I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but over the last few years criticizing public school teachers has become a favored activity for some people.
Remember when teaching was an honorable profession? I do. What happened over the years that made teachers the bad guys? I know what some of the complaints are, so let’s go over some and debunk those myths.
“Teachers are overpaid” is a popular one. The median teacher salary in 2014 according to salary.com is $52,380, hardly exorbitant. Teacher salaries vary by state and district. The median salary of a public school teacher in Grand Rapids, MI is $51,893 while in New York City the median is $61,761.
“Teachers don’t even work during the summer” is another popular one. It is true that the vast majority of teachers are not in the classroom in the summer. Do you know they are always taking continuing education to sustain their certification?
I actually had this conversation with a friend of mine a while ago. Him-“Teachers have the summer off for 2 1/2 months.” Me- “Okay, then let’s go to school year-round.” Him- “Oh no, we can’t do that, the kids need that time off.” My obvious response “Then what do you want them to do? Go teach to an empty classroom?” He did not have an answer.
Almost half of public school teachers leave the field within the first five years of their career. This seemingly endless bashing of them does not help in creating great teachers when they are constantly looked at as gum on the bottom of your shoe.
Are there bad teachers out there? Of course there are, just like in any profession. Look around your office. There is likely one person there not pulling their weight (he or she is probably connected to the owner or manager, but I digress).
Did you know the average teacher spends over $500 a year out-of-pocket for their classroom? How many people in business do that for their office?
I know a teacher who will volunteer for “activity” night from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. to organize fun things for the students to do. How many people volunteer five hours of their time at their office, on a Friday night no less?
As far as the “teachers make too much money” thing, I know some people complain because they are public employees so they must be paid too much, consider the above teacher’s example. He is in his 23rd year, is a department head, and has nearly two Masters degrees. Imagine that person in the private sector with the same credentials. He would probably be making about three times as much.
I remember teachers like Mr. Fisher who actually made learning Algebra fun, or Mr. Quigley who somehow made Government class interesting.
I was a pretty rambunctious child, so let me apologize to my second-grade teacher Mrs. Stout. I must have made her life a living hell, but she helped me out.
The next time you see a teacher, maybe go shake their hand or give them a pat on the back instead of a kick in the pants. They’ve got a hard job.
[Image via fortresslearning.com]