONLY people involved in this entire discussion who deserve any empathy are those directly affected by the shooting.

        Lisa’s post was, as I stated, creepy, (rather untimely), and self-serving. SHE cast unfounded aspersions onto tens of millions of innocent people she does not know and attempted to extort their sympathy for herself by invoking the “group” name and cloaking herself in it. She inappropriately lectured the American public on something that is NOT their fault.

        Most teachers don’t generally teach empathy, Ryan; but churches and families do. And the very suggestion that I might have had teachers who “did not work with” me on language, is evidence of my whole point. Such teachers DO exist, and they are not necessarily that rare. I was fortunate, in that I had very few of them, but I knew of several–just my my school. People are INDIVIDUALS. Each one is unique. No two are alike. Each must stand on their own, in the areas of praise and judgment. The “group” identity thing is utterly ridiculous, and Lisa herself illustrated how inappropriate and sometimes dangerous it is, by lumping all Americans together and wrongly chastising them. Racial and gender discrimination are cast from that VERY SAME mold, and it is WRONG. Grouping people is wrong. Politicians and corporate execs do it, because it serves them to do so. It allows them to manipulate us, to take advantage of us, and to pit us against one another for their nefarious goals. In most cases, it does not serve the individual well, though.

        As I said, I come from a family of teachers. Most of the adults in my family have been teachers for several generations. Growing up, many of my own teachers were my relatives. I know plenty of teachers, Ryan. I have spent many nights helping to grade papers. I have helped tutor. This is not foreign to me. In fact, it was my mother (a retired teacher with three Master’s degrees) who read Lisa’s post and shared it with me. Even she thought it was ridiculous.

        Blasting other people’s opinions? That is EXACTLY what Lisa did to EVERY American who may have a less than stellar “opinion” of the state of affairs within our nation’s school systems, and the only reason I responded. She lectured. She “blasted” first, if you will. Had she chosen her message and wording differently, it might not have come across in such a sanctimonious, condescending way.

        The American public is NOT to blame for a bad reputation among teachers, any more than they are to blame for any other profession that has a generally bad reputation. The people within that group are responsible for that–and they have no place lecturing those who happen to notice that something is wrong and who speak up and ask for REAL improvements.

        And please notice that I never said a word about Ms. Lisa as a teacher– because I don’t know her–the SAME WAY she doesn’t know ANY of the people she blindly lectured.

        Save yourself the effort of a reply. I have made my point. I am moving on. I suggest you do the same.

    • Oh my Anonymous.. You took the words right out of my mouth!! I have the up-most respect for those who gave their lives at Sandy Hook and i think it sickens my that these teachers in other states are trying to suck up all the praise. I skimmed threw the comments and didnt even read the original posters article because she is trying so hard to suck up any attention she can get from this tragedy and its almost laughable. Notice only teachers are commenting back? They’re all deluded. Well, I know many good teachers but they’re not on wordpress trying to brag about a horrific incident that had nothing to do with them whatsoever.

      Anyway.. I read your whole comment and i’m glad to see others are seeing it the same way..

      RIP Sandy Hook Victims

    • It IS about the author, you,and me. It IS about all of us. Talk about a “self-serving” post. That’s the pot calling the kettle black.

  94. Thank you to the person that wrote this. It is so true and I am also one of those dedicated teachers. I spend hours in after school activities that I’m not paid for but I do it for my students. I keep food in my office for those students that come to school and may not have lunch money. I try to be there to support them in other activities outside of my class. I spend my days working to instill a love of music in them that they will hopefully carry thoughout their adult lives. I work hard to help students on all levels and I would not trade what I do for anything.

  95. Unbelievable! Yes. I am a teacher…& yes my job is going down the drain bc of all the shenanigans going on in Lansing Michigan & our wonderful new ‘transformation’ plan presented in GRPS…but that is beside the point…the point is if people would get their heads out of their behinds & quit bashing each other there might be some sense in this world. It makes me sick seeing all of the negative hurtful things being said which only makes me think that more adults like you are being bred…which means the cycle will never end…be a good role model & go do something productive with yourself rather than come to this blog to cut somebody down. This is the exact reason we are where we are…people are so self centered & not to mention so much emphasis is placed on the media, athletics, entertainment…if our focus was on what is important in life…bringing people up…supporting each other…making comments on the positive things said…positive criticism… Etc…& that is just a beginning place to start…then we might get someplace in this world… You all make me sick! With your idle talk!

