The trend towards not valuing teachers as much as we should has started to shift over the last few decades, but I still think teachers, especially public school teachers, don’t get the credit they deserve. They go into their chosen profession knowing that they will be underpaid and undervalued, yet they continue to teach. They go to work each day knowing that most of the parents of their students view them as overpaid babysitters and that the kids they are trying to teach couldn’t give two shits less about what the teacher is trying to show them, yet they continue to stay up well past their bed time to grade papers and make lesson plans. They go to work everyday knowing that their administration doesn’t have the resources to help them, yet they continue to show up and teach.
I think what most people don’t realize is the value behind an education. Therefore, they don’t realize the value in teachers who realize that an education is vitally important. We only have to look to third world countries to realize that education is the backbone of every successful country in the world. As my favorite history teacher was fond of saying, “If we don’t LEARN from our past, we are doomed to repeat it.”
As far as what can be done about it, there are obvious answers, but a lot of it starts with the parents. If we don’t respect and value our children’s teachers, how can we expect them to value and respect their teachers? If parents would actually give a damn about their child’s education, then maybe, just maybe, their children might too. And once that changes, then real changes can start to be made.
First off, I think teachers across the board should be paid more. On average, they make $40-$45,000 a year, while an IT specialist straight out of college is averaging $65,000 a year. How is that right or fair? Teachers are responsible for making sure your children are productive and functioning (maybe even successful) members of society, yet they make less than most of their peers. This sends the message that teachers aren’t as important, which is an outright lie. If it weren’t for the people that are willing to sacrifice their time and earning potential, none of us would be sitting here reading this, and I sure as hell wouldn’t be writing it.
Second of all, I think teachers need to be given more leeway in the classroom. As it is, most teachers are being forced to teach in a style that they don’t know and follow lesson plans developed by a bureaucrat who doesn’t give two shits that our kids aren’t learning anything and probably doesn’t even have a degree in the subject they are writing those lesson plans for. We require that teachers get at least a Bachelor’s degree in the subject they want to teach in, plus a teaching credential that takes another 2-3 years to obtain, yet we are putting the power in the hands of someone who probably doesn’t even have a degree. There is something seriously messed up about an education system that takes the power to teach away from teachers and puts it in the hands of an overworked and underpaid bureaucrat who has a million other things they have to get done that day. Long story short, we should be letting teachers teach. While some uniformity in the curriculum is necessary, telling teachers how to do their jobs long after they have left school simply doesn’t work. We need to trust that our colleges and universities are doing their jobs when they hand degrees to future teachers.
So those are my suggestions for making teachers more valuable members of society. What are yours?