These vicious attacks on teachers need to stop. I taught for 36 years, and I know that teachers work very hard at their jobs. Why does columnist Esther Cepeda think that over half of new teachers leave the profession? As a high school English teacher, I spent every evening planning lessons and grading papers — unpaid time that extended to weekends as well.
There is also the false belief out there that older teachers are no good. I felt this attitude every day at school until I retired at 65. When did being very experienced get to be a bad thing?
Our society is in a state of flux, and some of the changes are not for the better. It is becoming very common to blame societal failings on teachers, and I can tell you from experience, a teacher’s influence is nowhere close to that of a parent.
There is a famous painting of a goat, that according to a Hebrew custom, had all of the sins of the people put on him before he was driven out into the desert to die. Look it up on the Internet. It’s called Scapegoat. Look at the expression of pain and bewilderment in its eyes. That’s how our teachers feel.
I am sure that the Wisconsin teachers who left their classrooms to protest were torn. I know that I would have been. However, there comes a time when every persecuted group has to stand up for itself. Dr. Martin Luther King said in order to effect a change, tension must be created. The Wisconsin teachers are creating tension.
A whipped, angry, defeated, disgraced individual is not going to be an effective role model for students. The Wisconsin teachers are setting an excellent example — use freedom of speech and the right of the people to peaceably assemble to maintain the ability to shape the circumstances of one’s employment. Why is this ability so important?
Stress is highest among occupations where strong demands are put on the employee, but the employee has no ability to control the circumstances of his or her working environment. If changes that are being proposed in Wisconsin, Indiana, and many other states come to pass, the stress level in teaching will be so high that it will be very difficult to convince young people to enter this profession.
Help Wanted: Teacher. Low pay compared to other professions. Eroding benefits. Must have a college degree. You will be in charge of the education of over 100 students. You will teach at least three different classes. You will be constantly criticized and insulted. Unlike other teachers in other cultures, you will get no respect.
Any takers? Esther Cepeda left teaching, by the way.