Teacher Haters (And The Teacher Who Hates Them)

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Student Testing

Teachers should get merit pay. Test scores show how well they do their jobs.
If I get paid based on how a kid does on a test, is it acceptable that I will refuse to teach children with disabilities, English-language learners or who have problems at home that affect their attendance and concentration? Why should I have to take a pay cut to help these kids who need extra attention? I don’t want my salary to be influenced by those factors, so I just won’t work with those kids. Except for one problem, that’s illegal. By law, all public schools (not private) must accommodate students with special needs. So what happens to the pay of those of us who teach students who struggle? The other issue is that multiple-choice tests are not valid measures of student learning. I teach English. Multiple-choice tests only assess a small portion of knowledge. They leave no room for interpretation, explanation or critical thought, skills that I try to help students develop in my class. There are far better means of assessment; however, none of those are currently feasible as a statewide test.

Teachers should stop complaining about pay. They knew how much they were going to make when they decided to be teachers. Anyway, they shouldn’t be teaching for the money.
That’s true. I knew how much I was going to make as a teacher. The pay rate for my district is public knowledge and is posted online. Interestingly, in my district we haven’t had a COLA increase (Cost of Living Allowance) in several years. So as my responsibilities have increased, as my experience has gotten richer, my pay has stayed the same. But hey, when an employee at a company who was hired at an introductory wage has their annual review, they shouldn’t be able to ask for a raise either, you know, because they knew what pay rate they were hired at and shouldn’t expect a wage increase. Right! And because I chose a job educating kids and keeping them safe, I should just expect to be paid in hugs and thank you cards. And let’s not forget that teachers, on average, spend several hundreds of dollars a year in supplies, books and décor for their students now that budgets no longer supply them with pens, paper and, sometimes, books that are less than a decade old. Everything in my room from the printer I use for handouts to the books in my student library was supplied by one person…me. And none of it was free, or a tax write-off.

When I was a kid, all my teachers sucked. They didn’t prepare me for the future.
The most asinine of all Teacher Hater mantras. In the twelve years of being a student, not one teacher was worth their salt? Really? Can you read? Write? Add and subtract? Are you able to form a complete sentence? Correct people’s typos on Facebook? Read and understand a lease? Is there a chance that as a kid you, perhaps, refused to do work, shirked your assignments, or flat out didn’t pay attention? The most annoying thing about being a teacher is that the results of our labors aren’t a definable product. Some students are mature enough to see what they have learned, some don’t get it until after they have graduated and some never understand that teachers did, in fact, teach them. Even teachers who I didn’t like taught me, even if what they taught me was how to deal with people I didn’t like. Education isn’t all about the teacher, it’s about the students participating in their education. Something like that horse that gets led to water, some kids just act like they aren’t thirsty.

Teachers shouldn’t have tenure, every other job they would get fired. Because of tenure, most teachers are just lazy because they are guaranteed a job.
Here’s the thing about tenure, without it, this job would have a lot less appeal. As a teacher, I have to accept that I will never make more than a certain amount, it’s just not possible based on the pay scale. Also, having to make calls like who is failing a class can get really sticky if a principal or board member can threaten a teacher’s job for having integrity. The tradeoff is tenure. After proving competence for three years, which will prove to be the most stressful, consuming three years of a teacher’s professional life – a teacher is guaranteed protection from termination for things that, in the recent past, teachers were fired for. Such as refusing to pass a student who had parents who complained, insisting on fair treatment from administration and other morality issues like getting divorced or being outed as homosexual. Tenure is a process that insures that a teacher who has put in the time to the profession is given every possible support to improve and do their best without fear that they can be fired if the principal doesn’t like them. We don’t have an HR department, we have tenure.

I could go on and talk about other things I have been told. How the man who tried to pick me up at a bar told me he taught golf to rich women three days a week and that teaching is easy. About the relative who said my union is the reason we are in a recession and we shouldn’t really get paid that much because the kids in my district will end up on welfare anyway. How every year I have to seriously think about whether or not I should quit doing something I am passionate about and think is important so I can do a job that will make more money for less effort and stress.

But instead, I’m going to read through the yearbook I bought, sitting in the classroom I paid to decorate out of my own pocket, surrounded by the supplies that I bought by myself for my students to use in class and read the messages about how great my class is and how much they will miss me. And the next time a Teacher Hater wants to step to me with their hate speech, I’ll have my responses ready and remind them that if they think education needs fixing, they need to get their butts into a classroom and help out themselves.