  96. Much of the problem with that ultimately comes down to money. Great teaching comes with experience and support. When I started 11 years ago – I had an amazing principal who gave me both. I’m a nationally award winning teacher with 2 masters degrees who is consistently called ‘one of the best teachers in the school’ by parents, students, administrators, and outsiders. I can’t even get interviews at schools for teaching jobs because I am ‘too expensive’. Administrators are encouraged to hire people with 3 years or less of experience to save their budgets.
    The schools are not ‘filled with good teachers’ because we won’t pay for them to be. Rather, we fill the rooms with whoever is cheapest, work then until they burn out without nurturing them into becoming great, and replace them with more newbies every 2 years. Many of those newbies could even become great – but they aren’t given time in their schedules to observe master teachers, attend necessary professional development, or practice. It’s just the age-old problem of ‘you get what you pay for’. An entire staff of experienced, master teachers isn’t considered cost-efficient by districts and will therefore never be a reality unless taxes are raised, schools are funded to the point where the district has enough money to function AND afford their payroll, or we pay teachers even less than they already make. Of course the ultimate agenda of the right is to make teaching a ‘job’ rather than a career so that salaries will always remain entry level and create cheaper-to-operate schools by bringing down the largest variable cost of schooling – teacher salaries. The downside of course being kids will never have experienced, great teachers (research shows it takes 2.5 years of teaching to reach expert level) and you’ll get the exact opposite of what you desire – a school full of poor teachers with a brand new staff every 2-4 years and a cycle of mediocrity – which we’re already starting to see.

  97. I think its wrong to assume – or proclaim – that everyone was previously villifying teachers and are only now, after the Sandy Hook tragedy, understanding their importance and their contribution.

    Teaching is no different than any other profession – there are good practitioners and bad, selfish and selfless teachers abound – there is no one accurate description that fits all teachers and their dedication. I remember some great teachers (http://reliablyuncomfortable.com/2012/12/20/the-chimere-the-pervert-and-the-wrestling-coach/) and I remember some pretty bad ones too. It didn’t surprise me as a kid, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone as an adult that teachers can’t be lumped into one big category of good or bad.

    I am grateful to the teachers at Sandy Hook for their selfless actions to protect children – that makes them good human beings, of which there are many in almost any profession who would have done the same thing, right?

    It’s my personal belief that teaching should be a highly paid, highly competitive profession. Education, after all, is the only way to root out the isms that rot a society from the inside out – e.g. sexism, racism, etc. To be an educator is a great responsibility and I applaud the teachers put me on the path to knowledge…but I had just as many teachers pushing God down my throat , telling me homosexuality was a ‘sin’ and that women belong in the home….. and all the while turning a blind eye to the instances of child sex abuse by the priests who taught religion class at my school. While getting a Ph.D. I had a professor tell me Women’s Studies was a bunch of lesbians siting around whining.

    There are good teachers, there are bad teachers. There are good parents and bad. There are few types of people for which one description will suffice, with the possible exception of gun-wielding mass murderers slaughtering innocents. We can all agree *they* are ‘bad’ — the question is, what are we prepared to do about it?

  98. Beautifully written, powerful content that reflects what every dedicated teacher in America is feeling right now beneath the overwhelming sadness that comes with knowing that childhood will never be the same. Thank you!

  99. wow lots of opinions here. Newtown ..horrific tragedy we all agree. Yes, some awesome humans in that school that day making the ultimate sacrifice…agreed. When other events similar to this happened, there were others who did the same. People are usually GOOD! and will do their best to help out in a terrible situation. Throwing union talk in the mix however has absolutely nothing to do with anything! Revisiting the important role of teachers also has NOTHING to do with anything! I do not recall anyone interviewing and recognizing the professions of those at Mall shootings and McDonald’s shootings, do you? Exactly. Your chosen role in life or profession is up to you. If you are a teacher, more power to you. I might suggest however that since you brought up how wonderful teachers are and how severely overworked and underpaid you are, you rethink that position. I seriously know of NO other profession (in most states) where you work less than 200 days per year and make the salaries you do. The teacher’s unions are some of the strongest unions in this country…yet as your unions have made great gains over the years, parents watch the literacy of this country plumet…and I mean a severe decline…not just a little slide. Yes, parents are children’s FIRST and FOREMOST teachers, but we do PAY you for a job that isn’t getting done. And I will tell you a little secret…. with the advanced technology we have, teachers are not spending HOURS at home EVERY nite doing their DAY job work. How do I know? I have taught..including teaching in grad school, teaching several students in several professions. Do I need to remind you of all the fun little tools on line for teachers? You know, the ones you can download lesson plans and tests and projects, etc? Oh that’s right, not many parents realize how much easier your job is because of these sites. It is our very own teachers who created these sites to supplement their own incomes. And how many of you have parents as aides, helping do the very work you claim you do?
    Our education system is a mess and teachers know it, yet have not done much to fix it. Shall we review test scores of all the standardized tests? These are true measures of what you are not doing at your day job. Spending the first two months reviewing last year’s material so that your students do better on the test…ridiculous! If there was ever an strong argument for year round school this is it!But no, the teachers need the summers off …like that happens in any other profession? Get real folks. I could go on and on , but I think you get the drift.

