Leading the charge for our schools

November 18, 2010

I AM almost glad that the public attack on teachers has begun. For way too long there has been an undercurrent that has just now risen to the surface. An undercurrent is hard to detect and a challenge to combat, one is never really sure that it exists. Now we know for sure!

No longer can we, the public school teachers of America, sit back and allow our professionalism to be questioned, challenged and attacked by those that have never adequately invested in public classrooms. We now have been forced to take a side, as Rita Solnet described so eloquently in an article titled "Casualties of the Aftermath--The Children". It is now a "war on 'them vs. us'--'Feds vs. unions and an entire population of teachers'".

So who is looking after the students' side? I have heard many politicians, media mongrels and CEOs speak as though they are defending the side of students.

How many of them have taught or could teach a class of 20-30 kids during the day?

The day begins at 7:45 a.m. You supervise the playground until 8 a.m., then take students to your classroom and begin instruction at 8 a.m. Grab two bathroom breaks--once before students arrive (if you are not on hallway duty) and the other during your 20-minute lunch. Grade 150 papers covering five different subjects, make several attempts to contact at least one parent, attend a team meeting during a special area (kids' PE, art or music time). Make adjustments to your daily classroom plans.

You leave work at 4:30 p.m. only to return at 7 p.m. for a Parent-Teacher Organization meeting where you not only serve the refreshments, but you are responsible for providing them (and there's no budget for refreshments). Clean up, and then back to the classroom to quickly change a bulletin board.

You get home, make cupcakes for a child in the classroom that is having a birthday tomorrow (the child's family cannot afford to do this). Run to Wal-Mart (yes, the corporation that does not support public schools, but it is the only store within 40 miles) to grab a healthy snack; assessments are tomorrow and parents have sent in nothing.

While in Wal-Mart you remember that Johnny (the one that can not read yet) needs shoes because the soles of his have holes and his socks (that you bought last week) get wet when it rains.

Last but not least, a quick run through the drive-through teller to deposit teacher lead money (all of $177 for the year) so you can purchase the supplies needed next week to complete the science activities in your state-adopted curriculum. The $640 salary dollars you were paid for the week is about gone and the kids at school really need to experience science from a hands-on perspective. Back to Wal-Mart. (Had you not been so exhausted, you might have planned this better.)

Ten o'clock and home at last, just enough time to bathe, review lesson plans for tomorrow, read a chapter of the book for a requirement of your Individual Professional Development Plan, (which is tied to your yearly evaluation).

Lights out at 12:30 a.m. Sleep comes slowly, because you are trying to remember if Mary received additional encouragement during the day. Her parents are going through rough times and she needs additional support.

The alarm goes off at 6 a.m.--time to begin again!

TEACHING WAS once professionally rewarding, but is now demanding, stressful and overwhelming. There is no "down time" in education; gathering data and paperwork take precedence over planning and developing quality classroom instruction. June, July and August have now been reserved for ongoing "professional development."

I would not have chosen any other profession; I knew before hand what was required. I had been well prepared by my university.

I just never expected public attacks that are offensive, misleading, often completely inaccurate and down right hurtful! I am not alone; the teachers I know and work with are professional. Their lives also revolve around their classrooms--ask their spouses. We deserve to be respected, included in educational discussions and decisions, paid and treated like any other professional. No longer should we wait for fair treatment--we must now insist upon it.

If and when Corporate America takes over the public schools, professional teachers may become obsolete, a thing of the past. But who then will lobby for students' educational rights? Corporations and politicians are great at selling Americans the next "best" scheme; they hire professionals that know just what to say, and when to say it.

If educators do not stand together, backed by our unions, then we may very well lose students to the politicians and CEO's of Corporate America--whose interest lies in getting the most for their money, regardless of what is at stake. Corporate America places no value in human capital. Their devious plans have more to do with profit making.

Without a solid public educational system founded in logical principles of education, our children will continue to be the ultimate losers and all Americans will suffer the consequences. There will never be enough prisons to protect our society from the angry young adults with active minds who have been denied access to a quality free public education simply because of their zip codes. These students will wreak havoc in an effort to entertain their minds as they struggle with fitting into our modern society.

Americans should band together to support real educational reform, which will only come from educated educators that can provide accurate background knowledge--from those that know what will work and what is just lip service being sold to the general public.

The ideas that are currently being sold by the media, corporate America and politicians definitely will not work; they have already been studied, researched and proven inept. The role of these three groups should be that of stewards, not controllers of education. (It has been said that an ignorant society is much easier to control then an educated one.)

The majority of public school teachers are women, but do not mistake us as weak-hearted. It is once again time in America for women to unite and flex our muscles. We can face these attacks with our combined strength and commitment. After all, it is our children that will suffer.

Tell Corporate America, the media mongrels and the politicians to back the hell off! Quit standing in our way, because we are preparing to reclaim our schools.

Now, who wants to lead the charge?
Cindy Roach, from the Internet

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