this article in Newsweek, after hearing about the horrible practices in Rhode Island where Those In Charge decided to fire a group of teachers. I'm a member of our local teachers union, and I am one who is first to complain when one more thing is asked of me, as a teacher. Between my full time job and my OTHER full time job of being a parent, I am stretched pretty thin. I can get behind the argument that, while we may be 'sheltered from accountability' as Newsweek states, in no other profession are requirements tacked on year after year without any compensation. What I mean goes like this.. I am sitting in a 45 hour class right now. Why? Not because I want to take this class, but because someone in Authority believes that I must take this class in order to KEEP my job. I'm qualified to teach today, but without this class, I am all of a sudden UNqualified to teach as of April 3rd. I have to take this class, as well as others, at my own expense, just for the opportunity to keep my job. I pay, out of my own pocket, for each specific area of licensure, for each test to "prove" I am competent. On a guess, I have spent, not counting my Master's Degree, close to $5000 just to KEEP my job. Enough is enough!!
In any other profession, additional education leads to additional compensation, in one way or another. In Public Education, they change the game on us every two or three years. And we jump through the hoops because if we don't, we will lose our jobs. Not that our jobs are all that great, anyway, in terms of monetary compensation. The average teacher in Arizona is lucky to make $45K a year. I wish I were kidding. Starting salaries in most districts around Arizona are $32K. In most of the civilized world, it is closer to $45K for STARTING, and goes up from there. When you consider student loans, the cost of getting an education, the cost of living here in this state, a teacher's salary is not a livable wage. Especially in an area like Arizona where heating bills are highest when we are NOT working, and car insurance is more expensive than any where else in the country. How do they expect to attract the best and the brightest when they pay the same as the local Starbucks?
So I could stand behind the teachers in Rhode Island who refused to extend their day by 45 minutes, and give up their lunches twice a week, and offer free for service tutoring. If we don't stand up and say NO, how far will Adminstration and Legislature push the envelope?
Then I read the article carefully. The average salary of these teachers who refused to add anything on to their day?? Yea.. $75K. Almost TWICE what we make.
My immediate reaction at that point was "shut the hell up and do what you need to in order to help your students succeed".
There are bad teachers out there, no one will deny that. There are folks who are looking at their calendars with their retirement date highlighted, who cannot care about being a GOOD teacher any more - that pension is looming. There are teachers who cannot complete a full sentence without some sort of grammatical error who should not be teaching our young children how to write sentences.
The system for evaluating teachers is bad. But to do away with tenure? That puts a good teacher with a personality conflict with his/her adminstrator in peril, so we need aspects of tenure to prevent that from happening. Stricter standards for new teachers? Maybe - Connecticut makes it nearly impossible to get a teaching certificate in that state, and they do have arguably some of the best teachers in the country (But not necessarily the best education system - not sure how that works).
Clearly - something's gotta give. Maybe this idea mentioned in the article was not such a bad one - blow up the current system and start from scratch. Hmmm.. that might work as an idea for Congress, too...