    Newtown …what happened, the tragic loss of our little ones overwhelms me. But it has NOTHING to do with teachers and their so claimed plight in life. Mental illness, guns, overwhelmed parents…not there are a few topics to explore, but I trust you know we need to attend to this sooner than later in hopes of preventing the next tragedy.

  100. Wow. So much hate and misunderstanding about so many things on this thread. But I think it all boils down to this: there are too many people who don’t treat others with the respect they deserve. It doesn’t matter what your job is as long as you do it with a faithful heart and to the best of your ability. Teaching is difficult. Factory work is difficult. Retail work is difficult. Parenting is difficult. LIFE IS DIFFICULT. we just need to respect each other for what we do and how we contribute to this world we live in. I genuinely appreciate all those who do different jobs than I do because I know they’re fulfilling a purpose, and that not all of have the same purpose. That doesn’t make any of us “better than” another; it just makes us different. And equally valuable. We’ll never get anywhere as a country if all we do is bash and devalue each other for the contributions we make.

  101. If anyone expects teachers to carry guns, they should be willing to see them paid hazard pay With their own tax dollars!

  102. When UTLA agrees on a meaningful role for student improvement in teacher evaluation;
    When UTLA agrees to do away with last hired first fired;
    When UTLA agrees that 235 days is a full work year, and anything less gets less pay;
    When UTLA agrees that dues are paid by members, not employers
    I will concede that the article has some merit.
    A union, public or private, has no business expending union funds to defend the work role of child molesters or persons too mentally ill to subject our students to. (acknowledge ending the sentence with a preposition)
    Unions that are unconcerned about the efficiency of the system (e.g. profits like private unions) have no business existing. It’s even worse when the political contributions go over 90% to one party that provides extra benefits that are unaffordable to public taxpayers. (e.g. the CHP sergeant who recently retired with $500,000 for his final year’s pay and $175,000 annual pension plus benefits while he, just over 50 years of age, goes out an gets a full time job in security.)

  103. The original post was well written and to the point. Just by skimming the comments, I can see that the general public does not grasp the real issues that exist in public education. Between the criticisms of the profession as a whole and the syrupy sweet platitudes of “You have one of the hardest jobs in the world”, we never seem to get all the necessary parties together to deal with those issues in the most productive way.
    It’s been my past experience that people are only interested in public education if it directly affects them and their everyday lives. People in this country range from reminiscing about the good old ” Little House on the Prairie” school marm days to the Hollywood version of the super teacher who deftly teaches the curriculum because of his or her hip personality. Many remember that their school experiences were “awesome” or awful, and often perpetuate that memory for their children
    ( I wasn’t good in math, so it’s no wonder that little Baby Doll stinks at math). Some teacher either inspired them to achieve greatness, or led them on the road to destruction, drug addiction, and intensive psychotherapy sessions.
    During my days of teaching, I cared less for the cheerleaders, than I did for the parents who were willing to believe that:
    their children were not perfect; the challenge of learning new things would not be detrimental to their little ones; teachers were willing to do what was academically best for their children; as parents who continued to parent instead of trying to take over the classroom, school, and city government(because they didn’t like a particular teacher or administrator) had a full-time job .
    Well done, Ms. Myers. You’ve opened the proverbial “can of worms”, but it’s time to get serious about this issue.

  104. The teachers I know of who are inept and have not been let go are those for whom the administration will not go through the process to get rid of them. Some have had the school administration complete all the steps only to have the district administration fail to follow through. The selection process starts early with student teaching. As a master teacher, I did not pass a student teacher who was so inept, they did not even listen to tips from their own university supervisor while being watched during a lesson. The first year as a teacher is a temporary position and administrators need to watch them carefully. The second year is probationary and while teachers need a reason for being let go, it is still easier at that stage than once they have permanent status. The worst teachers have characteristics that are seen early on and need to be taken care of early on. The district AND the union agreed to the steps to being let go at each stage. It is up to the district to follow the steps they agreed to!!!

  105. I have been in my daughter’s room many times helping out. She is a great teacher & very caring about her kids in the room 5-6 year olds. She is so busy with them we don’t even have time to talk with each other. It’s too bad there were people who thought teachers have it made. Wrong!!!! They are there for a reason & kids are well taken care of. I also have a granddaughter who is a teacher & she loves those kids. Thank goodness there are teachers like this – most of them are!!!

