Monday, October 19, 2009

Quit Bashing Our Teachers

It's a rare occasion when our local "news media" reports anything positive about teachers, schools, or education in general. In fact, right now, teacher bashing is in vogue due to recent reaction to the Saucon Valley teachers strike. And when it comes to education issues, our local "newspaper" provides a stage for lunkhead columnist Paul Carpenter to bloviate regularly his misinformed opinions.

Teachers strikes are not good news, but the overwhelmingly negative opinions about teachers expressed in the majority of letters published in the Opinion section of The Morning Call is bad news for our community. If those know-it-all critics who like to opine about education would volunteer and spend just one day in a classroom in the Allentown School District, I believe they would have a new appreciation for teachers and the extremely demanding job they do. And it's a job that benefits everyone in our society. Sadly, teachers have been labeled as liberal elitists who belong to corrupt unions and work less hours than everyone else. Bullshit. And if it's such an easy and cushy job, then why aren't you a teacher?

Because of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act, teachers must now spend much more time doing paperwork and grading tests, so they are putting in many extra hours in addition to the very demanding school day of handling up to 30 or more kids in a classroom. But before NCLB and its mandated curriculum of teaching to the test, dedicated teachers spent extra time conducting after school clubs, preparing creative lessons, attending meetings and conferences, calling parents. What's expected of them now is unrealistic. And because of the unrealistic demands put on teachers due to NCLB, there is less time in the schedule for teachers to be creative. I could go on and on about the detrimental effects of NCLB on students, teachers, and society but that will have to be a topic for a future post.
Striking is a last resort for teachers. In Saucon Valley, one of the issues that the school board and teachers cannot agree on is tuition reimbursement for graduate work. The school board is discouraging teachers from becoming better, more motivated teachers because they believe teachers shouldn't be reimbursed for graduate work. They want to make sure that the already underpaid teachers don't make too much money by moving up on the pay scale! See this article

But in the private sector, it's common practice for companies to pay for employees to take graduate classes and to continue their education for the overall benefit to the company. This decision by the school board shows a disrespect for the valuable job that teachers do. And the commenters at the above article are saying "FIRE 'EM ALL." If this kind of negative attitude towards teachers is the norm in our community we are doomed, and I can understand why teachers may not feel motivated to do their jobs. Hopefully, the closed minded attitudes of some Lehigh Valley residents aren't representative of the rest of our community. If people really cared about children, they would not be bashing teachers, instead they would be supporting teachers.

This post was written by Mrs. Dottie, a former teacher.