What do you think would make the public happy about teachers?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by waterfall, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Another thread got me thinking. This past year, the media and the public in general have definitely put teachers through the ringer. These are the most common things I've heard:
    -Overpaid/tax payers pay too much for our benefits
    -Only work part time (not even an 8 hour day)
    -Summer vacation and holidays off
    -Union protection
    -Students aren't doing well on standardized test scores


    So just theoretically, what do you think would have to happen for the public to say "okay, now this is fair." I guess we could say lower salaries/less benefits/no unions. What about time off though? What could schools possibly do (again, theoretically, I know in reality no one can afford a pay cut) that would make people feel like teachers work as many days/hours as they should? Would people want school in the summer and only off for major holidays (meaning their kids would be at school during that time too?) Or would they want us to have to come in and do some sort of planned work over the summer? I just can't figure out what actually would make these people happy- what are they realistically expecting?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I honestly think that nothing short of perfect test scores will make the public happy, and even that's a bit iffy to me.

    Whatever progress we make in any direction will be immediately undermined by the powers that be who, in my opinion, are waging a war against public education and will only stop when public education is completely destroyed and replaced by for-profit private schools.
     
  4. iloveschool

    iloveschool Companion

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    Caesar753 Is correct!! The problem is not every child has the IQ to pass the test!! If I could raise students IQs- I would be a millionaire!! No matter how hard you try some students are going to fail!! If everyone were exactly the same this would be a very boring world!!
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree that not every student is going to be able to pass a test, probably one that is culturally and socio-economically insensitive to boot.

    That's why school shouldn't be just about passing those ridiculous tests. Isn't it more important that we teach kids about the world around them, how they can contribute to it and make it a better place? Filling in bubbles all day every day isn't going to help anyone achieve that goal.

    The direction in which our education system is headed disgusts me. Given the fact that I've seen politicians (in every party, some parties worse than others) make one horrific decision after another, the only conclusion I can reach is that what's happening in education today is systematic and intentional. And that makes it even worse, because it's happening at the expense of our children's futures. Sickening.
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    For them to see exactly what teachers go through on a daily basis.
     
  7. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I agree and disagree with some of the thoughts here. I agree that results are what the public cares about - I disagree that it's unrealistic to expect teachers/schools/educators to achieve results.

    The discussion about measuring teacher performance has been had a number of times, but I do think that - many issues put aside - teachers can make an impact on student achievement. There are better and worse teachers, better and worse teaching methods, better and worse schools, etc. Not every child will be helped, but I think the public gets that. What they don't get is that graduation rates at some schools are less than 50%, than in some states/localities and extremely small percentage of students meet expectations - people don't expect perfection, but they do expect better than failure. I'm not personally blaming schools, but I think it's reasonable to expect more from schools - whether it's their fault or not.

    Consider the case of doctors - no one expects that doctors will never experience patients that die, or have cases they can't solve. But, if a doctor only solved 40% of the cases brought to him/her - when other doctors were able to solve a substantially higher number - people would be upset with that doctor. No one thinks that doctors cause the problems that come into their office, but they still expect them to fix a good percentage of them.

    Overall, I think it's dangerous to hold teachers/schools 100% accountable for the achievement of their students, but I think it's quite reasonable to expect them to at least be partially accountable. The questions remain exactly how accountable, and how to measure that accountability. Those are questions, though, of how to technically go about doing that (measuring accountability) - not whether it should exist.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Here's the perception problem as I see it:

    Every single year school taxes go up. On Long Island, they're incredibly high.

    BUT--- I'm not sure the general public is aware, but we don't get to vote on teacher salaries. They're done on a contract basis, so they're not in the part of the budget we vote for.

    I think the public needs to see that increasing taxes are the result of administrative decisions, not greedy teachers stealing all their money.

    I don't think the public's perception of the education in their local districts has changed in the past year or two, merely their willingness to pay more each year for what they see as the same result.
     
  9. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I completely agree! I see a lot of parents sucking at parenting and its a shame teachers can't call them out on it. A good education starts at home-- not school.
     
  10. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I agree, but what happens out of school is out of our control, so we have to focus on what we can do inside of school. The good news is that there is plenty to do! We can work with kids who have not had the benefit of supportive parenting related to learning, and style do amazing things.

    I think it's true that parents/homes are part of the issue of low educational performance, but no one (including teachers) likes to hear people complain about what the other side did. For example, take 2 kids in a fight. A teacher would much rather hear a child say, "I was wrong with what I did, and I can do better" than "But he was fighting too!" It's true - both sides were fighting, and are to blame, but no one likes to hear someone focus on the other side's contribution to the problem - it's much more respectable to take responsibility for what one can.