  106. You know, there are lots of replies on this blog. Some valid and knowledgeable, some ignorant and divisive. As a teacher for 18 years, I have put my life into teaching. As a parent for 23 years, I have put my life into parenting. I believe there are poor teachers just as there are poor Wal Mart greeters. There are also great teachers just as there are Great Wal Mart Greeters. There are those who chose to be teachers for the vacations and benefits just as there are teachers who became teachers because they simply wanted to make a difference. The problem everyone wishes to ignore is that teaching is a profession that is not designed to make a profit financially. You can’t give bonuses for a good financial quarter, or deduct for a poor quarter. There are no benefits given for overtime, nor deducted for time wasted. The problem is that the money used to finance teachers salaries does come from the taxes paid by others. This makes those others the employers of teachers. If you were an employer who hired construction workers and you could hire one person with 20 years experience and several architectural degrees or 4 construction workers to build a house, which would you hire? Most would hire the four workers for the price of one. The one may be more qualified, more educated, and able to do a much more profitable job, however in the society we have created quantity vs quality is the order of the day. If not there would be a Coco Pazzo Restaurant on every corner instead of a McDonald’s. No system will hire a teacher for a classroom that has a doctorate degree in that field. They would be the most qualified, but come at a much more expensive price. They will hire four decent teachers because society says smaller class size is more beneficial to students. It is not appropriate to judge all situations, by one’s experience. But most do. All who have posted here have an opinion of teachers based on personal experience. Whether good or bad, past experience determines our viewpoint. I am a teacher with a master’s degree who is working on my doctorate and try to always do my best for my students and give of myself and never sell them short. I realize I am educating myself out of a job. I am also a parent and my children have had good teachers as well as bad. There are no perfect teachers and no perfect situations for teachers. We all need to realize we only judge based on our personal experiences. We should stop being so judgmental of others and decide to make a difference for others if we can.

  107. I just retired after 38 years of teaching. I have taught in private and public schools, union and non union. I have had 48 students in a class and 23 students in a class. I have taught inner city and suburban schools. I’ve taught 1st through 12th grades. I have faced a parent with a gun in a conference, while hiding a student in the late 1970′s. Anyone of you could have chosen this career. I taught my students, protected my students and loved my students.

    I would do it all over again, given the opportunity to do so. My first class of 1st graders are now 44 years old. I am 60 years old and am consulting with organizations to help make schools better.

    If a post praises teachers, it is illogical then to assume “all teachers are to be praised”.
    If a post is critical, it is illogical then to assume “all teachers are bad”.

  108. Teachers are underpaid. How is I that someone who throws a football or a baseball bat will make millions but the people who are in charge of education make 20-25k starting out? The ones that you hear about making 100k have been in the same job for 30 years.
    My social network I full of teachers who work over the summer, late in the evenings and most weekends just to be told they are not doing enough!!! Let the lawmakers go spend a week in a teachers shoes. Let them teach, make lesson plans, grade papers deal with all that a teacher deals with everyday. All for the wages of a starting teacher! Not the cushy job of a an elected official that has a lifetime retirement once leaving office making more in a year than a starting teacher will make in 5. Are there bad teachers, of course. But there are ineffective people in every profession. Let us just complain and make teachers into something horrible but don’t forget to go spend $50.00 a ticket for a sporting event!

  109. Reblogged this on IamOkema and commented:
    Poignant, timely post from a teacher to us all following the recent events in Newton. We all should take heart.

  110. So well spoken and representative of our collective soul for our students!

  111. Well said!

    About time teachers got the respect they deserve!

  112. Some times teachers should know that when they want to protest, they probably shouldn’t be going during school hours. Maybe, just maybe people will look at them a little different.

    It’s not the teachers, it’s what the teachers do under the order of their unions. If they’re willing to skip school to protest, perhaps they failed to understand it is a form of strike. Want to raise your voice about the privileges you’re not getting? Do it on your own time.

    Perhaps this is why the students of charter and private schools do a much better job.

    • Students of private schools excel because they come from families willing to spend a LOT of money to send them there – and private schools have the ability to throw out the disruptive or non-performing students. And charter schools do NOT do a better job, on the whole.

