Friday, March 4, 2011

Save the Teachers

My home state of Wisconsin has been making a lot of headlines recently and the news is not good. In case you haven't heard, the current governor - Scott Walker - has decided that to solve the state's budget woes his only option is to destroy collective bargaining for public employees.

While troublesome in a broad sense because of its disdain for labor, the group affected by this decision that I'm most worried over is Wisconsin's teachers. I'm indebted to Wisconsin's public school system for my education - which was a truly excellent one at that. Teachers helped me to discover my love of learning and my passion for writing. They encouraged me with each step I took toward my goals and when my high school A.P. English teacher surprised me at my book release party, we both cried.

When I was home over the holidays I had the opportunity to visit my former high school and meet with students and teachers. I'm returning to the high school to give formal presentations on writing in April. School visits have become one of my favorite parts of being an author. Teachers play a vital role in organizing special programs, like author visits, to schools. I'm always impressed and moved by how incredibly hard these teachers work. Educators go far beyond the expectations of their jobs in order to enrich children's lives. Teachers are among the most dedicated, over-worked, and under-appreciated laborers of our society. Rather than being recognized for all that they do to help our communities, they've become an easy political target; scapegoats for social and economic ills for which they are not the cause.

I can hardly believe my ears when accusations of over pay for easy tasks fly. Teachers are not overpaid. Many teachers have second jobs in the summer months so they can pay their bills. During the school year teachers are not simply in the classroom, they are running after-school programs, coaching, mentoring and offering enrichment for students who would not otherwise find outlets for their gifts.

The attack on teachers is nothing less than an attack on the welfare of our society. To disrespect the contributions and sacrifices that educators make in service of the community is akin to dumping toxic waste in the river of the present so that its poisons can be dealt with downstream by the future.

16 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more. Thank you for putting it into better words than I could have! Galleysmith did a really great post on what we'd owe teachers if we paid them at babysitter rates - http://bit.ly/hdDHh6 - talk about eye-opening!

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  2. Thank you so much for writing this! My family and I are working hard to try to defeat this bill. We support the teachers and school personnel who deserve better than what this governor is trying to do to them!

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  3. From one teacher to another, I am happy to see your post. Mpls is sending some teachers to protest in WI this weekend. A lot of us are scared and feeling disheartened, especially when everyone in this country has a teacher to thank for their education.

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  4. I'm going to be a teacher, so I love this post. Teachers need to be respected and acknowledge, not left behind!! Love this.

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  5. THANK YOU!!! I wish I was seeing more of an outcry against Walker and his cronies. What makes this really nauseating is that the first thing he did as the new gov of WI was to gift his corporate buddies with millions in tax breaks. Then....geesz folks, we seem to have a budget shortfall. Republican goveners in surrounding states (my beloved Michigan included)are watching carefully. If Walker gets away with stripping collective bargaining rights from public workers, the rest of us will be next. The next thing they'll try to do is turn us all into "right-to-work" States, (republican speak for "right-to-exploit").

    I'm really glad you wrote about this Andrea. I'm hopeful that the people of WI will not stand for this assault on teachers. I'm looking forward to 2012

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  6. Great post, and you are so right. Teachers deserve so much more.

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  7. So true, Andrea! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I hope the teachers of Wisconsin get the rights they deserve.

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  8. Great post, Andrea! My mom was an elementary school teacher and I volunteer hours every week in my son's school. The teachers at my son's school are some of the hardest working and inspiring people I've had the pleasure of knowing. We're fighting a different issue in Colorado, but it's one that also attacks teachers and the public school system. I'm on a political mission right now too, so good luck!

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  9. Thank you for posting this! I'm getting my certification right now, and it discourages me when people belittle what teachers do and blame them for things that are often beyond their control. And, seeing firsthand how much work *really* goes into teaching (not that I went into it thinking it would be easy at all), I have to say I find the concept of a teacher as an overpaid, glorified babysitter completely ridiculous.

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  10. Thank you so much for posting this Andrea. I'm a public employee in WI, so this bill affects me too. The attack on the teachers especially disgusts me because they make such a difference in the lives of children. I honestly can't believe the way some of the media has been portraying them.

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  11. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I have been teaching for 5 years, a milestone for many since half of all new teachers don't make it to that point. No one in the media has bothered to mention the inability to retain good teachers because of how poorly we are treated.

    I have been blessed in my teaching position because I work at an amazing school with supportive staff who have allowed me to learn and grow. Many teachers these days don't have that luxury. Instead, they're asked to show results on standardized tests and when the students do poorly, the teacher is blamed, yet we are constantly being bombarded with bigger class sizes and a greater number of special-needs students mainstreamed into the general classroom. And then we're asked to differentiate to make sure that all of our students' needs are being met.

    Oh, but we only have to work 9 months of the year so that justifies everything. We're only part-time employees who do very little in the grand scheme of things.

    When did teaching go from a noble, revered profession, to one looked upon with disdain and disgust? It makes me so sad.

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  12. As an educator, I am even more sad for the children than the teachers (although don't get me wrong, I am plenty sad for us teachers). How dare adults rob children of their future? Kids deserve a quality education, and it is our responsibility as adults to see that it is provided for them.

    Education does not come cheap. What a horrible place to try to scrimp.


    Nothing is free.

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  13. Thank you for the wonderful comments and for the teachers here - thank you for all you do!

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  14. As an educator, I say YES! YES! YES! I am giving away a copy of your book on my blog if you want to spread the word.

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