    That's not to say there isn't a place in academic discussions - or on places like this website - for talking about other problems we can't control, but this shouldn't be the focus of our conversation - our own problems, responsibilities, and contributions should be. In the end, that will earn the teaching profession more respect than technically being right and blaming parents.
     
  11. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    So do you think if test scores drastically improved, people would be happy with everything else? Honestly, the absolute biggest complaint I hear from the general public is that we think salaries are so low, but we get SO much time off that the low salaries are actually too generous. That's just the one thing that I don't see what they want us to do about. So those of you that are saying we can raise test scores-do you think if we saw a huge spike in test scores, people would then be okay with us getting summers and holidays off? Honestly, I'm willing to admit that so many days off is a huge perk that doesn't really happen in other fields. Yes, I do spend some days off doing work for school or planning, but lets be honest...I don't know any teachers that work on planning/preparing 8 hours a day, 5 days a week all summer long. One of my best friends (also a teacher) came out here to visit me for a week this summer. One of our non-teacher friends really wanted to come, but as a first-year employee (she's a graphic designer) she got absolutely NO days off this entire year. However, I don't think that people would be happy with a really long school year, because they want their kids home for holidays and the summer, so what is the solution? I know in my home city where summer is "tourist season" the economy is boosted by kids and families getting out and spending more money rather than going to school.

    ETA: I also agree with some of the test score comments. We are doing everything that we can, but some things simply are out of our control. Politically incorrect or not, some kids just do not have the natural ability to pass the test (a student with a severe disability, for example) no matter what you do. That's not to say that those students can't make progress and learn- they just can't learn enough to pass a state test. The 100% passing is the most absurd idea I've ever heard.

    At my school, language barriers are a huge issue with passing the state tests. I work with a group of extremely dedicated professionals (seriously, not a lazy one in the bunch) and people go way above and beyond what's normal. We also have an excellent rigorous academic program that we follow, and we have kids tracking their own progress and getting excited about learning. However, many of our kids don't pass the tests until they get older because their English simply isn't good enough. They don't understand what the question is asking or get confused by the vocabulary. I mentioned this in another thread, but our 3rd grade reading scores were extremely low. I noticed that 3 of my students on IEPs were actually proficient in every reading area (fiction, non fiction, poetry), but their vocabulary scores were so low that it caused them to fail the entire test. I went through and looked at the gen ed kids and saw the same thing over and over- proficient on reading but extremely low vocabulary skills. Their English just isn't good enough. Many of them have gone to Mexico for the summer and will not speak any English there- so each school year we have to go back and review, review, review the English skills. Out of our students who are proficient in English (based on CELA results, so this includes native Spanish speakers who have reached a level of English proficiency), 94% passed the state test. Obviously, we're doing something right there...but our scores look low because of the younger students who haven't mastered English yet.
     
  12. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I do. Not everyone - some will always complain. But, you don't hear too much public outcry over the salaries of doctors & lawyers - you do hear some call for reform with medical malpractice, but people realize that doctor's are worth it, and need to be paid that amount because we want to attract the best and brightest so that we can stay alive. (This has changed somewhat recently with health care legislation.)

    Personally, I think teachers should have more benefits and higher salaries - not even just acceptance for staying the same. But, I think the profession needs to prove itself indispensable when it comes to the final product of education - student achievement (broadly defined, including social/emotional development). Some teachers/schools/localities have already done this - many have not.

    If teachers are unwilling to acceptance responsibility for educational achievement, how can they ask for higher salaries and more benefits? If they can't deliver, why have them at all? If parents are at fault, why not dismiss teachers and higher parent coaches? Obviously, I think teachers are critically important - I do believe they are indispensable. However, many others remain unconvinced because the data do not demonstrate such success, and to know the details of why a teacher may be great but not facilitate educational achievement requires a much closer look than is available to many in the public.
     
  13. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    You'll never make everybody happy.
     
  14. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I hear you, and I unfortunately it's a situation where you're judged by the weakest link in the profession - even if there isn't one in your school. Even if only 20% of teachers out there needed substantial improvement, and 80% went above and beyond (which may be true), there will still be calls for reform.

    Just look at your special ed coordinator - who continues to make nonsensical decisions that affect the performance of your school. It's unfortunate, but as long as there are people like that in any sort of non-trivial presence, there will be calls for reform.
     