      • Isn’t it sad that schools are missing elementary things that education requires, and that parents have to come up with ways to bring those resources into their schools. The fact that schools suffer from these conditions only reinforces the point I made earlier about the attitude of our society as a whole toward quality education. Yes, appreciating teachers is important because they do a lot for the kids. However: APPRECIATING teachers is not quite the same thing as demanding quality results. It shouldn’t be the job of the parents to raise money for schools!!! It should be the job of the parents to demand more challenge; to demand more rigor; to demand tougher standards; – in short, to DEMAND. Instead, parents have turned into SUPPLIERS of what schools cannot supply, through fundraisers and such. The roles of the parents and the schools are reversed from what they should be. Parents are seemingly okay with having to adopt the role of suppliers; instead of being enraged about the fact that schools are missing elementary things that kids need to receive high-standard education. I don’t know exactly how to enact the mechanism to make parental demand heard by powers-that-be that make decisions regarding education budgets. But that’s that proper way. The situation where parents have to fulfill the role of the school and to fill in the gaps that the schools are missing is, from my viewpoint, an abnormal situation.

      • As far as charter schools go: I have only seen research studies that compare EOG test scores of traditional and charter schools. The best study was done by Mathematica in 2010, financed by the US Department of Education. Based on this measure, charter schools do not perform any better. At the same time, I have two serious concerns with these studies. First, is EOG score a proper measure for charter schools? i.e. are we comparing apples to apples? I know that charter schools are required to administer the standard EOG tests, just like traditional schools are; but perhaps charter schools focus on some alternative performance measures besides EOG tests, which the existing research studies miss? Second, what about college placement? What about drop-out rates? There is more to “performance” than just EOG tests. As an academic, I would like to see a far more comprehensive study comparing the two types of schools than what has been done so far to the best of my knowledge. If anyone is familiar with a comprehensive (multi-state, etc.) comparison study of traditional and charter schools, I will greatly appreciate the reference.

  113. Can I just say THANK YOU to all the teachers out there and SCREW OFF to all the people who decided to misread the writer’s intentions (or assign their own) to fit their own personal agenda?

  114. Dear Teacher,

    America is praising the actions of the teachers at Sandy Hook. In no way does this speak for all teachers. I do believe other teachers would have been equally selfless, however I do know many who would not have. Lets not use this tragedy to promote. Lets not use this as a platform to ask for raises. Lets pray for the victims.

  115. Your words cut deeply. For the past week, I’ve been trying to come to grips with what happened–and how our country has reacted, however temporarily to what those brave folks did at Sandy Hook. I only hope and pray that the country learns the right lessons. We have already been cast in the role of overpaid baby-sitters. Let us resist allowing the country to turn us into armed guards.

  116. I am the daughter of a retired teacher. Thank you so much for writing this piece. Educators do so much for the children of America and have been villified in the media. Just know that you all have support from me. Without a teacher, I would have given on my dream. Thank you for all that you do.

  117. I wonder if everyone else knows that we teachers refer to our students as”my kids”. It says everything.

  118. Reblogged this on PRSEA and commented:
    A teacher notes that the tragedy in Newtown has allowed the nation to see who teachers are and what they do. She says, please don’t forget. Don’t let the teacher-bashers take control of our image to distort our reality. The post has “gone viral,” especially since Diane Ravitch reposted it on her blog. The author is Lisa Myers; she writes:

  119. As a preschool teacher from Canada, I feel your confusion at the people who once treated teachers like dirt, that are now praising teachers for all they do. Thank you for your post. :-)

  120. I should never read comments on blog posts like these, but I can’t seem to help myself. People seem to be under the misconception that teachers are difficult to fire. This is not the case, even with a union. Teachers are routinely dismissed from my school and many other schools in my state. The “bad” ones that aren’t dismissed can’t hack it and leave. I can’t think of a single “bad” teacher that I have EVER worked with in multiple school districts who hasn’t been fired through our evaluation system. Students sometimes complain about teachers, but it is usually because the teacher is not content to let the student have their own way or sit and do nothing for 45 minutes. I teach middle school, and I have students who hate me because I care about them and won’t let them stagnate. They thank me later…after they have left. I think parents at home trust their kids too much on what they have to say about the teachers they do not like. I have found the students that don’t like me are the ones who need me the most, and they appreciate it only after they are gone.

    As far as wages being too high…well…My husband and I are both teachers, and we can barely afford to make ends meet. We have no children, and we live in the cheapest, smallest apartment we could find near where we work. We can’t afford a house or a nicer, bigger apartment, and if we had children, we would have to go on welfare. I pray every month that I’m not pregnant because it would ruin us. If that is milking the system for money, then I guess I’m not doing a very good job.

  121. The blog post did not mention unions once. If people are making comments about a union agenda…I have to wonder what agenda they are trying to sell.

  122. Thank you. I am one of those teachers. My bliss is teaching the parents of children of all ages. Recently, due to severe cuts to education, our Parent Education Dept. of 80 years was shut down. It’s a great tragedy for the families of Los Angeles that greatly benefited from our classes. Because teaching parents is my bliss & my passion, I started my own private practice called “Get Help Parenting” teaching parenting skills to groups and individuals. Thank you for speaking up for the noble profession of teaching. I believe parents and teachers are the foundation of the future.

