Learning Begins at Home
We’ve missed our poetry editor and resident English professor. He’s back on a monthly basis for now while he still deals with health limitations. Today’s post is his personal view on the teacher’s strike in Chicago.
Hello, gentle readers. It was my intention to write a poetry lesson for today, but as I was watching the news, I was first surprised then angered at the segment on the impending Chicago public school’s teacher’s strike. One parent the reporter interviewed spoke about how the schools weren’t performing well enough to justify a raise in teachers’ pay. The parent’s comments reflected a growing dissatisfaction (nationwide) with public schools, in general. Unfortunately, teachers are often the scapegoats- wrongly accused of not “caring enough” to properly educate children.
Well, unfortunately, this assumption is incorrect on a very important level. While some subjects lend themselves to “cookie-cutter” teaching, (ie. the correct usage of grammar, rules of mathematical functions) teachers are required to create lesson plans which address different learning styles and student ability. However, with overcrowded classrooms and diminished parental funding for basics like pencils and paper, teachers are often asked to do the impossible- to teach Johnny and Jenny for less pay and fewer incentives, and under more scrutiny than ever before.
Additionally, teachers are required to attend ongoing “professional enrichment” classes- at their own expense. I’ve often heard the ludicrous argument that “teachers only work eight months out of the year”. That is patently untrue. Teachers spend countless hours grading homework, scoring tests, creating lesson plans, and meeting with administrators and other professionals in the field to build and develop education plans for at- risk students- usually, “off the clock”. These are things that a lot of parents never “see”, but seem to indicate the characteristics of a person who is deeply invested in educating youth.
I get it. I really do. Companies are cutting working hours. Healthcare costs are on the rise, as are fuel costs, grocery prices, insurance premiums, and taxes. What I do not understand is why people seem to think that the people who attempt to educate our kids don’t deserve to earn enough to survive. Yes, some teachers earn a very nice living, but only after many years in the field- and earning additional degrees.
Really, the basic problem with education begins at home. Parents wrongfully assume that their child’s education begins at the start of the school day, and ends at three-thirty… It shouldn’t be a school’s responsibility to provide learning materials, two meals a day, support programs, counseling, and disciplinary oversight in place of absent parenting. Yet, if one were to suggest that educators should earn more money and/or benefits for providing these services- in addition to the core precepts of teaching, people lose their minds.
Personal accountability for educating a child rests solely on the parents- and those parents who do invest time and energy into their children’s education find that their children are more critical and creative people. There needs to be a massive shift in the dynamics between parents, children, and educators- much more of a “partnership”, rather than..”Here’s Junior. He can’t read because I don’t have the time or desire to read with him. He’s unwashed, hungry, hasn’t slept, doesn’t have the required materials, and suffers from undiagnosed and untreated X. He’s your problem now.”