  15. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    The two biggest complaints in my area are salary and teachers not staying at work.

    So, many people say we get paid too much. I could afford to live in my town, if I a) didn't mind living in an unsafe neighborhood or b) didn't mind living in a safe neighborhood but be unable to save anything.

    And then many people complain that we "leave work with the kids." Well... yes, a lot of people do. To be honest, that's all we get paid for. Or we have children who need to get picked up at daycare. Or a doctor's appointment. Or we prefer grading papers in pajamas on the couch. But just because the car's leaving the parking lot "on time" doesn't mean there isn't a pile of work in the backseat.

    So... maybe we need to become "people" again instead of "teachers" and the new connotation behind that word.
     
  16. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Good point! Not to get totally off topic...but if we are totally judging performance by test scores, where do administrators come into that? At what point is the admin (rather than the teacher) actually held accountable for test scores- and how does an outsider know whose "fault" overly low scores might be? Even if we start looking at admin, we'd probably start with principals of individual schools. It'd take a long time to get up to the director of special education. When we get there, how do we judge in this "pay for performance" system rather an administrator is effective or not- particularly one that doesn't see kids in any way?
     
  17. VANewbie

    VANewbie Devotee

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    Exactly!
     
  18. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    24-hour babysitting service.

    Because now that they've had the kids and seen what a responsibility they actually are, they've decided they want their lives to themselves.
     
  19. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    In my state, if schools want more $$ they must go to voters via levy or operating referendum. Most votes have not been successful in recent years. Your district residents vote to increase funding for schools every year? Or am I just making it too complicated?
     
  20. sjnkate

    sjnkate Rookie

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    I think a reality tv show that followed hard working teachers would help. :haha:
     
  21. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Having been a parent of a child who attended several (good) public schools (and the product of an excellent public education myself), I remember my thoughts re: teachers and the education field in general before I ever considered entering it myself. I may not be representative of the public as a whole, but I NEVER considered teacher salaries too large, or summers off as an unreasonable perk (although my personal preference would be for year-round school, with the same amount of time off spread between the four quarters).

    Now that I AM a public school educator, I know that the salaries aren't great, some not even really good. If it weren't for my hubby's earnings, I wouldn't make it on a teacher's income. In addition, I didn't spend my summer playing and visiting friends. I spent one week on vacation. Other than that, I was working, either attending (12) professional development seminars, or at home, planning, reading, and revamping things for my classroom. No one paid me for any of that. My brother didn't realize that my salary is really for 9 months worth, but that it is spread over 12 months, until I told him the other day. I generally go in to school around 6:30 a.m., and rarely leave before 4:00 p.m. I haven't done the math, but I doubt I'm clearing much more than minimum wage right now based upon my hours. To top all of that, I have already spent more than $500 of my own money to buy supplies that my students' families will or cannot and to purchase things like ink and cables so that the computer equipment in my room will operate correctly. Our new P told me today that our school's budget doesn't even have money in it for repairs, much less new items.

    In addition, we currently have a superintendent who thinks nothing of blaming (only) teachers for low test scores, yet does not hold parents OR students accountable for their actions or their scores. He spends money flagrantly on out-of-state trips, yet lays off ALL part-time custodians. He is warehousing students, creating situations where students will have more problems succeeding than they already do. Consider this: a 4th grade math classroom with 40+ students. What do you think that would look/sound like, with ONE teacher and no support?

    I know it sounds sarcastic, but sometimes I truly think that some people will not be satisfied until teachers receive $0 pay and students achieve 100% mastery or advanced on the tests. In my district, teachers have not received raises in 3 years, and we are told every year that we must "do more with less."

    You might not be able to tell it, but I honestly love what I do. I just had a huge argument with my hubby about the amount of myself and my money that I put into my work!
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Every single school budget on Long Island contained at least a 3 or 4% increase. And all but 4-- out of 125-- passed on the first try.

    But people are getting fed up, big time. Young people can't afford to buy a house here, or to stay with the amount of taxes. And they see "school tax" and a 3% raise; they don't realize how many teachers are doing without a Cost of Living increase in these hard times.
     
  23. alilac

    alilac Rookie

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    Many teachers get a bad rap. I think there's so much government buracracy that's it's almost impossible to teach anything.

    Taxes being raised are a joke IMO. Too much administration and overhead and not enough basic, common sense, simple teaching. Taxes are being raised only to read that the teachers got a brand new parking lot and they're taking honor roll kids to "honors breakfast". Really? Needful?

