Recently I read a great article by Ron Clark, a pretty famous guy in the educational world. He’s been honored by Oprah and has a Lifetime movie about him starring Chandler Bing, so….big stuff. His article focuses on what that teachers wish that parents could hear and accept and understand, that would make the world of teaching so much more attractive to stay in for the teachers, and much more beneficial for the students.

The average new teacher burns out after 4.5 years of teaching. The number one reason? No, not tough state standards to meet, disobedient students, terrible administration, or beans for a salary.

The number one reason new, bright, motivated and innovative teachers quit?

Parents.

Personally, I have too much selfish pride to ever let a few nasty parents get me to quit my job. Believe me, since my fourth week of teaching, I’ve had my share of crazies that caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth. If I were to quit my job now, it would be for reasons far more complicated than some wack job parents. But I totally understand the article’s point that parents are making teaching children really more difficult than it needs to be (read here) when there are so many factors that make it difficult already.

I’m not sure why education has been so attacked recently. Particularly, why the people who desperately wish to educate your children have been so attacked by the media. (Fox News….don’t get me started. Oh wait, I am.)

There might be teachers who have stopped really caring about your child due to a variety of personal and job-related reasons. And I get that you pay some taxes or private tuition for your child to receive a good education. But you are also living in a country and voting for leaders and policies that slash educational budgets, and for the bright, innovative minds that could be inspiring in the educational world, the “I’m happy to live on soup as long as I’m changing lives” scenario gets old after a while. Believe me, I’ve tried it. So the reasons that the US keeps slipping behind Japan, China, Sweden, Finland, etc in education are more complicated than a couple ol’ Negative Nancies among your local school’s staff, or the measly paychecks.

Furthermore, you should all be concerned about education, with child or not, because as was so eloquently laid out in an editorial linked here, reports from the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, and the U.S. Department of Education have directly linked qualified teacher shortages to the quality of educational performance and, in turn, to the future well-being of the economy and ultimately to the security of the nation.

This isn’t a problem we can just yell about and hope will go away in the voting booths. After all, what does the general public know about educating your child? About teaching them to read, to write, to reason? Pretty much nothing. But teachers do know. Don’t you want to know our opinions?

I’m a teacher. I’ll tell you what I think.

I think every teacher I’ve ever met originally got into the job for the love of children and the subject they wanted to teach. Sometimes, as in all things and all professions, that can get lost along the way. Help them come back to the fold with proper support and motivation.

I think teachers care and don’t care about money as much as every one else on this planet. But if you want GREAT teachers teaching your kids GREAT things, be willing to vote for pay increases that compete with the kickass jobs I could be getting that allow me to travel, have a company credit card, and maybe my fingers and palms won’t be permanently stained with dry erase marker. With incentives to stay when I could be moving on to bigger and better things.

I think I am tired of raising kids when I should just be educating them. Parents have gotten lazy. There is too much television, video gaming, bribery, after-school activity, vacation, DVDs in cars, iPhones, iPods, and spoilage in our country. I should not have to spend so much of my instruction time teaching your kids how to share, say please, say thank you, how to come to class with a pencil and paper, how to raise their hands, how to wash their hands after the bathroom, how to not interrupt, how to respect adults, how to clean up after themselves. How to wait patiently. How to read directions.

Most importantly, I think I should not have to spend so much time helping them to unlearn that they are the center of any kind of universe. Certainly not mine or the class’s.

Is it all the parents’ fault? No. Government? No. Teachers? No.

We’ve all worked together to fail our youth.

Of course, there are many other factors, like the influx of immigration over the last 75 years or so that makes teaching even more difficult.

How do we fix it?

1. Fund Education.

2. Vote for people who genuinely will fight for education.

3. Raise your kids right. Teach them respect.

4. Read to your kids.

5. Appreciate your teachers. I can’t tell you how far a little note from a parent with an encouraging word will carry me, when all else has fallen away and the rest of the week looks like a total waste, a few lines can save my life.

I certainly haven’t solved any of the world’s problems in this blog. But it’s not for lack of desire. Viva la teacher.

Advertisements