When the benefits, or lack there-of of teaching come up, one thing I hear a lot is, “That’s how it is in the real world.” In the “real world” you are paid by what you produce. That’s great if you sell something. Let’s say you sell tires. Your boss gives you the worst client list in the history of client lists. So you work with that….and then you go out and find better clients. In teaching. we teach whoever comes in our door. We teach children above, on and below grade level and expect them all to gain a year’s worth of learning. We teach and love them all equally, regardless of their abilities and we don’t get to pick who we teach.
No selling here….
But I don’t sell anything. I teach children. I teach 22 individuals with a variety of abilities, personalities and home lives. I teach children who have milk and cookies waiting for them when they get off the school bus, a snack before the tutor arrives. I teach children who are picked up at 6:00 from aftercare and get McDonald’s on their way home. I teach children who love to read and who hate to read. I teach children who adore math and those who’s hearts sink when I ask them to pull out their math books. I teach children who love to explore the world of science and children who would rather write a 1,000 word essay than do an experiment. I teach them all, in one room, and expect them all to have amazing test results three-quarters through the year (we test in April). I think that Taylor Mali said it best here – this is what I do – What I Make.
I chose this, so it’s my fault….
But I knew what I was getting into right? I mean, when I was three and wanted to be a teacher, I knew that I would be testing kids to death. I knew that I would barely be able to make a living. I knew that things would be 100% different than when I was in school. Sigh, if only my crystal ball hadn’t broken.
No house for you….
All of this is a bit of old news though. Things in education have been on a downward slide for years. But now, there’s a new fly in the ointment of attracting teachers to Florida. You see, when our illustrious Governor signed SB736 into law, he put all new hires on annual contract. Just like the real world. You preform during the year, or you don’t get renewed. Sounds fair right? I mean, Florida is a Right To Work state, so employers can fire you on a whim. Of course, if you are in a job right now, that job is pretty much assumed to be infinite unless you are on a contract that is specifically renewed each year. Meaning, most of you have reviews at the end of the year, you may or may not get a raise or told how to improve your performance, but you will have a job. If you go to apply for a mortgage or a car loan, you have a reliable job and the lender thinks you are a good risk. But what if you had a job for ten months that may or may not be renewed the next year? Do you think the bank is going to want to lend you money? Probably not. You also have insurance as long as you are employed. But if you are a teacher on this contact, you lose your insurance every June and get it back in September. This is wonderful since most teachers use the summer to get caught up on their doctor’s appointments. But hey, that’s how it works in the real world, right?
Don’t teach in Florida….
The point of this law was to pay teachers “what they are worth” as long as we were willing to give up our security. It will also attract quality teachers to Florida by paying them more. Of course, this is another unfunded mandate, so there’s no money for these lovely bonuses. And the bonuses don’t factor into your retirement, so you could be making “good money” while your teaching and eating Ramon noodles when you retire. Personally, I think you have to have your head examined to become a teacher in Florida with the way things are now. We are underpaid, not respected and now, possibly unable to own a house or a car or have consistent health insurance.
So how do we change this mess? VOTE! Get out and meet the candidates. Tell them your concerns about education and encourage them to repeal this unfunded mandate. Ask them to put more money into education so we will no longer be 42nd in per pupil spending and 47th in teacher pay. The only way things will change, is if we all raise our voices together.
This post was inspired after reading this article: Little Known Law Hurts Teachers