Memorializing Teachers Every Day

Why this particular blog caught my attention today, Memorial Day, I have no idea. The thing is, it deals with how Americans’ treatment of teachers–with a whole week of appreciation–is viewed by people of other countries and continents.

Read on.

Teacher Appreciation Week 2012 – Computer Science Teacher – Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson – Site Home – MSDN Blogs.

“Teachers’ summers off …” – from The Washington Post

Let us dispel the myth that teachers have the summer “off.” It seems things haven’t changed much since I left K-12 teaching more than a decade ago. And, according to this article, teacher summers are the same in other parts of the world, as well.

First, put to rest the “fact” that teachers get paid for the summer. Teachers may arrange to be paid through the summer by requesting their 9-month salary be distributed over 12 months. Thus, they do not get paid for the summer. Big difference.

Second, because teacher pay is so low and the daily time expenditure during the school year huge, many teachers must seek additional employment during the summer months to make ends meet, to pay for student loans, to pay for graduate and professional development courses, etc. Those teachers who can afford it attend university for graduate and post-baccalaureate education courses to fulfill state credentialing requirements, which are ongoing.

But you probably already know all this. Read on.

Teachers’ summers off squeezed by second jobs, training – The Washington Post.

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Repost: Rethink Teacher Appreciation Week | Blog

“True appreciation means understanding what teachers bring to the table and creating meaningful opportunities for them to contribute to the policies and practices that affect their school communities.”

via Rethink Teacher Appreciation Week | Blog.

Reading this US DoE blog made me think back to the Stone Age, to my own K-12 education. Back then, there was a great deal more respect for teachers, and I think more involvement of teachers in whatever school they were in. If a teacher sent a disciplinary note home–and they were usually disciplinary–parents supported the punishment and brandished home-based discipline as well. Parents seemed aware of how little teachers made for their level of education, and actively supported teachers’ efforts to educate their children. Today, too many parents seem as antagonistic toward teachers as their children. Instead of assuming the teacher has accurately described the problem, it is assumed that the child’s view is correct and the teacher is out to get the child.

Only a decade after I was in school did some laws change. In the mid-1970s when I was looking for my first teaching position, principals still were allowed to ask if a female applicant’s marital status. A married female could get pregnant and leave teaching at any time, and there would go the money the district invested in training her. For years after marital status became a legal no-no question, male principals continued to ask it and base hiring decisions on the response.

As then, a teacher today is still more likely to be hired if he or she can coach a sport or advise a major student group, such as yearbook or drama club. Knowledge and teaching ability are secondary considerations. Schools claim that this is a way to maximize the value of their teachers, but the truth is that there is no reason why part-time coaches could not be hired. Sports, arts, and other extra-curricular activities are very important, but there may be a reason why so many students hate social studies and why US academic performance is lagging behind that of other modern nations.

Back then, classroom teachers had no say in the curriculum or educational policy, even within their own schools. Teachers’ unions like the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) tended to concentrate on “labor relations” issues, like pay, break time, and how far into a pregnancy a female teacher could work. General policy and curriculum issues were reserved for the school district administration and the school board. Today, the US DoE is encouraging active contribution by teachers and teacher associations to the discussion on educational reform. But it has taken an uncertain economy and diminishing education funds to bring this about.