Public Education in some ways is in the emergency room. It’s in need of a large dose of competence, compassion and commitment. Critics say it has moved around the American landscape like a piece of furniture blowing in the wind. There have been many prescriptions ordered but only a few of them have been filled.
What are some of the reasons for this unstable existence?
First, there is some perspective that is needed. When I was going to school I had great respect for my teachers. They imparted knowledge to me in a way that was both, firm and fun. Those of us in the 4th quarter of our lives were excited to go to school each day. The attitude about school and about our teachers were given to us by our parents.
We never heard them talk negatively about our teachers. As important, was the fact that our parents believed that education led to getting better opportunities. Teachers in our community, in Winston-Salem N.C., were held in high regard. They were pillars in our community and we always wanted to please them. Teachers carried themselves in a certain way, dressed in a certain way, and therefore earned the respect they were given.
Teachers back in the day wanted to be teachers. It wasn’t their 2nd or 3rd choice. It was their 1st choice! They went to college, and with great intention, trained them to become teachers. They had been around enough role models that they could emulate and gain good teaching habits.
I became a teacher, and like those before me, I put in the time to prepare. My high school, Atkins High School, had great teachers. The men and women there showed us what it meant to be a teacher. I often think about Mr. Earl, Mrs. Scales and Coach Green, and the influence they had on my life and the lives of others.
If you went to Atkins High School, Carver High School, Paisley High School and Anderson High School, you have similar stories. The teachers in those schools charted a pathway of success for us, and we simply followed the blueprint. They gave us “book learning” but they also taught us how to become good people.
They talked with us about goals and how to achieve them. Those “back in the day” teachers gave us hope and encouragement each day.
Our parents always sided with our teachers. Why? Because they trusted them and saw the positive results they were making in our lives. Parents and teachers had the same goal and that was to make us successful.
Reports indicate in 2017, there were 3.2 million teachers. They share many of the same attributes that our teachers had. Our children and grandchildren are benefitting from their instruction and guidance. Yet, there are too many teachers who carry the title, however they don’t want it. They became teachers for the wrong reasons, such as student loan forgiveness and not being able to find another job. As a result, it shows in their performance. Our young people are languishing in classes where teachers don’t want to be. Things like discipline and instruction don’t matter.
Nomadic teachers come to school thinking about something else and wanting to be somewhere else. Little learning and a lack of caring take place on a regular basis. Interactions with parents are never good because the blame game is always in play. Teachers blame parents and parents blame teachers. In the meantime, children are suffering educationally.
Recently, a video was taken at a New Orleans charter school showing a teacher putting her foot on a student’s backside in order to wake them. I was speechless and dismayed. Reports say this has happened before with the same teacher.
Has anything been done to reprimand this teacher?
That’s a good question. Give our students great teachers because they deserve them.