Last week I presented at the Indiana Computer Educators (ICE) conference in Indianapolis, IN. The keynote speaker for the first day of the conference was John T. Spencer. John is currently a 6th grade ELL teacher in an urban Title I school in Phoenix, AZ. A few colleagues and I got to sit down with John during the evening hours of the conference and talk about various topics from education to sports. One thing John discussed with us is our society’s view of the teaching profession. What I heard literally made my blood boil.
Take for instance a couple of recent events. One is the NFL referee strike and the other is the Chicago teacher strike. Lets take a look at how the public reacted to both situations. We didn’t really hear much about the NFL referee strike until after the first few weeks of football games. When some questionable calls determined the outcome of several football games, the fans were screaming to get the replacement refs out! Fans of all teams wanted a settlement. Many dedicated fans tweeted on Twitter and posted on Facebook, “Give them what they deserve in pay, our team lost a football game because of poor officiating by the replacement refs!” People were furious over the calls of a game. They didn’t care about the amount of money; just give the referees what they want because their favorite football team might lose a game due to a poor call. Some even posted and tweeted that the NFL referees are professionals that know how to do the job right.
Do you think the public had the same opinion about teachers and the education of America’s future? Unfortunately it did not. The teachers were called lazy and overpaid workers that got finished with their jobs at 3:00 and got summers off. They were not called professionals that know how to do the job right. That made me very sad. I thought to myself, I got a four-year degree at a university and had to pass the National Teachers Exam to get my license to teach. I even continued my education after six years of teaching to get my Masters in Education to learn new methods and strategies to become a better teacher. I have to work an extra job just so that my family can take a summer vacation, but yet I am considered lazy and overpaid. When did a call in a football game become more important than teaching a child how to read or a middle school student how to solve a real world problem on his own? I don’t get it. When did the public’s view of the teaching profession become so negative?
I would love to hear some thoughts on how you believe society has been influenced to have such a negative opinion of teachers and public education.