Thursday, March 3, 2011
Teachers: Under Attack
About a month ago, we were 'nation builders' but this week, we are under attack. With cuts in state aid to rising health care costs, it was hard for teachers not to fear the worst for their profession and for their students. But with the attacks on collective bargaining and seniority, it feels more like an attack on the middle class. I often call teaching a stepping stone career. Like many of my colleagues, I am the first in my family to have the chance to go to college and saw a stable, public service career educating others as part of my civic duty. Now public servants are villified. Though we only make up a small portion of the work force, we are now cast as the culprits in causing budget shortfalls. It made me terribly sad when a talented colleague of mine said she wouldn't advise people to go into the teaching profession these days. It made me sad on two levels. First, it was a sign to me how much these attacks were affecting those of us who have devoted our lives to this career, and it made me wonder about the loss of talented teachers in the future. I could go through the laundry list of things I've done as a teacher throughout my sixteen year career-- but I won't. Instead, I'll simply say that there have been times when I've had the chance to direct a young person's life in ways that are tangilble and intangible. Teaching's bottom line isn't like other industries, where the product can be quantified on spreadsheets. There isn't a 4th Q earnings report. Every year I try to help a hundred students move from point A to point B in their lives, made all the more challenging because each one of them has a different point A.
To my colleagues across the country, we stand together as nation-builders, whether we are recognized as such or not.