Seems everywhere I turn, someone is criticizing education in America, and what we are doing wrong. Even Oprah, who values education, devoted an episode to the topic in her last season. Though she made it a point to praise the educators and schools where it is working--the implication is that in most places it is not. And in most cases, it is the educators who are being blamed for the failures. As you know, I am a teacher. So I take this personally. And I take considerable offense.
Several months ago a panel of politicians and students railed away on Meet the Press; students told stories that were patently absurd. Can it really be that a teacher regularly naps for entire class periods? And none of these children get the teacher next door? Or walk down to the office so that an administrator can rouse the sleepy teacher? Did anyone check on the veracity of this story? On the off chance they weren’t tall tales told by struggling students then by all means action should be taken. But what gets me is that any time someone tells a story, it is a variation on this theme: schools in America suck, teachers suck more. In fact, it is the fault of teachers that education sucks. Stories are taken as truth; educators aren’t given the benefit of a doubt because, as one of my colleagues likes to say, the concept of a teacher as a professional is gone. We are micromanaged, we are criticized, and we are blamed.
I challenge anyone who thinks teachers have it easy but get it all wrong to be a teacher. Go back to school, get your masters degree, and be a teacher. I dare you.
And I refer you to this opinion piece from the Hartford Courant, by Thomas Cangelosi, a reitred teacher, to read more.