I can only speak for myself and don’t purport to be the voice of all educators, but I’m angry at this country for how we in this profession are treated. The bureaucratic powers that be seem to view us as a disposable commodity, cheap labor easily replenished by younger, cheaper labor. We are worn to a nub on a daily basis, our skills burned out too quickly from overuse, our experience and expertise discarded without regard for the long-term implications. Teaching, real hands-on teaching where the educator draws forth students’ inner potentials, is both an art and a science, and those of us dedicated to this profession care deeply about our kids. We care deeply about passing along knowledge and skills, about instilling work ethic and discipline, and about carrying on the traditions and norms of our society.
But we are treated and paid like semi-skilled labor.
It angers me to think of all the sacrifices I’ve made for this profession, only to be drowning in student loan debt, barely surviving, and scraping up change to buy a meal at the end of the month. I’m sick of being poor. I’m sick of sacrificing my weekends to grade. I’m sick of working 50-60 hour weeks for table scraps. I’m sick of administrators stripping away our authority, students disrespecting our efforts, parents blaming us for their child’s laziness, and society shaming us for a broken system that we have zero say-so in fixing. I’m sick of not being able to buy new clothes or fix my teeth or take a real vacation. I’m sick of politicians giving lip-service to correcting the problems and then passing legislation that piles more of the burden onto our shoulders.
Personally, I think the only reason so many of us have lasted as long as we have is that some part of us has hoped that somehow the system would correct itself. But it just keeps getting worse. I’m writing this whole series about the failures of education in part as some desperate plea for someone somewhere to hear what we are saying and take us seriously but also to leave behind some record that we fought against whatever tyrannical, Huxleyan nightmare this is descending on America. We have fought against it because we are professionals, because we care, because we are patriots, but the nightmare is winning, and it may be too late to turn the tide. We are losing. I see it on my colleagues faces as we pass each other in the hall; I hear it in our voices as we say good mornings; I feel it in the air as students gaze into their electronic universe, oblivious to reality.
One day, our country will pay a steep price for has been done to educators. That day may be sooner rather than later.