This post is the conclusion to a topic motivated by the August 2011, Costco Connection‘s debate between two education experts about teacher seniority.
The hours spent in the classroom with students are only the tip of the iceberg. Most teachers are in the classroom with students five or six hours each school day but the total hours worked may average much more.
For me, I averaged between 60 to 100 hours a week (with no overtime pay) for most of the thirty years I taught, which did not leave much time for other activities.
In addition, “Waiting for Superman” insinuated that most public school teachers are not highly educated. This is a ridiculous claim.
For example, when I became a teacher I already had six years of college with a BA in journalism, which included another year of training and classes to earn my teaching credential. Then, over the years, I was required to earn more than 20 quarter units thanks to state legislation increasing teacher requirements in addition to earning a MFA in writing. Then there were endless workshops—some after school for a few hours and some lasting an entire workday.
By the time I retired, I had more than nine years of college and this does not count the seven years I attended writing workshops out of UCLA’s writing extension program. It is easy to claim that most teachers are lifelong learners. Too bad we can’t say that of most students.
When I was teaching journalism in addition to several sections of English [for seven years of the thirty], I often arrived at 6 AM and left at 11:00 PM (that is a seventeen-hour day at school/work) when the night custodians turned on the alarms and locked the gates to the parking lot. The student editors of the high school paper would have stayed longer (along with me) if the alarm had been left off.
In fact, the US was never a pioneer in public education as “Waiting for Superman” claims (find the truth in the March/April 2011 Foreign Policy magazine), and most factors that cause a child/teen to drop out of school has little if nothing to do with teachers. What influences children to drop out of school has more to do with street gangs, poverty, hunger, child abuse, parents [or lack of parenting, which is an epidemic in America today], being a latch key kid, the environment a child grows up in, and the lifestyle his or her parents provide
Sydney Morris, instead of stabbing dedicated teachers in the back by getting rid of the seniority system, why not use that youthful energy to fight for something worthy, such as demanding a public education system more like the one in Finland where teachers are supported and trusted to make the decisions.
Return to Dumping Teachers due to Standardized Test Results and Student Performance – Part 6 or start with Part 1
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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