The future of teachers

5 months ago Sabrina Lemons Comments Off on The future of teachers

We can all agree that teachers have an important job that has become more difficult with the moral decay that has invaded society. What are we supposed to do to compensate her teachers?

The solution to most if not all societal ailments is change within the community. So, what is it that schools and parents, accompanied by the community, can do to bring about change in schools to foster an education-rich environment? The news, public at large, communities and many sideline cowboys think the solution is paying teachers more, but this is only part of the solution. It does not solve the behavior problems, attendance problems, graduation problems, drug problems and violence. We are still human, so we must address the human factor when considering the problems of our society, including our school system.

Every time there’s an increase in salary for a firefighter, police officer, judge, city worker or teacher, it comes at taxpayers’ expense. We agree many of these positions are necessary to maintain a civil society. Making education available at the expense of taxpayers does not mean it has been truly absorbed and utilized. Students and children no longer see the value in doing well, since the media has shown them how they can get rich by debasing themselves and making a spectacle out of what once was their character. Additionally, the public education system does not offer an outlet for creativity skills, or gifts beyond reading, writing, arithmetic and other forced academic agendas.

As a person who has been educated by, taught in, and encountered recent examples of those educated in the public school system over the last 40-plus years, it is clear that increasing teachers’ salaries will not address the real problems in the public school system, no matter what state you live in.

Maybe the situation with public school teachers is the first visible display that public education is not for everybody and should not be so forcefully regimented. It is clear, and many historians can support the fact, that our education system was structured when our country was in great turmoil and coming into the boom of the industrial revolution.

Our education system right down to classroom design is set up for cookie cutter results and cookie cutter behavior; however, we all know that humanity cannot be regimented the way that machines are designed or programmed.

Before we throw money from our taxpayers at teacher salaries, maybe we should reinvent, redesign re-structure, re-evaluate and revitalize our public school system.

In today’s society, businesses minimize employees’ hours down to part time, so they don’t have to pay benefits, medical, dental and life insurance. So maybe it is time to take a playbook from the business world and streamline our education system so that our teachers are not hobbled by a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. job 10 months out of the year, with summers off and can pursue more lucrative employment opportunities.

At some point, the school system stopped providing the services or the quality end result they are paid to provide. Since when do we pay bonuses when somebody does not meet their expected goal?

This article took a different turn than I had expected, because I am a great champion of teachers and the hard work they do. I have also learned and realized over the years that the students of today may not respect their teachers the way I respected my teachers when I was growing up and many parents are not involved in the schools the way some parents were when I was growing up.

I kept in touch with two people from my high school career: my 10th grade social studies teacher, Russ Barnett, and my high school principal, Dr. Robert Maher.

Barnett and I would exchange letters discussing world events and do our usual troubleshooting on how to make the world a better place. Even while I was on active duty, he would send me books that he used in teaching his college courses; he enjoyed an active and curious mind and never missed an opportunity to feed a hungry mind. Barnett always afforded us the opportunity of open discussion in the classroom, as he believed he could learn from us, just as much as we learn from him!

Dr. Maher and I kept in touch all through my life. Before the invention of the Internet, Maher and I would exchange the occasional hand-written letter and catch up. It was kind of nice to have communication with somebody from home. It afforded me was a grounding weight, a yardstick of my personal growth and development. It was also an opportunity to share similarities I recognized between Marine Corps leadership and the leadership class I took in high school. The feedback I shared with Maher enabled him to enhance the leadership class.

So again, maybe it’s time we re-evaluate our education system and not just what we are paying people to do a job. Many teachers cite not being able to raise a family on a teacher’s salary. If they are a one-income household. One has to ask just how much taxpayers are supposed to pay a teacher so that only one person in the household has to work. Maybe the teachers should be looking at their family planning methods and strategies now and before they get married. Basing a household’s finances on the income from one person is dramatic if there are two people bringing home paychecks. We are constantly taught not to live above our means. Maybe teachers need to practice basic addition, subtraction and multiplication in their own households before asking taxpayers to divide more of their paychecks for teachers.

Sabrina Lemons
smlemons@vwu.edu