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Teacher’s Tears

Updated: Feb 7, 2020

My mother is a teacher, as well as many of my relatives. And I’ve watched as they’ve struggled to make ends meat, deal with unruly students, and try to make education fun. Unfortunately, it seems that teachers are often forgotten about, as well as the importance of education. According to The Wallstreet Journal, teachers and others involved with the education system are leaving their jobs at a rate of 83 per 10,000: this is the highest rate since studies began. Our teachers are fed up with the system. And still, many of the teachers I know are struggling to make it work for their students, in a system that no longer works for them.

When I asked some of the teachers I know about their opinions on education and the way teachers are treated, I received similar answers from nearly all of them.

“There is little value in teachers now. But they hold all the value. They cultivate our children but we devalue them because primary education has become devalued.” -Phil  

Unfortunately, this does seem to be the case, as teachers in Columbus, Ohio prepare to strike in the fall of 2019. The teachers union asked for: reduced class size, adequate staffing, reducing turnover by compensating educators as professionals, etc. These should all be implemented regardless, in this author’s opinion, in order to keep our schools and children in a good space for learning. Every day, more students drop out or fail to pursue higher education, and every day more teachers find themselves unable to continue the good fight against the failing education system that governs their lives.

There have been other states where strikes and walkouts have made the news, such as: Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, West Virginia and Colorado. These states cited similar problems, as well as stagnant pay, and underfunded classrooms.

“(I’m) unhappy with (teaching) when I have to be mom and dad and counselor and doctor etc. I don’t get paid enough to do all those people’s jobs as well…” -Erika

In 2017, the average teacher’s starting salary was $39,249 and the average student loan debt was about $35,000. How are these teachers expected to make ends meet when they provide their students with supplies such as books, journals, chalk, markers, etc. - as well as their own classroom needs? Many people I know laugh when asked if they’d be a teacher. “You couldn’t pay me enough!” They say. And isn’t that the truth?

Another issue with teachers is that it’s no longer fun for teachers to teach and for students to learn. The rigors lessons of the classroom and the core standards have become more about testing and memorization than the joys of learning. Students have to pass all their tests at 70% at least, when some of these students, particularly lower level students, are not on the same reading level as their economically stable peers.

“When I started teaching 31 years ago, parents were supportive, testing was minimal, and we came up with creative and fun ways to teach the content. Students had fun learning, teachers had fun teaching, and the students were still able to perform well on the national tests. Now, there are more standards to teach at far higher levels. Students at a below grade level, are still expected to perform at the high rigorous standards required by common core and state boards. As a result, students assume they are failures, and teachers are disillusioned with their inability to get the students where they need to be.” - Betty

I myself, as a child with ADHD, struggled in school. Luckily I had teachers that worked with me and took time out of their day to help me get back on track. I never felt like a failure because of the amazing teachers that inspired me and pushed me every single day. My teachers were wonderful men and women who let me be my creative, free-spirited self. They did not try to stifle me or stuff me into a box that did not fit. I am happy to have been born before the standards that set our education system today were implemented.

As a parting note, I will leave you with a quote from one teacher who chooses to remain anonymous:

“It sucks. The parents are mean. Everyone is always mad at me. Oh- and I’m poor.”

Respect the teachers, respect the education!

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