Saturday, May 5, 2012

Myth: Teachers are evil miscreants...

I am sitting to write this blog because I had this conversation twice in two days this week: once with my husband and once with a colleague.  I have to admit I have had this conversation way more times than that though.  It has come up AT LEAST on a monthly basis over the last couple years.  It's worse in some areas than others, but it's pretty bad wherever you go.

When you turn on the news you here,
   1.  It's impossible to get rid of a tenured teacher.
   2.  Teachers earn too much money, and shouldn't be given benefits.
   3.  They don't pay for their retirement, it's given to them.
   4.  They work from 8-3 and have the whole summer off (in addition to winter and spring breaks)

I am here to tell you otherwise!  Yes, I get a decent pay check.  But, you know what that pay check covers after taxes? It pays my mortgage, my car payment, and my student loans.  My benefits are not better than they were when I worked security for a major corporation.  (Actually, they're worse.  My life insurance is minimal, and I can't even get a PPO.  I have an HMO and getting approval for anything is ridiculous.) In regards to my retirement, it's no different than anybody else's.  It's very similar to a 401K.  It;s just operated by the government.  I pay into a fund.  My employer pays a portion also.  Then it gets invested.

I am not an overpaid evil miscreant who doesn't earn her salary.  I go to work at 7:30 AM every day.  I teach all day long.  I have students in my classroom on my lunch break.  Then I get one hour a day to complete all other teacher tasks: grade every assignment, meet with administrators/parents/other teachers, call parents, fill out paperwork, plan my lessons and make copies, grade papers, order supplies/materials for my classroom, and whatever other task my administrator deems necessary.  Oh, on top of that we have staff meetings AFTER school once a week that run until 4 PM.  I do not usually leave school until after 4 PM.  And, that 4 PM time often consists of taking papers home with me to finish grading.

As far as getting rid of a tenured teacher:  It's not impossible.  Certainly, it's difficult and it takes time.  However it's not impossible.  There are simply steps that have to be followed.  Given a diligent administrator any teacher can be gone within a school year or two depending in the offense.  And, to be honest, I think this is justified.  I spend the first two years of teaching at a school site on probation.  Probation means I can be fired for any reason at all and they don't have to justify it for me.  I don't know any company or other government organization that keeps contracted employees on probation for two years.  (If this were "AT WILL" employment, that would be entirely different."

Here's what it comes down to.  I am not evil or bad or lazy for being a teacher.  I am a hardworking person who puts in way more time than people realize.  There are way too many myths and lies out there about my profession.  Without a doubt, there are bad teachers.  There are bad everything.  But, I am sick of being punished and made to feel like I'm horrible when I work my tale off teaching middle school kids who read like they're 3rd graders.

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