  123. When asked “why did you become a teacher?” I stated, “I love to learn, love to teach and enjoy and respect kids.” I never once mentioned unions, wages, administrations, good/bad districts, politics etc… Perhaps I should have but I think not. Call me Pollyanna but I do what I do every day because I love it and will only continue to do it as long as I do. After 24 years I don’t see it coming to an end anytime soon.

  124. Reblogged this on A Life of Music and commented:
    A very good blog post.

  125. Thank you for posting. From one teacher to another, thank you so much for understanding and for making the world understand.

  126. Yes, educators are a big part of a person’s life, especially in children but that doesn’t mean that parents doesn’t have a job to do.

    It is sad that it took another tragedy for people to realize everyone’s job. Until recently people believe that a teacher was there to raise their children, ignoring their responsabilities as a parent. Parents should teach them morals and values not just feeding them and buying them whatever they want.

  127. Reblogged this on spinningthemuse and commented:
    Lisa Myer’s reflection on the tragedy of the Sandy Hook killings, and America’s response to the sacrifice of 6 extraordinary teachers and staff does an excellent job of showing the hypocrisy that often accompanies tragedy. Teachers, who have been vilified for the last several years, are now the heroes. Much like responders after the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington D.C., teachers in light of Sandy Hook are now heroes. Nevertheless, tragedy allows us a time to reflect, but sadly, tragedy often does not yield change. There is no doubt that our educational system needs a comprehensive reform; however, the events of Sandy Hook will not bring that change. The only change will occur when there is a national conversation about education and the role that teachers play in the lives of all students. Only then will good teachers gain the respect they deserve.

  128. From reading some of these responses- the teacher bashing is in full force regardless of their sacrifices

  129. Leave it to the United States to appreciate a group only when they are in the news. When the war started, I heard so many “thank you for serving” comments it got annoying, but after it was out of the news, I rarely heard it. It’s sad that it takes such a negative event for teachers to get positive attention that is probably forgotten by most of the country already. The idea that teachers do it for the money is ridiculous given the lower-middle-class pittance that is paid to people who spend their lives playing a large part in raising other people’s children. At any rate, thanks for dedicating your life to such an under-appreciated and unsung career.

  130. That horrific shooting has raised public awareness of heroic teachers, and engendered some (temporary?) recognition of the respect due to teachers in general. Although this will not change the discussion much, as seen in the comments here, I hope some individuals will think twice before blaming teachers as a group for conditions they do not cause and can do little to change.

    I’ve been to public gatherings and private parties, and dealt with hostile, demeaning, and downright abusive comments about teachers and our unions. But I’ve had many touching and sincere compliments from parents and family members, thanking me for helping their children. I’ve come to believe that most people appreciate the teachers they know while they mistrust the profession in general. Just as they give their local schools high praise while vilifying public education in general. This response confuses me!

    One note of hope: Standing in a busy check-out line recently, I mentioned to the cashier, a young man about 25, that I was buying little gifts for my students. He stopped and said, “You’re a teacher?” I answered that I teach 4th graders. He said, “Well, thank you for all you do for them.” And then he continued ringing up my purchases. I smiled, but I was speechless. This was the first time I’ve been thanked by a total stranger for what I do. An unexpected Christmas gift to my self-esteem!

  131. I am sorry that where you come from the parents are so unappreciative. I know that I, along with so many of my fellow parents, thank our teachers over and over again. I make a point to thank my children’s teachers for all the creative and wonderful things they do to get our children’s brains revved up. I, as PTA President of our school, work tirelessly to bring resources and programs into our school that the teachers are missing due to budget cuts. I do this after working as a pharmacist full time in a cancer care center. Hopefully this incident , as unfortunate as it is, will wake up your parents. At our school the teachers are praised and I certainly hope they hear it as our parents try very hard to make it heard throughout tg e school year. n

  132. I don’t want to be put on a pedestal any more than I want to be blamed for situations over which I have no control. And the situation of which I am least in control is the environment from which my students come. I’m not talking about abuse or physical neglect (although there is plenty of that); I am talking about homes in which reading is not encouraged, in which soccer or dance takes precedence over school work, in which parents go away for a weekend and leave teenagers home alone. I have a student this year whose family went to Maine for Thanksgiving while he stayed home because he had a tryout for an elite team; I cannot imagine a mother not staying home with her son under such circumstances. Every single year I have at least one senior whose father has decided to leave the family and demand his child divide his or time equally between him and the mother, under penalty of withholding college funding. Other kids have parents struggling in other ways, including unemployment and the threat of foreclosure on their home. Some of my students are working 20-30 hours a week, not to buy gas, car insurance, or CDs, but to help out with the mortgage. Imagine coming to school under those circumstances. I know that, for some of my kids, the 47 minutes they spend in my class is a haven from the crap in the rest of their lives. And I’m in a fairly affluent suburban district. What teachers in Appalachia or the inner city have to deal with is ten times worse. How those folks do it is beyond me. And Chicago teachers are criticized for wanting to be treated like professionals?

