Thursday, February 2, 2012

YOU Educators!

"...have no right to my money."

"Should shut up and take your medicine."

"I'm paying you, I can say what I want."

"Quit whining!", yeah.  I am a Catholic school teacher.  You can't say/type this to me and actually have ANY justification, no matter how remote they might be for my public school colleagues. YOU DON'T PAY MY SALARY!

Wisconsin, teachers have become the enemy.  This politically divided state, has vilified teachers.  We are all classified as lazy and money grubbing.  Self-centered and unqualified.  It has caused a rift in society. And, in truth, I am not sure we will heal.  There is so much venom being spit on BOTH sides of this debate, it is bound to leave scars.

I fear for the future of our children.  Education is key for the future.  Considering we are the first generation that will have less than our parents and we are raising the first generation that will have shorter life spans than the generation before, I am saddened.  Truly.  Education is the key to reversing  that.  Be it through public education or otherwise.  But that may not happen.  At least, not easily.

Teachers are under a microscope and under attack.  I love my job.  I love teaching.  As a Catholic school teacher, I am SO not in it for the money.  Anyone who thinks I am is either a fool or an idiot.  Those who go after my public school counterparts, go ahead and walk a week in their shoes.  And ONLY after that will I hear you out regarding "those teachers".

No paper for copies, but not enough books for every student.  Class sizes over 40, with hungry, angry, lonely, abused kids.  2 computer labs for 1500 kids and we wonder why they don't have the skills employers are looking for.  Breaking up fight after fight after fight after fight.  I have had fights break out, between family members - during parent teacher conferences.  My shoulder has been dislocated...and my jaw.  I have been thrown down stairs breaking up fights in their stairwell, only to have it all go dark for a moment.  Class loads nearing 200 each semester - try grading all those papers after you have put your kids nicely to bed.  Class supply budget = what sales can I find at Wal-mart or Hobby Lobby.  Think I am exaggerating?  

Please understand.  Under federal law, every child is GUARANTEED a FREE (at no cost to the parent) and APPROPRIATE (meeting every child's specific and individual learning needs).  That is not always an easy task.  Some kids are visual, while others are auditory.  Some kids cannot sit still in their own skin, much less through a continuous lecture.  Some kids are terrified to speak - to anyone.  Others are bursting at the seams to be heard. Some have been abused or neglected and just need to know that ANYONE cares if they live or die.  Others have parents that are SO involved that they are terrified that any misstep will be a disappointment.  Some kids are hungry, some are sick.  Some kids are surpassing any expectations that were assigned to them at birth, while others have everything going for them and yet, still not succeeding.  Some are religious, some searching for God, some have no idea about religion.  Some kids are so proud of what they have done and enjoy the fact that did a great job.  While others have grown up already knowing that they can't do anything right, so they refuse to try. Some kids are already parents and some are parenting the younger children at home.  Some have beautiful homes, and yet others are in shelters or bouncing from couch to couch.  Some are on a couch because mom had enough and kicked them out.

And they are all in one class.

And there is a teacher at the front of that classroom trying to reach each and every one of them, in whatever way possible.  That teacher is a parent, a nurse, a social worker, a tech support person, a therapist, a negotiator, a crisis manager.  They often make sure there is enough food in the home and clothes for the kids. I have personally taken kids shopping for supplies and clothes when they needed them. And I know many more that have gone far above and beyond that and have their place in heaven assured.  But remember, it is all while they are teaching.  And teaching means so much more than you could ever know.

It is Catholic Schools Week.  I smiled as I added the keychain that the Lower Campus sent home with my kids.  That same night, I found my "I Support PUBLIC Education" bumper sticker from my previous life, in a box I finally took out of my trunk.  I was saddened.  My guilt came rushing back.  I left my kids in this war zone.  There are teachers fighting to give them the best education.  There really are.  But more and more are just tired.  Tired of the politics.  Tired of being under a microscope.  Tired of making something out of nothing...remind me to tell you about my ghetto smart board and document camera.  Just tired.  I am afraid we will lose some of these awesome teachers because they are just tired.  And the pay, my friends, is not THAT good, no matter what the hype may say.

So, before you attack, on either side, remember.  Those are real people.  We have become so detached with the advancement of the Web.  We have lost sight of the fact that on the other side of this discussion, there are indeed REAL PEOPLE.  With hopes and fears, with dreams and goals.  Some are in it for the money.  Some are horrible teachers.  Some are horrible people.  But, the vast majority of us are just trying to make a difference, even if it is just that one kid.

So instead of me having to choose between public schools or Catholic schools, let me say this...

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