Before I say another word, I need you to know that I love teaching. I feel like I was chased out of my career.
I gave up a position at one of the best schools in my district, because even the incredible environment there could not protect me from the rest.
I’ve always known that education is undervalued in this country. After 10 years of trying to make my classroom a special haven for my students, I can’t do it anymore. The whole time I protected them, the system chipped away at me.
What was getting to me? Coming into work with a big smile on my face and talking to my kindergarteners in my ice cream voice while fighting against a truly awful mandated curriculum- this came after years of having no curriculum at all and being told to make it up.
Figuring out the ethics of being told to teach the bad curriculum for a few more years to show leaders the kids are failing.
Working my butt off for my master’s degree just to watch master’s compensation be voted down again in favor of the subjective “pay to play”
National Board Certification program that expires every 5 years.
Learning to protect my students against all odds from society, abusive situations, a random shooter, disease, covid, bullying, hunger, elections, and so much more.
Being told that after all we went through in 2020-21 that the teachers are the reason children are failing and so we will be punished with endless professional development, tests, and surveys that only take my energy away from my students. Do it on your own time though- and all these extra responsibilities will come unpaid.
I want a career where my education and experiences will be listened to. It’s exhausting to carry on the mission of people who do not know what schools are actually like.
I want a career where I get a guaranteed lunch break and I’m allowed to use the bathroom when I need to. I’m tired of feeling guilty for being a human with the need to eat, use the bathroom, and take breaks.
I want a job where I’m paid fairly for the hours I work. A job where giving 100% is enough- believe me the teachers you remember and love where giving at least 150%. All those staff meetings, parent teacher conferences, and weekends working were expected but completely uncompensated. And I’m tired of being told I’ll get professional development credit for it when that won’t even apply towards my license renewal.
Whether you’re in a traditional public school, trying to reform in a charter, or doing your own thing in a unique private school, the system and its expectations are broken.
Republicans will tell you that privatizing schools will fix this- it won’t. Those schools are micro versions of public schools cherry picking what they do and don’t like down to the population of their student body. Instead of advertising test scores- they just guarantee results to get into college or push a religious agenda. Many determine pay by looking at the local public schools. They often pay less with the promise their children will get reduced tuition; reduced not free. They are a reaction to the system, not a solution. We are failing the children of America and abusing the employees who try so desperately to make it work. If you know a teacher, check on them- the weight we carry is unbelievable.
So, what should you do?
- Educate yourself on the policies of your local and state schools. Pay attention.
- Question how standardized testing is being used to guide and gaslight education policy.
- Ask how employees are being compensated and treated- especially those in states like North Carolina without a union.
- Question why we aren’t giving more funding to schools and teachers. It’s not selfish to ask for basic standards in our schools- it’s a proactive investment in our future.
- Once you know- vote, tell your friends, and keep voting and advocating for change.
- Write down the names of lawmakers doing things you like and those you don’t- have the list ready come election time.
Something has got to change- don’t you want to be a part of it?
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