    In this country we are required to teach every child. It does not matter whether or not the student is willing or able to do the work. We are expected, in a class of 25 or 30, to tailor lessons to every child’s learning styles and skill level. What happens is that I spend at least 40% of my time on about 5% of the students who cannot or will not do the work. Sometimes they zone out or put their heads down. Sometimes they act inappropriately – calling out or making irrelevant comments, surreptitiously (they think) texting in their laps, or being openly hostile (I have one student I believe to be a walking time bomb). I am sad for the 95% who get only 50 or 60% of my time. In other countries, that 5% aren’t usually in the classroom; you cannot underestimate the significance of this difference. If I could just TEACH what I am expert in, instead of dealing with behavioral issues (or paperwork or testing or dealing with parents in deep denial about their children’s ability or lack thereof), I’d stay until I was 90, and it’s not because of the time off and lavish salaries and benefits.

    I’ve said many times: I love my WORK but I often hate my JOB.

    • THANK YOU for this truthful description of what teachers have to go through. “Parents in deep denial,” “soccer takes precedence over school work,” “students working to help out with the mortgage” – all horrifying facts. It is so true that children of such parents, while being in a relative minority (perhaps only 5%), can completely spoil and ruin the learning experience of the rest of the students that want to learn. And since those trouble students cannot be “left behind” – for reasons that escape me – everyone suffers. Teachers suffer because they have to deal with hostility and spend their time inefficiently. Kids that want to learn suffer. AND THE TROUBLE KIDS suffer as well. They and their parents stay happily ignorant because no one has the guts to fail them. They are misinformed about their level of performance, ability, and motivation. And misinformation has never served anyone well! Perhaps failing them would finally ring the bell… or at least an honest conversation… but that’s not happening. Finally, society suffers because the standard gets lower and lower. Catering to trouble kids does NOT reduce dispersion! It only lowers the mean!!! Until when are teachers expected to struggle with this issue??? When will they finally be able to cater to the best and motivate the rest? I am deeply convinced that teachers’ hands are tied so badly that one simply cannot demand much more from them than what they are already doing – selflessly and diligently. One has to demand for the SYSTEM to change. But for the system to change, we need to reconsider our values and our priorities as a society. I could repeat this over and over again…

  133. My voice did not change. Some teachers are good, some bad, and a few are evil.

    And every now and then, one becomes a hero.

    Ghost.

  134. As parent and grandparent–I do identify with the notion that alot of times —it is bad parenting that is to blame. I enjoyed your post and cheers to your noble profession.

  135. Thank you for this post. Teachers have a thankless job and give so much of themselves to help children grow and learn. I have seen the compassion and love teachers have as they have cared for my epileptic son. Not with a distant hand but have embraced him for who he is and not for what he has. The tragedy with so many lives lost have opened up they eyes of so many who could not see that teachers were always heros. I have never met a teacher I wouldn’t trust the life of my child with and for that I am thankful. Thanks to every teacher and please remember that though it feels thankless, there are always those of us who are grateful.

  136. well said. Thank you – from all the teachers.

  137. Thank you for you post. From a fellow teacher…

  138. Much of what you say is true. Society will always be indebted to its good teachers. Your tilted head and quizzical eye in response to the praise teachers are now receiving is just as puzzling to the rest of us however. If you truly are puzzled by dichotomy of public sentiment expressed, you have only look to the state of Wisconsin for the answer. When teachers leave their classrooms to go protest at the Capitol, lie to their students about what the legislature and the governor are doing, and, worse, use their students for political support, the disdain is fully warranted. There are other examples, like the NYC teachers union, that are just as repugnant.

    If you good teachers want to be better loved and appreciated, you MUST stand up to your unions and demand changes. We taxpayers AND your students would be better served with a few less vice principals and curriculum directors, more realistic pension plans and better paid teachers IN THE CLASSROOM, but we will never get there with the unions calling the shots.

  139. Please stop the teacher and union bashing. Rather,ruminate on these points and questions.

    1) Education is not valued in the United States because it doesn’t make money. Education doesn’t receive the attention and funding that is needed because it is more important to tend to corporate welfare and special interests. More money goes to our penal system than to education.

