It has been taken hostage by "ed reformers", standardized test creators, and "teacher accountability".
How did this happen to a profession full of intelligent, passionate, outspoken people?
Are we uninformed?
Are we choosing bliss via ignorance?
Why is this happening?
I have some thoughts...
- Teachers love their students and their jobs.Those of us who do not just see this as a job, are the worst offenders. We love our students. And because we love our students, we put them first. Because we love them and our job, we come in early, and leave late. We grade papers anywhere and everywhere we go. We make ourselves available as much as possible. We spend money we don't have buying supplies. We write grants and enter contests trying to get things our students should rightfully have. I remember when our union rep asked us to fill out forms depicting all the hours we work outside of school. There were so many hours, I just stopped doing it.
- We don't follow through. Perfect example of not following through in the above bullet. If all the teachers in my district had filled out those forms, can you imagine what the impact could have been? But like me, many teachers probably started, and never followed through. Thus making something that would have made a statement, worthless.
- We don't trust our unions. I don't fit in this category, but there are many teachers that do. I am not saying the union is perfect and always has our best interests in mind. But, there are times when they do. If we fight with them, instead of against them, we might stand a chance.
- We take the blame. We allow others to label us as the problem and we accept it. How many posters are out there ask the same question in different forms? "Would someone blame a doctor if his patients stayed sick because they did not follow his/her advice?" What happened to the parents in this equation? And why is there something wrong with teachers who stand up and say, "What about the parents?" I remember some of the backlash I got from teachers when I wrote a post asking for parent accountability. We can't do it all, and if learning doesn't begin at home, if we have no parental support, and we bend over backwards trying to get it, why should we blame ourselves?
- We don't want to be "that" teacher. I have a bumper sticker on the back of my car, "Testing to Despair." A colleague told me I was brave. Not really. Brave is telling administration you refuse to give a standardized test. But I fight the fight the best I can. I blog, march, sign petitions, and spread the word. I don't mind being "that" teacher. And yes, we all fear the repercussions, or ending up on the "list" (because we know what payback is, don't we?) But we can't continue to hide behind fantastic lessons, edtech, and passion for our students, and pretend we aren't being held hostage.
- We don't speak up. I have found myself guilty of this on more than one occasion. We sit at a meeting and listen to the next "ANT" (another new thing) burden that is unloaded on us, and we don't say.a. word. Until we get outside the meeting, to our friends' classroom, the Teacher's Lounge, or our spouse's ear. My hubby always tells me, "I am not the one you should be complaining to". But again, with speaking up comes the fear, will I lose my job today? Will there be repercussions? But if enough of us speak up, or shout, they can't knock us all down, right? Just signed a petition our union sent out, and it was great to see a good number of signatures!
- United we stand, divided we fall...right on our faces. I remember when BATS (Badass Teachers Association- 39,000 strong!) started. I joined. What bothered me were teachers/educators who publicly criticized and/or mocked them .Yes, I am sure there is friction within the organization, people who just aren't right, but I am sure many of them are getting things done. Maybe not the way some would like, but they are getting it done. I remember when Jose Vilson wrote a post about people calling him out about something he posted because he did not attend the march on DOE. When we attack each other, we leave ourselves open to attack.
- It's not happening to me.
Are teachers too tame? Should we take some of the blame for the destruction of public education by our silence?