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Let's stop it with the "NO SUPPORT" thing. Most teachers are independent and competent and to keep rehashing this abstract argument makes it seem other wise. What kind of support are we talkinga about anyway? a pat on the back? someone to share the workload? It isn't about that and for a teacher to say so is self-insulting. It is about the state of society. Parents that either don't care or just go out of their way to be argumentative with teachers/school administration, and national law that PROHIBITS differences and penalizes teachers FOR those differences. It is these obstacles that make teachers, regardless of years of experience/natural born teaching awesomeness, go home and cry and not want to go back. Trying to pull teeth all day and make horses jump across water just plain sucks.
I have worked in a city school district for 13 years. In that time we have had 8 Superintendents.
I have worked at a particular high school within that district for the last 2 years. That school has had 7 principals in 5 years.
PAY IS an ISSUE, but not THE issue!
PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IS THE KEY in unlocking students' secret vaults of learning: their minds!
More money is not going to fix the problem of "BLAME THE TEACHERS!" Faculty meeting:
"Teachers, you need to do more for these kids"
"Teachers your (old approach) isn't working"
"Teachers you cannot write these kids up for everything, you need to be more engaged to prevent boredom"
"Teachers you cannot continue your current...."
AND ON AND ON AND ON!!!
Our district has addressed every possible cause of poor performance, except for PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT!
Parental involvement is a taboo, politically incorrect accusation in this district. If that is true, then they should get off our backs and let the district contiue to tank. Thank goodness the State finally took over. BUT: they have refused to deal with the MAJOR PROBLEM: The LACK of Parental Involvement!!!
Too many tests!
Too few parents that really engage themselves in their child's educational process!
The unwillingness of the district to address this MAJOR problem!
STRESSED? YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT!!!
I teach in an at-risk school for over-age eighth graders. I firmly believe that I earn every dollar I make, plus any extra compensation the district is willing to give me. My job is very demanding because the students can't or won't read. They do not process language and do not have the ability to generalize information. As a result, I teach everything as multisensory instruction with a variety of technology and hands-on activites. The students enjoy all of these things, but they work so slowly and laboriously, we never get through all the content prior to the high-stakes testing. I live in a low wage state, so I appreciate any extra support I can receive.
I teach in the Los Angeles Unified School District. While you like where you teach, I do not think that this should require you to subsidize the educational system of your school district by being underpaid and having to pony up $1000 a month for your own health care- it's a question of societal values. I don't think anybody in our society does more than a good teacher in determining if we are going to make it in the long run as a society. It is significant that our society is not willing to pay fair compensation to you.
It is worth noting that LAUSD, although it pays reasonably well in a very expensive urban market, is unable to keep sufficient teachers beyond 5 years because of the behavior issues of students that it refuses to confront rather than the compensation it pays. It would rather see the turnover- which allows it to replace more expensive teachers with cheaper novices- than invest in doing what is necessary for keeping a profession well compensated and respected teacher corp. My email is email@example.com
I love the kids I teach, and most teachers put up with all of the above because they do truly love teaching and working with kids. However, the stress is really getting to me. I was hospitalized for a week last year and my health is steadily worsening. I do not know if I will be in this school district for much longer. If it were not for additional adjunct duties at a local college, I would not be able to pay my bills.
I see the problem as being more complex than salary and parents' disinvolvement. I also see bickering and fighting among Board Members. I see a District that has been indicted several times by County Grand Juries as being derelict in duties. I saw Board Members elected who do not have a clue about education and who barely have a high school education running districts with high poverty and high multicultural populations. I personally know of one Board Member who worked very hard to get elected and who then focused all available attention on one teacher to get that individual fired. Why? Because the teacher had to send that Board Member's child home several times because the child would come to school with head lice!
I see a District which had two Superintendents on the payroll at the same time because one Sup had to be bought out of his contract. That Supe brought crony-ism into the District and that crony took off with half a million in cash from the District.
I see a District which forces teachers to use programs which do not meet all of the Standards of the State. We used to be given 150 minutes a day to teach a literacy program that the publisher requires a commitment of 180 minutes a day. That was last year. This year we have 120 minutes for the same program, and we are expected to march lock-step to the scripted program. Woe to the teacher who leaves something out because there is not enough time to cover all the material!
The math program (according to the publisher) requires 180 minutes daily including extensive use of manipulatives. We are actually given between 45 to 50 minutes dail;y to cover everything in the lessons.
State law requires 100 minutes per week (20 minutes daily) of PE. Our principal has mandated that we teach Social Studies, Science and PE all during that block of 20 minutes per day.