    Unfortunately the teachers take the brunt of all the garbage; lousy parents and over-regulation. I don't however, agree with tenure. They should be hired and fired according to how well they do. Some of the lousiest teachers can't be touched because of tenure.

    Illegals...don't get me started. Too much self-esteem garbage and not enough being accountable. Too many incentives/bribery ;) instead of good old-fashioned discipline.

    I just think the world's gone mad, the parents don't care, the kids are empowered by the wrong things in the name of political correctness and it all falls on the teachers.

    So I say get rid of tenure and start having schools be more like a business. It would be more productive. Good teachers stay, lousy teachers go.
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think that generalizations about bad parents are every bit as offensive as those about bad teachers.
     
  25. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    In the New York Times they do slideshows of houses for sale in the region. One of the pieces of information listed shows the annual tax assessment. Houses in suburban NY routinely list annual taxes of 8, 10, 20 thousand dollars. It's amazing to see. Our tax bill runs about 2k and has been in that general range everywhere we've lived (4 states in the last 10 years).

    So, yeah. Young people can't afford to buy the house in part because even if they could afford the house, they can't find 500-2000 dollars per month to pay taxes.
     
  26. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    I think there is no solution. We are the current scapegoats in our society. A scapegoats can do not right. If we all produced 100% test scores then the politicians and the media would find something else to pick on and then broadcast this wrong we have done whether true or not. Probably that we tormented the children to produce these ridiculously impossible test score statistics.

    Really, we need to find another scapegoat to take our place. Wouldn't that be nice? That is what Wall Street did-everyone was ****** at them so they said how can we spin the situation away from us as the bad guy? Lets find the easiest target-public service employees...
     
  27. eddygirl

    eddygirl Companion

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    I may be way off base here, but I think the state of educating a child boils down to three main factors, or a triangle, if you will--student, parent, teacher. If any of these three factors does not carry through with its responsibilities, educating the child may not be successful.

    I went to school in the 60's and 70's, so maybe I have a "dinosaur" perspective, but I believe today's teachers are probably more creative, certainly better educated, and also more aware of learning styles that will help students be successful. Yet, we hear every day about kids underperforming, dropping out, and generally disinterested in reaching an educational goal. Can society really blame today's teachers for this?

    Alice, I understand what you are saying about generalizations, but the fact is that today's society is looking for a "quick fix" instead of doing the work needed to reach the next level. A well-educated and dedicated teacher can only do so much if the child and parent(s) are not on board and willing to do their part.

    I work with students from various socio-economic backgrounds, and they all receive the benefit of the same teacher--me. The only differences I see between their successes in school are the commitment of the student himself and the family who is supportive in helping him further his education. As one part of the triangle, I can't turn him into a stellar student unless the other parts do their share.
     
  28. tchr4evr

    tchr4evr Companion

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    I agree

    In a world of the "feel-good", there needs to be accountability. And while legitimately, there are students who will not succeed, no matter how good a teacher they have, most will, if they try. I have always been considered one of the more rigorous teachers in my building, and although I do everything I can to help them, if my seniors fail, they fail. There are times when I feel bad for them, but I've always believed that it is their fault, although I've had parents, admin and counselors tell me its mine. But, last year, I had a wonderful comment from a student. I went to the emergency room for a broken toe. At the front desk was a former student of mine who had failed my senior English class, and ended up repeating 12th grade because of it. He is now a successful medical assistant. We chatted a little as I filled out my paperwork and I sat down. While I was waiting, his co-worker asked who I was, and he said, "That's the teacher that made me realize I was a screw-up and that I was wasting my time." When he escorted me in to the exam room, I told him I had heard his comment and thanked him. He said, "No, thank you. You were the first teacher who refused to let me slide by. I hated it at first, but I realized that I learned more from failing your class than if I had graduated on time." It made me feel so good.

    Everything is to blame for the problems, and all of it needs to be adjusted. I know there are times when I could do better. I know my students could do better. I know parents and everyone else could do better. But we all need to support each other more.
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    What tchr4evr said. It is as it is with the national budget: there are no quick, painless fixes and there is no point in anyone trying to cast all the blame (and all the pain) on someone else if our intention is other than simply to give up and let the whole system sink.
     
  30. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Well, I definitely think the "how" is a different question, and I don't have an answer! I think, on a theoretical level, that schools as units should be held accountable, then responsibility divided up within the walls of the school (or perhaps the district). Because I'm not sure that there is the technology to do tie specific teachers to specific achievement test scores, I favor using an "inputs" process as opposed to outcomes with teachers, at least until that technology can be developed. So, holding teachers accountable for what they do, not necessarily the end result. Schools, then, would be accountable for the end result, or perhaps the district.

