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Monday, March 22, 2010

S is for Soapbox

Warning: This post is not meant to be funny. I am being serious. Do not be fooled by the sarcasm.

Okay, this is going to be me on my soapbox. I am not a political person. A shocker, I know, for those of you who know how opinionated I can be. Starting a Monday morning with a meeting is never fun, but when the meeting is about politics, I have to get up on my soapbox.

It seems that some geniuses (who don’t or have NEVER worked with children) somewhere out in Utopia Land want to pass something called Senate Bill 6. Aka,  they want to base teachers’ salaries on student achievement.

It means this: Each teacher will be given a classroom full of capable, motivated, well-supported children. Teachers will then have all the time in the world to teach them grade-level content (which they will all easily comprehend), receive homework back everyday from all of these students, and have ABSOLUTLEY no behavior problems to deal with. Oh, and all of the kids will be fantastic tests takers and will be in wonderful/relaxed moods on testing day.

Oh. No. Wait. I’m sorry! That only works for the teachers and students who also live in Utopia Land. Hello Dudes! We have REAL KIDS! We are NOT MIRACLE WORKERS. This is NOT a business in which we crank out little perfect people and we can’t throw out the ones that don’t meet the inspector’s criteria.

The reality is more like this: We are given a classroom full of students who come to us from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Some deal with abuse, hunger, fear, depression, and learning disabilities. They may come from families where they are the best readers. We have to teach them no matter what they need…on, beyond, and below grade levels. We sometimes get no support from home and fear that students backslide over the summer. We have a certain amount of time each day to teach each subject (with accommodations/modifications) and we deal with behavior problems that cause severe distractions. We even teach some kids to speak the English language!

As educators we are also babysitters, counselors, food providers, police officers, referees, and sometimes a parent to the kids we are given. What if we were paid for doing all of those jobs too? Where’s the pay for those “performances”?

If teachers’ paychecks depend on their students’ performance, we will have really big problems. Will it be the poorest of us in Title 1 schools with the kids with learning difficulties? Will we turn into pressured, burned out people in our first years? Why would anybody want to pay for years of college to never be called a professional?

I understand we have some not so great teachers. But, you know what? We also have some really crappy legislators. People who make decisions for us, but have no idea how it will affect us. Maybe if these brainiacs were paid based on the success of their decisions, they’d start to think more about the pros and cons. Yeah, and maybe they would have to take a few achievement tests, too.

I’m just saying that us teachers do our jobs because we LOVE the students we teach. In a world where we can make loads more money in other jobs, we CHOOSE to do the one that CHANGES LIVES. Please explain the seriousness of Senate Bill 6 to your friends and family. We need to show these decision makers the real world.

The end. (Stepping off the soapbox until the next ridiculous political issue. )

I have seen this comic in several places. We need to make a billboard or a commercial of it.

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