posted on Feb, 20 2011 @ 12:34 PM
Greetings to all. I am a brand spanking new member here at ATS. I have been reading your posts for several years and have enjoyed the many viewpoints
that have been posted here. I respect all opinions whether I agree with them or not. This said, I would like to post my own comments on teaching as a
profession since this has come up in this discusion.
I taught in the public school system for 15 years here in an unnamed midwestern state and my wife has 21 years in and is still teaching. I have
also worked in the private sector for several years so I think I can provide some good info and comparisons.
To begin let me say something general about students and teachers. In my experience 95% of the students I taught were great kids trying their
best and were very respectful of the staff from the principals down to the janitors. The same goes for the teachers. Most were hard working people
trying to help students become better people and earning their paychecks just like the rest of us. Although I did encounter a number of teachers who
spent half the day reading the newspaper or worrying about winning their next football/baseball/basketball game. Please feel free to gripe about the
other 5% (teachers and students) because they did make our lives a living he** on a daily basis.
Some comments made by many do concern me. These are:
1. Teacher salary.
2. Work schedule
3. Working conditions
4. Union memberships
Regarding teacher salary: I have read that average teacher salaries reach six figures. In this part of the country I have never seen a teacher pay
scale go above $60,000. And that is only after 27 years experience and TWO (count them, TWO) Master's degrees AT THE TEACHER'S OWN EXPENSE! After
receiving my Master's degree in the mid-1990's I received a $2,500 per year raise. This was after spending $10,000 to earn my Master's degree.
After taxes (Thank you, Uncle Sam), it amounted to a $24.96 take-home pay per week. I remember commenting to my principal that I made more money
mowing my neighbor's lawn than I did from this raise. It took about 8 years at this rate to recoup the money I spent on the degree. Let me add that
in most states a Master's degree is REQUIRED in order to keep one's teaching certificate. I am not complaining. I knew what I was getting into. I
am just pointing this out.
Regarding work schedule: Teachers are under a contractual agreement to teach a certain number of days per year. In my state it is 186. The three
months off during the summer is a myth of yesterday. This doesn't count the work put in after school, at home on weekends, at night, and over
breaks. Remember, teachers do not draw overtime. Again, this is a good schedule, but it is not the stroll in the park that some think. Remember,
until one earns a Master's degree, school breaks are spent in class. I am from the old school before online courses helpe some. We drove to the
neares Universitiy, about 120 miles round trip two nights per week during the school year and four days per week during the summer. You guys and gals
who take online classes, be thankful!
Regarding working conditions: In my years of teaching, my wife and I have taught in schools that rivaled the grandest shopping malls in their
extravagance. We have also taught in schools that were one strong wind away from collapse. Examples:
1. My wife taught in a classroom that was a former coal bin and had no windows.
2. I once taught in a school with no heat and cracks in my classroom wall so big you could see sunshine
coming through them. During one harsh cold snap I would find frost on my computer screens.
3. I once taught in a school where the upstairs bathroom leaked down into the school kitchen which was
positioned underneath. I won't go into detail, but you can use your imagination. I packed my lunch every day
that I was there.
In the years that I have spent teaching, I have been and seen fellow teachers get hit, spit upon, bitten, kicked, cursed, and threatened by the
previously mentioned 5% of students. Additionally, there have been cars vandalized, homes vandalized, and other property damage. Lives and careers
are often ruined because of false accusations of physical and sexual abuse. Let me make this perfectly clear: Any adult, teacher or otherwise, who
abuses a child needs to be put in a cage full of pitbulls with a steak tied to their genitals. Enough said? But in some cases it doesn't matter
what the truth is, school administrators will throw the teacher under the bus in order to save face in the public's eye.
Regarding union membership: This is the straight, Honest-to-God truth: Most teachers do not join the teacher unions if given a choice. In some
states they are required to join, whether they want to or not. The reason many join, for the most part, is for the inexpensive liability insurance
and legal representation that the unions can provide. Most don't even attend the union meetings or participate in any of their activities.
I hope this helps you understand some of the controversial issues surrounding teaching. I think I speak for the vast majority of teachers when I say
that we want nothing but good for our students. We want them to succeed in life, find good employment, and to lead happy lives. For those of you
that have had bad experiences as a student or teacher, we understand what you are going through and hope that it doesn't cause a bad reflection on
those of us who are doing our best to teach and to learn. I would like to thank ATS for allowing me to voice my opinion. Once again, glad to be a
new member. I enjoy all of your articles. Good day to all.