A few years back, there were several articles that were published in the United Kingdom stating that education in that country could be in trouble because there are fewer and fewer young adults interested in entering the teaching profession.
Here in the United States of America, that’s not necessarily a problem…yet. But if things keep going the way there are, that problem may soon be another issue that our nation’s educational system needs to face. However…look at the public school teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and other states that are protesting their wages and retirement plans. State governments need to cut budgets, and one of the first places they look to is education.
An article on this site includes an open letter from a new teacher to administrators (http://www.edu-cat-ion.com/edu-cat-ion/spring/). It made the bold request of administrators to remember what their first teaching assignments were like, and what it felt like to be a new teacher. Upon further consideration, and, with all due respect, current administrators didn’t face what today’s teachers are dealing with, simply because each successive generation deals with new challenges because the environment in which they exist has changed from “the way it was.” Indeed, with the advancement of technology, the environment today can change daily, if not hourly.
But let’s look at the teacher today. Years ago, students may not have “liked” the teacher, because they were difficult taskmasters. Yet, teachers were a support to one another. Long-time educators progressed into leadership roles, and parents weren’t as mobile as they are today, which meant that a child may have the same teacher as their parent or parents had when they were growing up.
Now, it’s different. New teachers feel like they’ve been thrown to the wolves. Many schools districts hire young teachers, who may experience difficulties in judgment because their students are close in age to them, and children “grow up” faster today (for a number of reasons) than they did before the advent of television and new technology tools. Teachers may be at odds with parents if they discipline their students, and, rather than the parents supporting the teacher as extensions of their role, they meet with the teacher to question their qualifications. While administrators need to carry out directives from federal, state and local recommendations, requirements and restrictions, the need for additional certifications, professional development other supplemental educational experiences continues to grow, which usually must be paid for by the teacher.
Then there is the taxpayer, or, the tuition payer. If taxpayers are elderly, they bemoan the fact that their children are grown, and they may be on a fixed income. Increases in taxes to provide better educational experiences and resources are met with resistance since their children are grown and gone, and the children who are being educated today will more than like move from the neighborhood in which they grow up. Young parents also complain about parents who may not be paying taxes, and that they’re are afforded the same education for their children. Parents who choose to enroll their children in faith-based or private schools and paying tuition are also paying taxes, and, to add insult to injury, fewer and fewer children in their faith-based school means their tuition costs go higher and higher…and more and more children in the public school with budget cuts means less and less resources allocated to create an exceptional educational experience for the majority of students.
While tenured teachers may weather the storm, today’s younger teachers are offered a salary that is barely livable, expected to continue their professional development by funding it from their limited resources, and adhere to standards of irreproachable conduct. Their day starts early in the morning, and continues after students are dismissed since that’s when they’re expected to moderate an activity, prepare lesson plans, grade exams, write letters of recommendation, post homework assignments and counsel and/or tutor students who are having difficulties in the classroom.
Today in this country, more than ever, we’d better hope that teachers love their jobs. If they don’t, and are beat down by the red tape, restrictions, and run-arounds they experience, as well as the abilities, pervasiveness and preference of technology, we might discover that our teachers are vanishing too.