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Topic: A teacher speaks back!
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
A teacher speaks back!
Posted: Jan 14, 2000 2:08 PM
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Sent with the permisssion of Ms. Judy Sceifres, the writer. Judy teaches at
Grandview Elementary
School in Bellevue, KY. This is in response to the posting yesterday on
"States' Education Improvement get 'C'."

Well, I think we educators in the trenches will assign Miss Virginia
Edwards a "D" for lack of effort in assessing States' Educational
Improvement Efforts with a "blanket C"! How very lazy and underachieving
of her to assess all of us collectively as failing to achieve our goals
when some are bending over backwards to improve. I guess she would punish
the whole class by taking away recess when only half the kids were actually
misbehaving, too!

Would it have killed her to commend the states who were not letting people
slip in the back door? Is it too much work to look for causes for not
achieving 100% compliance to improvement goals? Ah, but then we would have
to look at that nasty chunk of reality called money. "Silk purse/sow's
ear" and all that.

States are not able to live up to their goals of putting only the best
teachers into the classroom because there are not enough superior people to
go around in a field that pays poorly, is criticized from all
angles by the public and private sectors, gets very little respect from
children or adults, gets less than 20 minutes to eat lunch most days, is
under occasional threat of lawsuits or physical retribution from some
parents and students, and requires long hours on top of it all. I am just
now getting to my email at 5:30 p.m. and yes, I am still at school.

I am rarely home before 6 or 7:00 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays. And I
generally leave even then with a sack of schoolwork to do before bedtime.
Weekends are also not free of school planning, meetings, conferences or
educational seminars. I'm a good teacher, the kind you want in the
classroom. I love kids and respect them and their parents. I'm
intelligent and dedicated. I am always on the lookout for better ways to
do my job and improve my skills as an instructor. I serve on committees. I
tutor after school and coach the Academic team. But I am from a different
era than today's college students.

When I graduated from high school in 1966, the "smartest girls" were
encouraged to become teachers, nurses, or legal secretaries because those
were really good jobs "FOR A GIRL". Well, those kinds of limited
expectations are no longer thrust upon young ladies, thank goodness. I LOVE
my job, but in all honesty, I can't recommend it to the best and the
brightest girls in college today. They can be whatever they choose to work
toward. By and large they choose to go where the money and prestige await
them. That is a function of their being bright. They have weighed their
options and teaching comes up light.

Fortunately for our future, some smart girls and boys choose teaching
anyway. The desire to teach burns deeply in a few bright men and women
despite the low wages, long hours and lack of status/respect afforded to
teachers in today's society. But as long as we treat teachers so poorly,
we cannot expect to lure enough of our nation's best and brightest into the
teaching pool so that no classroom need be manned by a mediocre or worse

Sorry, America, but "you get what you pay for" all in all. You are just
lucky that sometimes you get a bargain like me for your money. But if you
want high quality across the board, you'd better put your money where your
mouth is!

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618) 453-4244
Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office)
(618) 457-8903 (home)


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