    1) There is an endemic disease of parenting in this country. It is no parenting and really bad parenting.
    2) If the parents have not done their jobs (teaching right from wrong, honesty, manners, respect, doing your best because it’s the right thing to do, being industrious-you know, positive and desirable character traits) then the schools have a nearly impossible task to perform.
    3) Teachers and schools are simultaneously blamed for most of their students ills while being fully expected to cure these ills. These ills come from kids not getting the basics in their first 5 years of life from the family unit.
    4) Parents are their children’s best teacher. How did our society reach the point where parents believe they have the right to give birth, but that it is someone else’s responsibility to nurture, humanize and educate their children? Many parents put their wants before the needs of their children.
    5) Why are politicians governing education and creating unattainable edicts like _No Child Left Behind_? Policy makers shouldn’t have the right to tell educators how to teach until they have been in a classroom and know what they are speaking about. _No Child Left Behind_ is based on a faulty premise; that all children are on an even playing field. What ever happened to embracing diversity?

    Education in the U.S. needs an overhaul. Smaller and less developed countries have education systems superior to ours. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.

  140. Reblogged this on edjoomacatedlaydeh and commented:
    One of the replies to this post presents an interesting point of view. Can a state education system be viewed as a supply-demand relationship between the parents and teachers?

    To some degree, all schools are a mass-production system. A factory, if you like. If the ultimate quality standards for a particular production line are set by a faceless department, separated from the floor-walkers by innumerable tiers of gatekeepers and report writers (as is the case with state schools), how are parents to demand their own quality standard from the teachers? Ethically and morally, the teachers are accountable to the parents (and vice versa) but financially and legislatively, they are accountable to the immediate funder. Some parents try to gain a greater influence by becoming a source of funding; many parents follow suit because of a sort of peer pressure. It often seems that the only common goal all stakeholders can agree on is that all kids should pass their exams. The particular journey that must be undertaken to reach that destination cannot be standardised, and so we all stay bogged down in the same mire and pulling in different directions.

    The U.S. isn’t the only country suffering with this disease. In the U.K., there are similar problems. “No child left behind” is probably one of the worst ideas ever to have been grafted into the school system. I can cite supposed education professionals in the state schooling system referring to children as “too bright”, “too confident”, “too many enriched activities at home” – and pressuring parents to give their child less, to dumb them down more. This is not usually from teachers, I must add – most of the time, it comes from headteachers, educational psychologists, “the managerial class”. That’s a very telling symptom in itself: the more managers, the less autonomous the workforce – and the less skilled, able and intelligent the workers become, a sort of reverse evolution. As other posters have said, a teacher with more qualifications and experience is more expensive, so the school is less likely to hire four excellent teachers than four fresh-out-of-college teachers.

  141. Reblogged this on The Food of Life and commented:
    What a beautifully written perspective on the life and dedication of a teacher. It’s true, we give our all and sadly are often shoved to the side as someone who is replaceable and worthless. Thank you for your words!

  142. Dear Lisa M.

    I almost stopped reading after your first two paragraphs to scroll down to comment, even though I rarely comment on/in forums like this. But then I realized that doing so would be somewhat irresponsible because maybe there would be something else that might make me change my initial reaction, and I continued reading…

    I could go on and on about how I truly consider teaching to be among be most noble of professions;
    how I have dozens of good friends in the education field;
    how I have the utmost respect for those teachers who are sincerely dedicated to cultivating tomorrow’s leaders;
    how as a taxpayer I will ALWAYS vote in favor of increases in teachers’ salaries;
    how I go out of my way to let my children’s teachers know how much I appreciate all that they do;
    how I could not get through one hour at my own job the week after the Sandy Hook shootings without breaking down in tears thinking about and praying for the teachers and children who senselessly lost their lives, and their families who are left with mountains of questions that will probably never be answered…

    I could go on, because there is plenty more of those sentiments, but the way I read your offering and try to understand your perspective and point of view, ultimately it seems as though you should consider relocating to another region and/or school district where the community displays the sort of respect you deserve. Perhaps doing so would help change your view of and feelings about the “America” to which you addressed your letter.
    … and perhaps you will then resist the temptation to irresponsibly, short-sightedly and ignorantly lump all of us “Americans” into the same group who allegedly criticize you as an educator.
    I wish you all the best as a grateful parent, open-minded taxpayer and American.
    Matt L.

  143. Could you imagine a world where our educators made as much money as a guy who plays with a ball or a puck? A world where our government put more money into our education system and less money into wars? I can but I know it will never happen.

    Most people do not know how much of a teacher’s time, money and private life goes into their profession. It is sad it took such a tragedy opened the eyes of people.

  144. Thank you this letter, I think it serves as a much needed voice for teachers who invest their time and money and into their lives of children and young adults through out nation.

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