TEACHERS – The Whipping Boy of America

August 22, 2010

The teaching profession  and teachers are a strange mixture. There is no greater profession. Without teachers there would be no doctors or lawyers. Without teaching, humans would be little more than protozoa. Teachers and society inherently understand the value of education.

Teachers have pride in their profession that few outside the profession comprehend or understand. Teachers receiving 40 year pins get standing ovations from the entire staff. As the staff claps, everyone expresses admiration and amazement at the fact that a human being could last so long in such a hard and unforgiving business.

Teachers, stay in the profession and fight on against incredible odds; much like a mother lion protects her cubs. Teachers know that without a teacher fighting for them, many students have little chance in life. This dedication and tenacity is both a blessing and curse.

The blessing of such passion are teachers that take on all challenges and obstacles in order to provide an education for students. These are the teachers who will fight through every humiliation, abuse, evaluation, or lack of respect provided by students, administrators, parents, and fellow teachers. I have known teachers that died  from stress, heart attacks and allergies to chalk dust, as their doctors begged them to leave the teaching profession.

This tenacity and determination to teach can also be a curse and a hindrance to the teaching profession. Teachers will  retreat to the classroom and lock the doors when dissension,  controversy, or issues become a problem. The classroom is the safe protected area where attacks and controversy can be avoided. One  of the quickest ways out of education is to challenge the principal or power structure of the school. Another quick ticket out is to question any policy, law, or theory about education. Also, a quick exit out is to say there might be a problem with discipline, student achievement, merit pay, teacher moral, or anything at all. In order to keep one’s job and help students it is often prudent to retreat to the classroom.

This retreat and isolation to the classroom has saved and prolonged many teaching careers. The retreat to the classroom and the isolation of the classroom is also a great weakness of the teaching profession. Because of this isolation and retreat by teachers to the classroom we have become the whipping boy of America. If there is a problem in education or America, then it is blamed on the teachers. We are the easy target that will not fight back.

Where is the collective will and voice of the American Teacher? When are we going to stand together and say enough is enough? When are we going to get mad enough to unlock the doors, step out of  classroom and fight for our students in the public arena? We are the sleeping giant of the professions. How many more Pearl Harbors do we have to endure before we wake up?

Teachers, we must wake up and take the whip from the insulting hand. The time has come to stand together on the local, district, state, and national levels to solve educational problems.

At the school level, honor and protect all teachers. We should honor and respect teachers of high performing classes and programs. We must also honor and respect teachers that take on the challenges of teaching low performing classes that also include individuals who may be a threat to society. We must not allow different forces and powers to divide the faculty into good teacher-bad teacher groups. There are few truly bad teachers in schools, there are many more bad teachers created by poor school discipline and policies. We must fight as one for the rules, policies, and attitudes that make us and the school the best.

The same process must occur at the district level. We must not allow low-performing, highly accredited school issues to  divide the profession. We do not allow Special Education students to be called low-performing. Perhaps there are schools in America that are more challenging than other schools?

At the state and national level, we must develop our voice and power to determine our future. We allow too many people outside our profession to speak for us. The policies, direction, and attitudes in the education arena are created without a strong input from teachers. Everyone else speaks up for teachers. The next time the Texas Legislature steps up to use funds from Teacher Retirement funds, may we have enough voice, unity, and political power to stop them.

As a nation we are aware of a huge bullying problem in our schools. Are we aware that not only the students are being bullied but also the teachers? As adults and teachers we must stand up to the bullying. The passive attitude of retreat and isolation must be replaced with an aggressive and united attitude. Teachers must develop the voice, unity, direction of purpose, and power to say,”WE WILL NOT BE THE WHIPPING BOY OF AMERICA”.

The sleeping giant of passiveness in the teaching profession must wake up. Only by waking up and standing up can we truly protect and fight for our students, the teaching profession, and the United States of America.

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