I knew I would never make a lot of money as a teacher. But I did not expect that I would not be able to cover the basic needs of my family. I should not have to take a second job to be able to afford my first.
I don’t care how many years you sat in a classroom as a student. Unless you have taught children, day in and day out, for years, you can never have an appreciation for the energy and skill it takes to be a teacher.
I may arrive on campus at seven o’clock and leave campus at three o’clock, but you can bet that I am grading papers, writing lesson plans, responding to emails, and worrying about my students at all hours of the evening and weekend. I don’t stop being a teacher because I am not in my classroom.
Similarly, the school year may end in May, but I spend a majority of my summer “vacation” planning for my next school year. I go over my lesson plans, revamp things that need to be changed, take classes (at my own expense) to earn continuing credit hours for my certification, meet with my professional learning community, organize my classroom, and anything else that needs to be done that I didn’t have the time to do during the school year.
I honestly do not believe that a test score is a good measurement of a student’s abilities or my value as an educator. Some children have test anxiety. Some children come to school hungry. Some children have parents who work three jobs and the burden of childcare falls upon older children. Some students are homeless. Some children come from homes with two parents and plentiful resources. Tell me how one test can measure all of these children equally?
Cramming more children into classrooms may seem like a sound budget plan, but there are also costs. Students miss out on valuable teacher time. Teachers will burn out at insane rates. Test scores will fall. Politicians will pat each other on the back for a job well done.
When you fail to properly fund education, you send the message to the public that you do not care about children and the future of your community. When you take money from public education and spend it instead on private prisons, you paint a stark and dire picture of the future.
I love teaching; I love spending my days with my students who, while they are young and as yet unindoctrinated to the “real world,” they still understand the value of a teacher who cares, who invests in their future, and who wants to see them become the best possible version of themselves.
On the other hand, if you continue to starve us of funds and resources, we will continue to see many of our colleagues leave a once noble career. We will continue to see many bright, young people, who might have shared their passion for learning with younger generations, choose another career path. Children will continue to fall through the cracks and lose out on their full potential. Politicians will continue to pat themselves on the back.