Last week, I was asked a question: “Didn’t you know what you were getting into, when you decided to become a teacher?”.
This week, I was told this statement: “You knew what you were getting into when you chose to be a teacher”.
The question and statement were comments on two separate links that I posted on Facebook. The posted links related to current education events, and the comments quickly shifted to teacher pay. I believe that the question was genuine, and I will address it later in this post. The statement was a genuine attack on the teaching profession.
The person that made this statement is someone that I have known for 15 years. He is the father of a friend. He was using public records (about administrative pay) and taking it out of the context of the discussion. He would not consider the data that I provided, and the context that I provided as a classroom teacher. Eventually, I was told that my generation expects to start making tons of money at the beginning of our careers, because we have never had jobs involving physical labor to provide for our families. I don’t believe that the appreciation of wages comes from physical labor. I believe that it comes from being taught gratitude and contentment.
The discussion got heated when an educator friend of mine, who commented on the thread, was called an “educator”. The man then spewed nonsense about low district scores being the fault of teachers. He told me that I had no interest in conversing with someone of a differing opinion. I ended the conversation, not because I can’t handle a differing opinion, but because I was not going to let the false narrative of public school failure be spewed on my personal page, without factual data to prove his argument. I won’t allow myself or my colleagues to be attacked. My Facebook, my rules…sorry if you don’t like it. Just for the record, dissenting opinions are always welcome on this blog…just keep it classy.
After encountering this person’s ignorance, it made me ask myself the question: “Did I know what I was getting into, when I decided to become a teacher?”.
So here are some of my answers…
Yes, I knew that my salary would be low when compared to my peers.
No, I didn’t understand that the family insurance plan would be a joke.
Yes, I knew that I would have to prove my worth.
No, I didn’t understand that so many media outlets wanted to tell the public that I was worthless.
Yes, I understood that the perception of my generation was lazy and unthankful.
No, I didn’t realize that this perception would be cast upon us by many people that raised us.
Yes, I knew that I would I have to pay for classroom essentials out of my own pocket.
No, I didn’t understand that my state would decrease the funding for my students more than any other state.
Yes, I knew that I would have parents that would agree & disagree with my teaching philosophy.
No, I didn’t fully understand how often I would be the primary parental figure in a student’s life.
Yes, I knew that there was going to be a dentist elected State Superintendent.
No, I didn’t realize that she would be a constant adversary to the teaching profession.
No, I didn’t realize that she would claim that my teachers had lost a generation of students.
Yes, I realized that some of our state’s elected officials were immature.
No, I didn’t realize that our governor would have a pissing contest with our legislators.
Yes, I realized that people who had never been a career educator would think that my job is easy.
No, I didn’t realize that I’d be called greedy when wanting higher wages.
Yes, I knew that some elected officials do not fight for public education, but against.
No, I didn’t realize that one of our biggest adversaries would be our United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.
Yes, I realized that I would be evaluated with great scrutiny.
No, I didn’t realize that I would be evaluated in a dangerous way, which views students and teachers as numbers.
Yes, I knew that I would meet amazing people.
No, I didn’t realize that I would meeting my amazing wife.
Yes, I knew that some people wanted to radically “reform” the teaching profession.
No, I didn’t know that Teach for America would steal jobs from career educators, and cycle TFA teachers like a Temp. agency.
Yes, I understood that I would make a generational difference.
No, I didn’t understand that rhetoric would be used to make me appear to be lazy and selfish.
Yes, I understood that it would be hard.
Yes, I knew I that I would love it.
Yes, I would do it again. But, just because I am in love with my career, doesn’t mean that I have to relinquish my advocacy card.
After looking at this list, maybe I was the one that was really ignorant. Or maybe, I was a 20 year old college student wanting to make a positive impact on the students, and on the profession.
So, I ask my fellow educators: Did you know what you were getting into?