I see a District which buys programs to be taught in the classrooms which have little relevance to the standards or to the needs of the students. I sometimes think that someone is receiving a kickback somewhere for these purchases. Although our contract says that we have academic freedom in the classroom, we are all expected to be on the same page, on the same day. We cannot have posters on our walls other than what is recommended by the authors of the packaged curriculum.
On top of that, or under it, depending on your point of view, wages are low compared to the wages industry and business pays in this area. Many times the children of teachers go into jobs fresh out of high school and earn almost as much as the parent who is teaching. In my district, a teacher with 20 years of experience will earn about 65,000 per year. A teacher who works at my grade level just saw her son get a job a year out of high school making 50,000 a year. It is disheartening to see how low teacher pay is compared to the prevailing earning rates in an area. By the way, in the county where I work you can buy someone's garage for about 300K. Seriously, median houses costs about 600K and we are not talking about Cupertino or Los Altos Hieghts.
The problem is multifaceted. Raising teachers salaries would certainly make meeting ends easier, but it will not solve the other problems. Yes, raise teacher salaries. Yes, pay bonuses to teachers who work in low performing districts and schools and get programs that are research based and are proven to work. Yes, find a way to get parents involved. Yes, hire district office people who who have a clue. Yes, find a way to get highly qualified Board Members to take the reigns and manage districts properly. Let's make school work for our future breadwinners and taxpayers.
One last thing, and I hope you forgive me for the length of this letter: We are a PI school. Every year we meet all of our mandated goals except for one. Last year we met our API goals but missed the every devastating AYP. We passed 21 out of 22 categories and had better than expected growth. The one category we missed was in the subgroup for Special Education. This has happened three years in a row. Our school is now in danger of being taken over by the state because our special ed students cannot meet the requirements of the NCLB regulations! Can you fathom this? We have about 15 to 20 students in special ed out of a population of 600+. That very small subgroup is endangering the future of the school. I love these kids! They are trying very hard! We are not alone! Many schools which service special ed students are in the same boat. When is this inequity going to be addressed and solved?
Did I effectively show that this is a complex issue?
I agree with another post that kids who are trouble makers, and display bad behavior are tolerated, and given 1000 last chances simply because the school looks at them and see $$$$.
We have such a situation here at our small k - 8 school of a little over 300 kids. There are intolerable kids in the lower and upper grades who either physically harm another child daily, or simply show no respect for authority on a daily basis. There's one 8th grader in particular that my son has been hurt by numerous times, and each time administration simply talks to the kids and sends him back to class. How many last chances are we supposed to give a pain in the neck kid who obviously doesn't want to behave? It all comes down to the Average Daily Attendance money the school collects on kids like this.
I call on all parents who are frustrated with me to demand stricter dicipline with trouble kids, and easier expulsion for them.
Parents if average daily money per student is so important to the schools, and you want a trouble kid out of the school, simply tell them that you're keeping your child out of their school until you get justice. Meanwhile, the school will be losing ada money on your child. Let's see how quickly that gets their attention. The teachers that have to put up with these troublesome kids will probably be happy when they'r gone as well.
Another thing that parents can do to make noise so to speak is simply don't allow your children to participate in their STAR testing. The school is required to give the testing, but your children are not required to participate. This START testing is very important to the school, and just like most other things can mean more $$$ for the school.
I would like the teachers to be able to teach, and not waste so much time on class room distractions who come from bad parenting.
I also agree that parents should be more involved with their children's education, but teachers, remember it is your job to teach our kids, you're paid to do so. Many parents such as myself do our best to help, but are not qualified to teach. I believe that parents should be supportive of the teachers, and teach their children respect.
The lack of support in any school will make good teachers leave. I have watched as my friends have opted out due to the stress, many after 10-20 years. I have seen both sides in my 14 years in southern public schools. Last year I made 38k and new teachers, most without even a teaching certificate began at 35k starting salary. This year I got a raise to 41k. They had to make the starting salary higher to attract teachers since so many had left to go to neighboring counties for instant 3 to 5K raises. So to add insult to injury they hire inexperienced teachers and ignore the seasoned professionals who are dropping like flies. Then the board wonders why they have D's 3 years running in the majority of the high schools in this county.
