When and why has teacher bashing become such a huge topic on television and in the print media?
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Blaming teachers is easy, and given the current budgetary problems many states face, politically expedient. Education has many problems, one of which is that many teachers aren't very good at their jobs. But many, in fact most that I know, are. But blaming teachers for complex problems allows us to ignore some of the fundamental problems confronting education in this country. Ironically, the charter school movement, (full disclosure, I was a part of it for awhile) feeds into this narrative despite their best intentions.
I have noticed more teacher-bashing lately, since the economy died. I am tired of hearing that teachers work six hour days, get three months off in the summer, and have great pay and benefits while a union protects their job. None of that is true! Teachers work countless hours on salary, not getting paid for most of them. Even if we are not teaching in the summer, we are definitely working! We plan, attend meetings and conferences, read, and go through staff development. When we went through the first phase of RIF (layoffs) in 2008, it became clear that tenure means nothing.
It's easier for parents to the blame the teachers for all of their children's problems than it is to admit that they have somehow failed as parents. The average teacher still works countless overtime hours for among the worst pay a college graduate receives, yet the teacher is still the first one to blame for the educational pitfalls that now confront our schools.
I don't know if we can pin it down to a particular event, but I personally believe it began the first time a parent sued a school district and won. From that point on, it seems that teachers are no longer respected or appreciated. Money plays a big part too. People outside of education believe that teachers work 8 months out of the year, get out of work early, get summers off, and make tons of money. Nationally, I do not believe teacher are well-paid. Those districts that are lucky enough to be paid commensurate with the effort and work they invest are fortunate indeed. Teaching is no longer about content. It's teaching to the test; it's arguing with students about why they have to listen to you; it's comforting students whose peers have been emotionally abusive; it's advocating for students who believe they are being lost in the system; it's trying to get parents to care about their child's education through emails, letters, phone calls and meetings. It's tutoring after school. It's going the extra mile with students that need someone to talk to...and you do it willingly on prep. time and during lunch periods when you ought to be grading papers or making copies, or phone calls home to parents. It's trying to hold onto your dignity while receiving verbal abuse and disrespect from parents and their children. It's working your hardest when your administration does not support you, and listening to complaints about teachers because of the bad ones that get in and never leave.
And it's finding the energy to still get out of bed when it's dark to prepare to teach and mold a generation of kids who need to not only survive, but have families and shape the world of tomorrow.
It's happened as the school board lies to the media; as they put students that learn on different levels into one classroom because it saves money—and school board members want to be re-elected. It happens when teachers act unprofessionally or carry on illegal and/or immoral behavior where kids are concerned, giving all teachers a bad name.
When education became something to be questioned, and education became a right rather than a privilege, the tide turned against teachers. Though teachers are most often treated as if they are at the bottom of the educational food chain, the teacher is the one who sees a student on a more regular basis than many parent(s), and may be the only person in a day who shows concern for that child. It has also come as parents and students refuse to assume responsibility for their actions and look for someone to blame. It's easy to blame the teacher with five classes of 30+ students in each one; but it's done without any knowledge of what it takes to teach the student and care about him/her at the same time. Because for good teachers, it's not a job (as the media, school boards and public would have everyone believe); it's a calling. And trying to work to unrealistic expectations often interferes with a teaher's family life, time spent with his/her own children and his/her health. If every parent spent one or two days shadowing a teacher in a school year, I really believe that a lot of the mythology would disappear.
When it stopped being about kids and their learning, that is when everything went wrong. I don't know if it can be fixed.
Teacher-bashing is very unfortunate. I suspect that almost all of us can think of specific teachers who have made huge positive differences in our lives. Unfortunately, many good teachers are having their reputations damaged by the teachers who are indeed unqualified but who are difficult to let go. Here's the sort of thing I have in mind:
Part of the negative media exposure is not aimed at "teacher bashing" but at administration and policy bashing. While there may be a falling off in teacher qualifications because of the reduced standards in state/local colleges at some levels, there remains a consistent difficulty in administering for quality uniformity and administering policies American schools hadn't previously been established to accommodate. Quality uniformity won't be attained until American schools incorporate international practice of having second and third scoring marks by (1) other teachers in the same institution and (2) by teachers in other institutions.
I can't pinpoint a reason, but I see a correlation between government interference in education, namely No Child Left Behind, and teacher bashing. When political people get involved in creating the standards for educational success and create a system like NCLB where it is nearly impossible for a school to meet those every increasing goals given all of the myriad of factors that face schools and students, then teachers become the easy target for what looks like national failure to educate. When teachers point out the flaws in NCLB and other things like it we are accused to trying to make excuses and failing the students. Teachers know the truth, but too people outside out profession think they have all of the answers.
It only makes sense that we should get bashed. After all, our jobs look like anyone can do them. No one really looks at a teacher and says "I could never do that." When you add that to the fact that the country is having a hard time and our educational system seems to be going poorly, it makes even more sense. The system is in trouble and we're the obvious targets.
Before I left my career in corporate marketing, I used to wonder why the newspapers and media blamed the teachers for the fact that the state government did not contribute to the pension fund. Now that I am a teacher, I still wonder the same thing. But the answer is easy, teachers are an easy target - easy to blame for the poor performance of students - not the lack of reading or studying or societal or economic issues. It's unfortunate that people seem to forget that teachers play a pivotal role in society and if a teacher receives a certain salary and benefits, she did not steal it, but rather it is part of a negotiated contract. It is definitely a tough time to be a teacher, but beyond all the headlines, we have to remember we are making a difference.
Its not only in US and the west but throughout the world that teachers are bashed for occurrence few odd incidents which lend the teachers to react and defend their position. There are many causes, some mentioned in the previous posts wherein teachers have justified their position being a part of the teaching community and what they say is largely right. However there are other factors to consider as well. Some of these are given below:
- The media has become hyperactive due to competition to attract the audience which in turn impacts their earnings through advertisements. It is being done without considering its impact on the society.
- The life has become so hard that most of the parents have no time to groom their children. This results in misbehaviour by students and subsequent incidents. Even in conservative societies in the east, this factor is becoming dominant.
- The attention to the children has also reduced due to loosening of family bonds. Commitment to the family has reduced phenomenally. The divorce rate is on the increase the world over. This also results in the upbringing of the children.
- The religion has become secondary, if not altogather irrelevant. Respect for teachers and elders and kindness to the younger is fundamental in all religions. These values are diminishing and are also contributing to the present situation.
These are all global social problem and need to be addressed by all.
I think I starting seeing more teacher-bashing as more and more emphasis started to be placed on standardized test scores, especially when NCLB came into the picture. Parents, as well as school districts, have to have escape goats and, well, we are it. I think as fewer states are responsible for NCLB scores and legislators begin to realize that you can't legislate better test scores, common sense will take over and we'll be able to do what's best for the children. Pray for that day!
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