Reality Check: Teacher Appreciation Day

“Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.”

~ Andy Rooney

Rules for Students Fall 2009-1

The other day, I called in to my friend Christopher Gabriel’s radio show to talk about education. He was discussing class size and some of the other issues and challenges facing teachers in this economy, and it got me thinking. Actually, I’ve been thinking a lot about teachers since the football season started.

That’s right –  football makes me think of education, or rather, it makes me think about the skewed value system we have here in America. Now, I know we are not alone in this regard, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous — and I really do think it’s ridiculous. We glorify athletes, but think nothing about complaining about teachers or bemoaning the state of our education system without doing anything about it. And putting kids in private or charter schools is not doing anything to improve our education system, but rather offering band-aids for individual kids/parents.

Consider this: according to ESPN, the average salary for teachers in one Texas school district was $42,400, while the average salary for football coaches in the same district was $73,804. Seems fair, right?!

The average public school teacher in the US makes $46,752. This is obscene. Not only have they gone to college and often graduate school, but they have gotten certificates and kept-up their mandatory continuing education requirements, which more often than not are courses they have to take on top of their incredible workloads during the school year.

Contrary to popular belief, teachers work very long hours, often staying after school for several hours for mandatory meetings, after-school activities, and to do more work. In the evenings they grade papers, work on lesson plans, and go out and buy supplies with their own money. That’s right — they buy their own supplies. Staplers, classroom decorations, and very often, whatever they might need to do a particular lesson they have planned. All of that comes out of their own pockets. Can you imagine if your boss required you to buy your own office supplies to do your job?

So, you are saying, “But they knew what they were getting into when they signed up for this.” Perhaps, but somehow I doubt it.

The reality of teaching in the No Child Left Behind era and in today’s society is very different that anything a soon-to-be teacher could fathom. A bit of student teaching can’t prepare them for the reality, and their love of children and desire to do good will only help keep the blinders in place for so long. But those blinders will fall away and we will continue to lose teachers and make it more difficult to get college students to pursue a degree in education. And who could blame them?

The question is: what can we do about it? If you are a parent with school-aged children, how can you support the teachers in your school district and work with your child’s teacher? These folks are up against so many hurdles and are not being given the tools, support, or resources to overcome them, so why would they stay? Would you?

Oh yeah, and if you are reading this, thank a teacher, not a football player. Just sayin’.

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

Creative Commons License photo credit: mick62

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