Thursday, February 09, 2012

I Shouldn't Read Newspaper Comments

My morning routine includes spending some time reading online before anyone else in my house is awake. It's a quiet, reflective way for me to start my day. This morning it didn't work that way.

One of the blogs I've started reading recently is a Washington Post one focused on education in Virginia. The two writers, Emma Brown and Kevin Sieff, do a pretty darn good job of contextualizing education in Virginia, especially given how diverse the school systems are ranging from the D.C. suburbs in Northern Virginia to rural areas. 

Yesterday's post (that I read this morning) was about our governor and General Assembly working to abolish teacher tenure. I have a problem with that term, "tenure" because it suggests a teacher can't be fired which is completely untrue. However, that wasn't my biggest issue this morning.

I foolishly read the comments. Usually there are not a lot of comments on this blog and I ignore them, unlike those for Jay Mathews and Valerie Strauss.However, the sheer number of comments today intrigued me and I checked them out.

It didn't take me long to get irritated. The second comment, actually in response to the first comment, included this little gem:
unfortunately, many teachers out there who outrageously take advantage of the tenure system to slide along and watch the clock, not giving a d*mn about how their kids do in class because guess what: it's impossible to fire them, and the district's hands are tied. 
It's been bugging me since I read it around 6 this morning. I finally realized one of the reasons. Even those teachers who are watching the clock (and I'm willing to assume there are a few of them) are working pretty hard. Their job then is essentially the equivalent to babysitting 20+ kids for 6 1/2 hours everyday. Imagine doing that. Now add on the idea of actually helping those kids learn a ton of stuff, academic, social, and emotional.

If you can truly picture that you should stop demonizing any teachers. I don't care how bad they may be, they are likely working harder than many folks in corporate jobs.

End rant. I'm hoping this will make me feel better.


Unknown said...

We've been dealing with that hear in Arizona. They got rid of "tenure" which was essentially getting rid of due process. A district can now fire you rather than placing you on administrative leave and districts are not allowed to use the years you have worked in their calculations for RIF. In other words, the "stop teacher tenture" was an easy way to get rid of veteran teachers before they could retire.

Jason Buell said...

I just had a similar conversation with my former colleagues about how "easy" it is to be a bad teacher. We have one teacher who does the "pull out the same bad worksheets every year" and yes I'm sure he spends very little after school time on school stuff. But.....his time at school is AWFUL. The kids harass him in every way you can think. He might be one of those teachers that really does work 30 hours a week for ten months of the year but those hours are tougher than anything I've ever had.

Dahlia said...

Do you think the person who posted the annoying comment...
a) was doing so during work hours when they were supposed to be working?
b) checks facebook regularly at work?
c) surfs the net for house decorating, vacation, recipe ideas during work hours?
d) gets to have more than 10 minutes to eat lunch?
e) all of the above...

I'm so tired of the teacher bashing when we all know how much "work" gets done at so many office jobs...

Anna said...

I wish more people had the opportunity to visit classrooms. Most people miss the enormous responsibility of teachers today. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Anna said...

Here is a link to my blog. I just posed something along the same lines.

Anna said...

Thank you for your post. I wish more people had the opportunity to visit classrooms and see for themselves. I am sure there are clock watchers, but hopefully they are the exception and not the rule. I just posted something along the same lines as your post.

Jenny said...

John, Honestly, I had not considered the cost saving measures involved in getting rid of experienced teachers before they have the opportunity to retire. That adds a level of evil to this that causes serious pain.

Jason, Exactly. I don't want a bunch of bad teachers running around (I'm not convinced there are tons) but I think even those teachers are working pretty hard. Suggesting they are lazy shows a clear lack of understanding of the realities of life in a school.

Dahlia, Thank you! People have no idea how much time they have in their jobs that they spend as they wish - something teachers don't do. Judging us is so wrong. (I will offer the caveat that there are jobs that are physically and intellectually intensive and constant but those are not the majority.)

Anna, I would love to have folks visiting classrooms more. I'm happy to open mine up anytime! I do believe we have to look at ways to make sure visits don't disrupt student learning and not every teacher feels comfortable with that, but that shouldn't stop us. The book Teachers Have It Easy: the Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers has a great chapter comparing a day at work for a high school teacher and a pharmaceutical salesman. I wanted to send that book to every politician possible after I read it.