Ain’t Got No Respect
Salaries keep going up; respect keeps going down. Teachers are responding with their feet, leaving classrooms after just a few years. What is going on?
Fifty years ago teachers were paid only $3,500 a year. Yes, that was a year! Some school systems did not spread the money out over twelve months so teachers had to budget carefully to cover the two summer months. And most took a second job during that time.
But they took the job and they STAYED. Common wisdom was, it doesn’t pay much, the benefits and retirement plan are good, the kids are fun and what we do is important.
It is that last item, what we do is important, that kept teachers coming back year after year sometimes teaching several generations of children in the same family. So what has happened to change all that especially now that salaries are quite respectable, and the benefits are still pretty good.
Well, in the olden days you didn’t make all that much money but when a teacher spoke, even B.F. Hutton listened. Parents told kids, “I better not hear you got into trouble at school because you will get into double trouble when you get home.” Kids knew that. They also knew, “don’t make me call your mother” was a threat to be reckoned with.
Not so any more. Now students are openly disrespectful to teachers. Parents challenge school staff for on any disciplinary consequence. Every issue becomes a legal one with both sides contacting lawyers. Principals tell teachers do NOT send children to the office. School systems tell teachers do NOT suspend a student unless they do something that is really egregious- like setting a fire, bringing a weapon to school, selling drugs.
If that weren’t bad enough a teacher’s professional ability to run a classroom has been taken away. It started when elementary teachers were told what teaching method to use to teach reading. Didn’t matter how the kids learned, this is how we are teaching reading. Used to be a teacher closed her classroom door and taught her class. If needed she took time off to talk about a dying pet, a pending divorce or a lost love. Now there are pacing guides that leave no room for humanity nor for teacher decision making. How quickly or slowly teachers move through the content is decided some place far from a teacher's classroom. Sort of like the Ford assembly line. And then there is the content. In its infinite wisdom, schools used a curricula that was appropriate to the sphere in which the kids lived. Curriculum has now been homogenized to align with those God-awful standardized tests that are setting the standard for education nationwide.
With kids revolting, school administrators dictating, is it any wonder there isn’t enough money to put up with all that. Maybe when teaching becomes a profession again, teachers will come back and stay.