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Don't Go Into Teaching (Letter to my grandaughter)

Dear Alice,

I was thrilled to hear you were studying in college to be a math teacher. The thrill is gone. Now, I am alarmed. Save yourself. Don’t go into teaching. Teachers have become the scapegoats for the failure of education. Blame-the-teacher is everywhere. Such constant media repetition makes the brainwashed public accept this propaganda as an unquestioned fact.

Every billionaire Tom, Dick and Harry are now implementing educational policy regardless of their ignorance on the subject. Their money talks louder than the expertise of professionals.

In reality, public school policy is not determined by educational professionals anymore. It is determined by budget. These budgets are being cut everywhere causing adverse learning conditions and teachers must submit under threat of ruining their reputation if their school is considered ‘failing’. Because of budget problems, in Fairfax County, Virginia, 750 teachers got laid-off, Chicago closed over 50 schools, The city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, closed 64 schools. In 2009 D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, laid-off 388 school employees, including 229 classroom teachers in a system of just 3,800 teachers. This is happening all over the country because of this save-taxes-fire-a-teacher policy and it could get worse.

Are these actions designed to improve education? Just as Shinseki has been made the fall guy of the woefully underfunded VA health system, politicians cut educational funding and then blame teachers for the inevitable consequences.

So where does a laid-off teacher find a job? Probably as a Wal-Mart greeter or hamburger-turner at McDonalds. So Alice, if you want job security, look elsewhere.

Tenure will not protect you. With the continued attack on teachers, tenure has become a dirty word. After 1-7 years on the job, teachers received tenure. It  protected them from being fired for personal or political reasons, and prevented the firing of experienced teachers to hire less expensive new teachers. Before tenure, in 1886, women teachers were sometimes dismissed for getting married, becoming pregnant, wearing pants, or being out too late in the evenings. Now ruthless politicians want to have that power back.

Once upon a time, there was a teacher shortage and programs like ‘Teach America’ was introduced to fill the dangerous gap. Now, so many teachers have been laid-off that there might be a surplus.

I know you are good with kids, have a passion to teach, and want to kindle that respect and admiration for learning in the young ones. But, save yourself. Teaching has become a precarious job. The salary is not good. The kids seem to be more unmanageable. Instead of appreciation, you will face malignment. But, Alice, you have a life to live. You will need a steady income. Teachers can’t afford to live in cities these days but must reside far out of town where it is cheaper. Do not rush into uncertainty. Once again, save yourself. Don’t go into teaching.

Heed the message of this story:

 John got a call from his friend to come over and help him move his piano from the basement to the attic. When he got there, the piano was already in the attic. “Did you move that heavy piano from the basement to the attic by yourself”, John asked.

“Nope, I tied the cat to it”, he replied.

“How on earth did you get a cat to do that?” asked John incredulously.

“I used a whip.”

Beware! They have tied that educational piano to teachers’ backs and they have got the whips out.

 

Sincerely,

Your concerned grandad

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