Then there is the academic and discipline issues inherent in all schools. Most of my career I have worked in urban, low performing schools within the same county. But one year I worked in an A school in a very high socioeconomic area. Regardless of the type of school you work in, if the administration does not support the teachers, cowers to parents and plays favorites (cronyism is alive and well in my current school due to regime change) then morale will be low and teacher turnover extremely high. The A school I worked at, the discipline was applied just as inconsistently as the tough school I currently have been at for 6 years. But in comparison, the A school with bad discipline was still in general a good place to work with much fewer really bad incidents due to parent support. And turnover is not nearly as bad there. Plus the teachers get bonuses every year for the school grade. Whereas the tough D school with little to no classroom or home support gets to have tougher scrutiny from the district, more hoops, more stress and it has become a viscious circle.
Teacher pay is abyssmal no matter where you work in my state. But when your job becomes so stressful it affects your health and welfare than love of teaching is not enough to sustain us. Sadly, I hope that I can move to another state and possibly better pay and support. If that does not happen soon though, this teacher will be changing careers. Dozens of my friends & colleagues have done this and are happier and healthier for it.
But as for the poll question...yes! These teachers work much harder, I know from experience!
I wonder why no one ever says it. The biggest problem in lower socio-economic schools is not the teachers or the pay, it's lack of parent support. If parents were more involved in their child's education, I guarantee they would do better. I teach at a Program Improvement school. I had a class of students that scored proficient or above and another class of students BB or FBB. I asked the students in my higher class how many of their parents were involved in their education and 95% of the class raised their hand. And of course, in the other class only five students raised their hands. Why was I not surprised. People want to say that parent involvement does not make a difference. Who are they kidding? My brothers and sisters and I are a product of public education and we all graduated college and some of us have received graduate degrees are in the process because my parents were highly involved in our education. When will people realize this? Why do the whites leave, because they find education important and refuse to have their child in a school where others don't. I am not white, but I understand the idea.
I am a teacher and have a child of my own and if asked if I would send my child to the school I work at, I would give a resounding no!!! I look at this school where parents only show up to pick up a child's cell phone if it was taken away by the teacher. How about asking about your child's grades? It is amazing to me how teachers are expected to work miracles. Some one put it nicely, out of 6000 hours in a year, students are with teachers 1000 hours and the rest at home. Hmmmmm.... yet we are supposed to work these miracles with that ratio. I know as a parent if I want my daughter to do well I am going to have to work with her at home. And yeah, I've heard all the excuses about these parents that have to work. So do I and I am a single mom. So no. And I've also heard the excuses about their economic plight. Well I came from a family of nine and the only income was from my dad. Believe me when I say we were poor. Yet my parents made it a point to push our education. When will Congress wake up and start putting the blame where it belongs. Yes teachers need to step up, but parents are the real problem.
I am a first year grad student working on my Master's in Education. One of the classes I am currently taking is discussing whether raising the salary of teachers who agree to work in poorly performing schools will make a difference. I personally do not think the salary of teachers in this environment will make the desired difference at all. While teachers want to make a reasonable amount of money, they did not select this profession to become rich. They selected it for other reasons, and while raising the salary of teachers willing to work in a hostile environment might pursuade a few teachers to accept a less than desirable position, it will not help to educate those who most need a decent education.
Those at the top, the decision makers, i.e., the board, the administrators and principals are far more responsible for the performance of a school than are the classroom teachers.
Thanks for such cogent venting. I printed your response to this survey, and will be using it to back-up my position in this class.
Amen to Leonard Isenberg's comments! I taught for 9 years in Orlando at a pretty decent middle school so, granted, I can't speak of feeling threatened by students or their parents. But I used to tell friends and family who weren't educators that I'd gladly go without a pay raise for 5 years if the trade off was the guarantee that parents did their part -- ensuring their children came to school and acted respectfully to adults and peers, and that they, the parents, would follow through with supporting teachers as best they could from the home front. The worst kids I ever dealt with had parents who either denied any problems existed (behavioral or academic), blamed others, or didn't follow through with whatever 'team' goals we (parent, child, teacher) made. It's got to be a three-way commitment for success -- like a tricycle. If two of the wheels are missing, that thing isn't going to go very far. Blaming the one working wheel, throwing more money at it, or chastising it because it's not working hard enough doesn't address the fundamental problem that the other two wheels either aren't there or are not doing their part. Money COULD help if it's used in ways that encourage more parent and student involvement -- programs that include them as valued members in the educational process. There are success stories out there but there are surely (unpublished) stories of utter failure as well -- research isn't showing any consistent proof that money is the answer (and that's a whole other dissertation's-worth of commenting...). Ultimately, it's the personal dedication of all three 'wheels' - teacher, parent, and child - that's going to lead to improvement.