July 18, 2014
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you want me as your child’s teacher. I do what is in the best interest of the students, even if it is not what is in my best interest. Small example, today’s students work better in small groups than individually. Subsequently, my classroom is set up with tables and chairs instead of traditional student desks. Students working in small groups drives me up a wall. However, it is not about me, it is about doing what is best for my students. And I do a great many small things that would ordinarily bother me, but it is what is best for my students, your children. Today, I was reminded of one of the great things that I sacrifice for the good of my students: my salary.
Because my salary is a matter of public record, and without an exaggeration, I will tell you that my it runs somewhere between $33,000 to $35,000 pr year. I have an advanced degree with a double major, my student loans totaled over $43,00, and I have been a certified teacher for 14, almost 15 years now. I think I have eared the right to earn just as much as any other professional with my educational qualifications. However, most of you Mr. and Mrs. Average Citizens do not seem to agree.
Last night was our school district’s Welcome Back to School Night for both parents and students. I found myself in the middle of a conversation between two parents about what educators should earn once they become teachers. I politely declined to give my opinion.
However, it is a subject that comes up every few years or so. In fact, even now, my school district is proposing to its citizens an increase in its primary property tax levy. This would increase property taxes on a $100,000 home from $2,370.00 to $2,639.20. And that was the topic of discussion I came upon last night.
Although I have addressed this subject before in my August 1st, 2013 blog post entitled “A Class Divided“, the conversation is almost always the same thing.
“Another tax raise? We just voted to give teachers a raise. But, I see in the news that our school’s are failing our children. What about that? Why should teachers get more money if our kids can’t even read and write at grade level? Shouldn’t a raise be based on your job performance? If teachers are doing their jobs, shouldn’t students be able to pass their reading and writing tests?”
I just smiled and nodded, very non-committal. But that just gave the parents fuel to add to their fire.
“Aren’t the reading and writing scores at this school not very good? A couple of years ago, my oldest son took the [reading and writing test] and he did not pass. But he passed his Language Arts class. How does that happen? Shouldn’t he pass the state test if he passed Language Arts? I don’t understand. I think it’s the teacher’s responsibility to make sure my child learns what he is supposed to pass the test. Do you think teachers should get a raise when kids are failing the state test? I don’t want them t raise my taxes. And I don’t want to pay teachers for not doing their jobs.”
I remained quiet, still smiling and nodding and in time the parents ran out of steam and we got down to the business of introducing ourselves. However, I can and will answer the parents’ concerns right here and right now.
Yes, I should be held accountable for how well I teach your children, my students. The problem is, the state test the students take are not an accurate measure of my job performance. Just because your child does not pass the state test does not indicate I did a poor job of educating him. There are so many factors that go into whether or not your child does well on his test. Did he get a decent night’s sleep? Did he have a well-balanced breakfast? Did he complete all of the homework pertaining to what is on the test? If homework is not turned in, if classwork is not completed, your child has not done his job as a student.
I, however, have done my job. I have completed the lessons and given the tests that the state requires of me. I do my job and I do it well. I should get a raise based on my job performance and not your child’s test scores. I can think of no other job that ties trainers raises to whether or not the workers they trained can pass a test. No, it is the worker who failed the test that either loses his raise or loses his job.
Being a good teacher does not necessarily translate into high, or even passing test grades. There are so many other contributing factors. What are they, you ask? Well, each child is different. I know only a small part of your child’s abilities, worries and various other personal characteristics. I can assess, observe, and teach your child. However, and this is a very unpopular viewpoint, you as his parent should be able to tell me what the other contributing factors are to your child’s testing abilities.
You are his parent, I am merely his teacher. One of us has more of a responsibility than the other. One of us has the potential to spend more time with the child than the other. One of us has values and morals to teach this child. Me, his teacher, I do the best I can. You, the parent, do you? How about the student, does he do the best he can?
Geez, all of this for a mere $34,000 a year? Peace, ~v.