This week’s WTF Wednesdays is going to be a rant of sorts. It’s not going to be humorous, and some readers may not enjoy this one as it’s not my usual satire, but it needs to be said.
This rant will be focused on two of my biggest current pet peeves on the topic of education-my chosen career.
Ignorant, Biased, Uneducated Opinions
I’ve always been the type to speak my mind and to stand up for what is right. I’ve not always been perfect at doing this. Sometimes my voice isn’t loud enough, or I speak too late, or too soon. Sometimes what I really need to do is bite my tongue, but that tastes of blood and defeat, and those don’t agree with my stomach.
Ask any close friend or colleague (hell, anyone who’s my friend on Facebook), and they will tell you I have strong opinions, and I generally speak them.
As a teacher, this kind of outspokenness can literally mark a bullseye on your back. The general consensus in the teaching world is that you keep your strong opinions out of social media discussions and elsewhere. What this translates to me is that teachers should just do what they’re told and to not rock the already capsizing boat.
For someone with a mega mouth, this can be almost impossible to do. When I read the comments section on a story related to education, and I see some ignorant spouting garbage, it takes the power of the gods to ignore it and not respond with the wrath of Zeus.
I know that the state of education in the U.S. needs a lot of work, but until you’re a teacher/have done your homework and done it well/know exactly what life is like as a teacher, kindly sit down.
The very fact that teachers have to defend themselves and their careers against unfounded and ludicrous presumptions is sickening. Until teachers are paid what they’re worth, are treated with respect and regard (we are only molding the minds of our future, no big), and we are allowed to be the ones to make the big, policy-making decisions about what we know best, education in the United States won’t improve.
I was reading the comments section on a We Are Teachers article, and one teacher said that teachers need to stop referring to teaching as a calling, as it creates the illusion that it’s more akin to pledging our undying devotion to being a nun instead of it being a paid career. I couldn’t agree more.
You Can’t Win
It’s a tumultuous time to be an educator, because we don’t really value education as a society. It’s a nice idea, but when it takes from our pocketbooks, it’s a burden. As such, there is never enough funding.
Teaching, support, and admin positions are being cut all across the district where I teach. Amidst these cuts is a new reading law that requires reading specialists and highly effective teachers. Yet, the specialist positions are the first to go at schools losing teachers. Truly highly effective teachers can’t make the grade anymore due to new, near-impossible evaluation criteria.
If a student in my district isn’t reading by third grade, they can be held back and must be placed in a classroom being taught by a teacher rated as highly effective. Due to the new evaluation criteria, there won’t be any highly effective teachers (well, there are, and there will be, but not on paper).
As a teacher at a struggling school, I have to make the decision about how I will teach my students, with the knowledge that high stakes tests and other classroom assessments will ultimately be how I am evaluated and paid. I do not agree with teaching to the test, as it merely prepares students to take tests and not life. However, if I do not prepare my students enough for these assessments, I am left being the one losing out.
It is a painful Catch-22.
So, in preparing my students for the high-stakes tests they will be taking, the very tests that will be considered in how my school is rated and, in turn, how I’ll be evaluated, I wonder how well the student making fart noises during our practice test will do.
In essence, my livelihood is dependent on how well little people who still eat their boogers do on tests. That is terrifying.
And, we wonder why education is failing and teachers are leaving in droves.
Despite all of this, I care deeply for my students, my fellow teachers in arms, and education. I will be an advocate for change. It is time for teachers to start speaking out, standing up for themselves, and working to make the changes that we all know need to be made.
Even though the very act of speaking my mind about my own career is a precarious thing to do, I won’t be silenced. I won’t.
Check out this video on YouTube: