Career Calling

March 10, 2012

Will Anyone Want to Be a Teacher?

Common Dreams reports on a survey of teachers that found them dissatisfied with their career and the way they are being treated in a time of reduced job salary/benefits and services for students.  The survey, sponsored by MetLife, finds that teacher are facing more and more obstacles to teaching while fewer resources are available.  One union leader says more teachers will leave the profession.  Is that a surprise?

“Education reformers” (a.k.a. union busters) have been attacking teachers for several years.  Now teachers are facing flat (or, here in Chicago, reduced) wages and worse working conditions.  Who would want this job?  The reformers beat their chests and proclaim that their working in the best interest of children.  How can that be if their actions are making teaching a profession no one in their right mind would want to pursue, especially in challenged schools?

In a related article, Diane Ravitch gives Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a taste of his own medicine.  Duncan, one of the reformer-experts who has never been a teacher or principal, touts evaluation as the key to success in education.  Ravitch evaluates Duncan’s performance and finds it a complete failure.  She writes, “Do Duncan’s policies encourage teachers and inspire good teaching?  No. Duncan’s policies demean the teaching profession by treating student test scores as a proxy for teacher quality. A test that a student takes on one day of the year cannot possibly measure the quality of a teacher.”  She evaluateDuncan’s performance in several other areas and finds it equally dismal. 

We need to support teachers while challenging the reformers to prove that their experiments are helping children, not filling the pockets of parasitic corporations that are feeding off education through charter schools, testing, and tutoring programs.  We do need good teachers.  We need to pay them well, get out of their way, and let them teach.

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