Teachers: Let’s start a conversation…

by Jim Lang

Today, I challenge teachers to speak to voters. And, I challenge voters to listen.

I have never seen teachers more frustrated. Virtually every survey reveals teacher frustration at an all-time high. Teacher retirements in Indiana are also rising, even as enrollment in teacher education programs at colleges and universities plummets.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that we are headed for a severe shortage of quality teachers. Fast.

And, if we dig more deeply into survey results and anecdotal evidence, we see a common thread — beliefs that we are headed in the wrong direction in state and national education policy, and that our state and national governments are not listening to us.

I have my own beliefs about this, many of which I have shared on this blog.

But, I’d like to try something different here today.

If you are a teacher, please post your views in the Comments section of this blog (click on Leave a Comment below this post) explaining any frustrations to voters, citizens, and non-educators, outlining specifically what needs to change, and why. What do you think voters and citizens need to know about education policy? Feel free to leave your name, or not.

And voters and/or concerned citizens, feel free to jump into the conversation by posting comments and/or asking questions. More importantly, please read and think about what you are reading from these dedicated educators.

I’ll post my own thoughts and response early next week.

Finally, comments will not show up immediately, as I have to approve them. But, I’ll be checking this site throughout the weekend.

Here’s hoping for an insightful conversation…

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Comments

  1. Carrie Wadycki says

    I am frustrated, but not with my students, my classes, my room, grading, etc. I’m just frustrated with the lack of respect for teachers by “the big guys.” Sure…I get the point of a teacher evaluation system, but that system needs to be fair and make sense. In my heart, last school year was one of my best professionally. I believe I did a great job beyond my other 13 years of teaching. I tried new things and most of them worked. Will I be rated “highly effective?” Doubt it because it is mathematically impossible I’ve been told. And this system determines my pay or possible pay raise? Good thing I’m not stuck at a first year teacher salary for the rest of my life! Why do I stay in a job where there is no incentive for doing more like furthering my education, years of service or sponsoring a club? I don’t know. I ask myself this all the time. I love the kids. I love what I teach. I love teaching what I teach. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a parade for teachers where thousands come out to say thanks and we got paid millions to bring up the youth of America…you know…like the Blackhawks celebration? I would be happy with just the parade.

  2. Lori Hile says

    1. If you haven’t already, join Badass Teachers on FB and Twitter. Overlook the name and feel the teacher frustration. You must request to join and in around 14 days they’ve added almost 20,000 members. That’s a whole lotta angry teachers!
    2. The most frustrating thing is the flat assumption that all Indiana teachers are inherently “bad.” This “reform” movement is nothing more than an attempt by the state to stop funding public education, creating an even larger gulf between the haves and have nots in our state. Teachers have become an easy scapegoat and we have to show we will not be doormats!

  3. says

    My greatest frustration as a teacher is that society and legislators now believe the mistaken notion that a quality education can be standardized and quantified — that we can and should test and measure every aspect of a child’s knowledge and learning, and that they should all be learning the same information at the same pace. My primary responsibility as an educator is not to teach my students to pass a test. It is not to teach them a certain body of knowledge. It is not to ensure they can test out of so many hours of college credit. It is not even to prepare them for jobs. My primary job as an educator is to teach them how to question, evaluate, produce, and value the necessity of life-long learning in a world that is constantly changing. Frankly, our children must learn to be better learners and thinkers than any previous generation, and we will not come close to achieving this without quality classroom teachers and a strong public school system in Indiana. I hope citizens and voters who read this realize what an absolute disaster we have made of Indiana public education and finally realize we must completely reverse course and truly examine what it means to be educated. It is time to listen to educators, not politicians and their corporate sponsors.

  4. Kenny says

    Teachers as a rule have stayed out of politics. We need to be engaged in the political process and to vote for those candidates, whichever party they are from, who support Public education and hold them to account. We need to engage our communities, families friends, neighbors, acquaintances, the people in the grocery store line, the ones pumping gas – whoever and wherever we encounter them. We need to run for oil tidal office ourselves at the local, state, and national levels. We need to do this because politics affects our lives, and our student’s lives everyday. Our working conditions are our student’s learning conditions!

  5. Sandi says

    I am a proud teacher, and I am fed up! I am done with sitting by on the sidelines as my profession is demeaned and my children (all of them – not just the four I gave birth to) have their futures put in jeopardy at the hands of those currently in power (esp. in my state of North Carolina).

    I would like to run for political office – my goal would be Congress and my mission would be a common-sense reform of the ESEA. Of course, being that I have no money or corporate connections, as well as four young children, this goal may have to wait. In the meantime, however, I have a voice and I intend to use it. I have decided to not be afraid to do the right thing, and I have gotten politically involved – with NCAE/NEA, with Public Schools First NC, and with Progress North Carolina. I have put myself out there and I am challenging everyone else who cares about what is going on to do so as well.

    I have spoken at an event for Public Schools First NC ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPkDfBw2nNg ) where I had originally just thought I’d get a chance to former Congressman and state superintendent Bob Etheridge, but I ended up with a chance to actually give a speech, and I took it. I took it on an hour’s notice, and I spoke what I had written out of sheer frustration while watching my students engage in standardized testing that morning. It was 8 minutes of speaking. Please watch. If you are fired up, please share, because what is happening in North Carolina is not an isolated incident.

    I have continued to speak out and gave an interview with a couple of local news stations after participating in an event to deliver baseballs with messages on them to our governor, a man who ignored over 16,000 petitions and a group of parents and teachers to play catch with his security detail – and then proceeded to make several Youtube videos mocking this. (BTW – Here is the news story – http://www.wncn.com/story/22712906/group-to-toss-baseballs-to-protest-mccrory )

    So, I won’t shut up, and I won’t stop doing anything less than what is right for all of the children I care out. Despite all the disrespect and frustrations, I still believe in the power of teachers. I know many of you reading this do, too. Join me and the other Badass Teachers out there. If we can handle what we do as teachers, we can handle this challenge as well.

  6. Dee says

    I have taught for 25 years and I think our educational system is at an all time low. I am very dedicated to my profession and have loved teaching, but I am getting out of the education field because of the lack of respect from administration and above.
    I have been kicked, spit on, hit, and spoken to horribly by children in my class. (five year olds) Then, I have other children that do not do this and are subjected to this as well. Administration turns and looks the other way and says it is my fault that children behave this way. I write referrals on children and nothing is done. They are allowed to come back into the class and torment my children and myself. My hands are tied. They do not respect me and when they go to the office for misbehavior they are rewarded by playing on Ipad or computer time. Why is is okay for this to be the situation? It is not fair to children that want to learn to be subjected to this all day long. I feel like a police officer everyday. It is sad and such a volite and unsafe place to be. We have allowed children to run our schools, and not the teachers or administration. If something does not change in the next 20 years , our schools will have to have police officers at every door to keep everyone safe. This may sound extreme, but something needs to be done to change the atmosphere of schools. They should be a place of learning and comfort and supportive, not a place of uncertainty and frightening.

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