Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Losing the Best

There's something wrong with a system that is losing its best and brightest to burnout.  I'm talking about the education system.

In all my years of teaching (20), I have never, repeat never, seen teachers so discouraged, disheartened, and downtrodden.  This seems to have hit young teachers especially hard.  It is ironic, as these are the teachers that politicians speak of as the type of teachers necessary to save our (supposedly) terrible educational system in the United States.
Well, I have some news for those politicians.  Nobody wants to stay in teaching anymore.  And especially, talented, creative, driven young individuals.

Can you imagine a job where you were complained about, judged, and yelled at on a daily basis?  Where your clients were lazy, unmotivated, and enabled people who you were expected to get to pass the end of year test?  Where you were being economically stressed by budget cuts, insurance costs rising, necessary supplies being bought out of your own pocket, supplements for having an advanced degree taken away, bonus money for meeting yearly goals taken away?  Where you were told to be "professional and positive and be happy you have a job" but you weren't given the respect that a professional deserves?

This is what is happening to teachers.

All the power is being taken away from us.  We used to be allowed to have kids miss recess if they hadn't done homework.  After all, that seemed to be a logical consequence:  you don't do your work, you don't get to play.  But no!  No longer can we do that.  Kids have to have their 30 minutes of daily physical activity.  So we got creative, as teachers do.  We started assigning walking laps as a consequence.  The students still got their physical activity, but they were not allowed to play if they hadn't done their work.  Fair enough.  But no!  We can no longer even do that.  So what consequence do we have if children do not do their classwork or homework or are disruptive in our classrooms?  Not much.  But that's okay, according to the powers that be.  We want little Susie to be physically active and to not view exercise as a punishment.  Barf!

This country has gone overboard with pinning all the evils of society of our education system.  Teachers are accountable for everything, from bringing non-English speakers up to grade level in reading and math (and don't forget that the end of year test is in English!) to providing character education in the classroom to including globalization studies as part of the curriculum. 

It's just ridiculous.

And that, my friends, is my analysis on why we are rapidly losing our future generation of career teachers.  It's very, very sad and breaks my heart, but I have to say I can't blame them.