Responding to the ridicule of teachers and the teaching profession by politicians and self proclaimed "experts"!
"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Past, The Present, and The Future of Teaching


A teenager was brought into the Principal's office to be disciplined. The Principal spoke.
"Your teacher has told me you are ignorant and  apathetic. What do you have to say for yourself?"
The teenager thought for a moment and then  replied.
"I don't know what that means and I don't care!"
Do today's teachers exhibit the same mentality?
Are they ignorant of how much effort was required of their predecessors so as to enable them to enjoy the benefits of today's teaching profession? (Benefits which are rapidly being eroded.)
Are they apathetic to the fight to maintain those benefits? Do they merely take them for granted?
I wonder!
Over the past two years I have posted close to a hundred items. They primarily dealt with my observations and experiences pertaining to education.
During my forty years of teaching, at both the secondary and college level, I witnessed tremendous improvement in the status of the profession.
When I started in 1965, bargaining and negotiations were non existent. It was pretty much we went "hat in hand" to the Board of Education and relied on their largess. 
In the years following, during the seventies, teachers worked hard to change those circumstances. Many engaged in political action, many walked picket lines and endured strikes and some even went to jail.
In the end, after much strife, the profession gained fair wages and benefits as well as renewed respect from the public, administrators and the politicians. 
It took a good twenty years of hard work but it was worth it. People gained pride in themselves and in their profession and were eager to say "Yes, I'm a teacher". It came to a point where teachers were actually invited to participate in decision making regarding education and their opinions were valued.
I retired in 2004 and since then I have seen a rapid decline in all that for which we worked so hard.
Today, when some say "Yes, I'm a teacher" he is perceived as greedy, lazy and possessing poor work ethics. All these negative stereotypes are constantly reinforced by the media and self serving politicos.
  Teachers are no longer asked to  participate or make suggestions as to the improvement of our schools. They are merely being held responsible for the poor outcomes of the plans and schemes implemented by "educational experts" and politicians.
All programs and regulations of the past, proposed and enacted by these "experts" have been abject failures as evidenced by the fact that they are continually replaced by new programs and schemes. Additionally, the State's two decade  takeover of the poorest city schools has resulted in no progress what so ever.
Now, since none of the aforementioned has worked, the only plan left seems to be, blame the teachers and then transfer the schools into private, for profit hands.
All this has occurred since 2004 and is accelerating.
You might ask me, "Why do you care? You're retired".
Here's why!
Teachers have become like abused children lacking self respect and fearful. They are constantly required to succumb to the dictates of arrogant, condescending supervisors. Rarely are they allowed to pursue their own worthwhile approaches in educating our children.  I find it depressing to see the profession in which I spent my entire life being reduced to that of an unappreciated, ridiculed field hand.
I would like to begin to use this blog as an outlet for teacher's daily frustration and anger and help the profession to regain the pride that once existed.
It pains me to see all that has been achieved over the past forty years being erased without some much as a whimper.
I've said this before. ( I am sure you know, as a teacher you say things over and over again in the classroom and the habit just follows you into your social conversation without your even realizing it.)
Ross Perot, when at Ford once said, and I paraphrase, "Unless a manager goes down to the factory floor and puts a wheel on a car once in a while, he can't be a good manager".
I would like to see the opinions and thoughts of those "on the factory floor" heeded and respected.  Those people are you who read this blog.
I am considering posing questions about education and teaching and asking for your comments and suggestions. I would then like to post them, with or without the author's name, and get a conversation going about the real problems and solutions in education.
This, hopefully, could be the start of an effective way to stem the tide of teacher bashing and disrespect. I think it could serve the cause better than just my constant diatribes and ranting.
 Having your voice heard, I believe,  will lead to greater self esteem and promote challenges to the forces that would destroy our profession.
What do you think?
A good idea or not?
Something in which you would be willing to participate?
Drop me a line and tell me what you think? Thanks.
Walt

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PS
I really see NJEA doing little to fight back. (I don't even see their sappy ads on TV any more!)
It is disheartening to say the least when a "powerful" union as they would like to call themselves, doing little or nothing for their members. (Members who send them tons of money each and every pay day!)

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