    Those are just my thoughts - no clue if they would work :).
     
  31. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    There needs to be more action movies starring teachers along with glossies of teachers gracing the cover of SI and doing a pheasant strut after scoring a touchdown on Sunday Night football. :)

    From Perceptions of the Status of Teachers

    "...Professions/occupations the general public regards as high status:

    1. Politicians
    2. Professional sportspeople
    3. Lawyers
    4. Doctors
    5. Actors
    6. Business owners
    7. Pilots
    8. Architects

    Three primary drivers of status - power, money, and fame. This is the reason why teachers do not have high status. Although they are recognized as having to be well trained and highly skilled, and are seen as being hugely influential on society in the future, neither of these factors results in them being powerful, famous or rich...." -(Hall D and Langton B)
     
  32. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I agree with this, but I also think there's a difference between status and the public simply being happy with them/satisfied with their job performance. I think many teachers would appreciate not being spoken of so poorly, without necessarily needing status.

    I guess my point in posting this is that I don't think it's hopeless for teachers to expect improvement in the area of public opinion/consumer satisfaction, whereas they might not ever realistically expect to have a high status in society.
     
  33. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Nail on Head.
    I also feel everyone needs to be doing there part.
     
  34. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Wall Street is/should be the target. THEY are the #1 reason we are in all this. And they did it on purpose. But people seem to think it's acceptable to rape and steal from the American public, as long as you wear a suit and went to a prestigious school and work on Wall Street. If these guys were wearing leather jackets with slick hair and saying 'fugedaboutit', we'd call it a mafia and be calling for their heads.

    Teaching has simply become a world of have's and havenot's, and I think that has a big effect on teacher perception.
     
  35. MissAbbeyMarie

    MissAbbeyMarie Rookie

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    I live in North Texas, and I feel like every week when I turn on the news another teacher is being arrested. Once I even counted. In a period of three months, thirteen teachers had been arrested for various reasons. I did not watch to learn more, but now I know why teachers in my area have such a bad wrap. It scares me honestly. I worry that I could be accused of something so awful and lose my own job.

    But, more on the subject, I think that it's true that the public will never be happy. Parents and students both have some words for me if the child does not do well, and what can I do? I have done my best to inform every student of their curriculum, and if they just refuse to apply themselves or let their home life interfere with their work, how is that my fault?

    I think the public will only truly be happy when the government crumbles and our salaries disappear. The people just want to pay less and want us to work harder, unfortunately. In fact, my own mother voted against the bond to finish the other half of our school because the tax on her house would go up.
     
  36. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Aug 19, 2011

    I somewhat agree with the "reality" t.v. show comment. Except I'd like to take it one step further- I think we need to bring the community back into schools. Have more corporations have "paid" volunteer work- (I know several do) where they send people into the schools one hour a week to help with certain tasks. Bonus points if a parent gets to go help in their child's classroom. Additionally, many administrators/politicians need to spend a few days in schools to remember what it is like to be a preschooler, kindergartener, etc. I bet many of them would be amazed and shocked by what we now require of 5 year olds and how many 5 year olds are in a class.
     
  37. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    Aug 19, 2011

    Love the triangle analogy. We can't be expected to be entirely responsible for educating students when parents are not doing their part. Even with that, if we had lower classroom sizes and more resources available this could be done. We are expected to be miracle workers and we are blamed if we are not. We don't have magic powers.

    I also agree with chicagoturtle. Bring the community in and let them see the struggles that we face every day. Every time a parent complains about what I've done or not done I invite the parent to spend a day in my class so that they can see what it is like. I think classrooms should be open to parents so that they can see what's going on first hand. I have no problem with this.
     
  38. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 19, 2011

    Wow.
     
  39. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Aug 19, 2011

    I also agree with this. I have a cousin who will be starting kindergarten this year and her mom told me that kindergarteners now get homework.
     
  40. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 19, 2011

    I have friends who work on Wall Street.

    They haven't raped or stolen from anyone.

    How very insulting.
     
  41. Hitchcock fan

    Hitchcock fan Companion

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    Aug 19, 2011

    Agree with Alice - Generalizations are unfair, no matter who makes them or who the target is. Our work is different from anything else out there; we work with people, not objects. It makes no sense to compare teaching to other professions. It's also infuriating that some people mindlessly repeat the mantra of criticism regarding our work. Some folks seem to think that just because they once went to school, they know all about our work.
     

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