Monday, September 20, 2010


I just watched a new Oprah show about the state of our educational system. It was fairly negative about teachers, and although they praised effective teachers, they placed a lot of blame on teachers in general. I am not sure how I feel about the media's take on education and teachers. On the one hand, I come from a long line of educators. From my grandmother, who taught English and Latin to my mother who taught 2nd grade for 25 years, my father who retired as a high school administrator and finally my sister who very recently retired as a reading specialist, I have been immersed in education for most of my life. I know how difficult it is to be an educator, and especially a conscientious one. But from a mother and grandmother's point of view, it terrifies me to know and hear about some of the poor teachers employed in our schools. What the show did not seem to cover was the difficult task that teacher's have. By this I mean the social problems, the paperwork, the poor environment, the "be all to all" attitude and the inherent politics in education. Why blame the teachers solely for the lack of performance? Don't parents need to take some of the blame for these problems? Unlike ages past, teachers now get to be nurses, social workers, counselors, behavior specialist and moral instructors to children. They get pressure and blame from parents and administrators. Their salaries are not up to standards and they often purchase supplies with their own money and spend evenings and weekends working without pay. I wonder what quality of teachers we could get if we did hiring like the NFL? The best get picked first and get paid the most. If you can't cut the mustard, you don't get selected. The prospective football players have a great deal of motivation to be the best. . . money, lots of it, fame, recognition and glory. It is just a sad commentary that we pay entertainers, atheletes and actors large sums, while teachers and other public servants can barely make a living. I don't think it is as simple as placing the blame on the teacher's shoulders. A good teacher can excel under poor conditions. But what blame do we place on absent fathers, addicted parents, parents who prop their infants and toddlers in front of the TV so their children won't bother them? How many children come to school and have never been read to at home? There is plenty of blame to go around, but don't single out the teachers. They are doing a job most of us can't or won't do.

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