I wanted to publish it here.
I don’t know where it originates. I received it from a teacher in Kansas, who received it from somewhere else. I wanted to memorialize it because in the midst of contract negotiations–something that only business or math teachers must feel foreign, if not icky–it’s good to shine a light on the perverse way America is treating its public school teachers with its demands for give-backs and its disrespect for experience. The message feels like a reality-check.
It’s been called by its repeated question: “In what other profession?”
In what other profession, indeed.
In what other profession are the licensed professionals considered the LEAST knowledgeable about the job? You seldom if ever hear “that guy couldn’t possibly know a thing about law enforcement – he’s a police officer,” or, “she can’t be trusted talking about fire safety – she’s a firefighter.”
In what other profession is experience viewed as a liability rather than an asset? You won’t find a contractor advertising, “choose me – I’ve never done this before,” and your doctor won’t recommend a surgeon on the basis of her “having very little experience with the procedure”.
In what other profession is the desire for competitive salary viewed as proof of callous indifference towards the job? You won’t hear many say “that lawyer charges a lot of money, she obviously doesn’t care about her clients”, or “that coach earns millions – clearly he doesn’t care about the team.”
But look around. You’ll find droves of armchair educators who summarily dismiss any statement about education when it comes from a teacher. Likewise, it’s easy to find politicians, pundits, and profiteers who refer to our veteran teachers asineffective, overpriced “dead wood.” Only the rookies could possibly be any good, or worth the food-stamp-eligible starting salaries we pay them.
And if teachers dare ask for a raise, this is taken by many as clear evidence that teachers don’t give a porcupine’s posterior about kids. In fact, some say if teachers really cared about their students they would insist on earning LESS money.
If that entire attitude weren’t bad enough, what other profession is legally held to PERFECTION by 2014? Are police required to eliminate all crime? Are firefighters required to eliminate all fires? Are doctors required to cure all patients? Are lawyers required to win all cases? Are coaches required to win all games? Of course they aren’t.
For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world. Crime happens. Fire happens. Illness happens. As for lawyers and coaches, where there’s a winner there must also be a loser. People accept all these realities, until they apply to public education.
If a poverty-stricken, drug-addled meth-cooker burns down his house, suffers third degree burns, and then goes to jail, we don’t blame the police, fire department, doctors, and defense attorneys for his predicament. But if that kid doesn’t graduate high school, it’s clearly the teacher’s fault.
And if someone – anyone – tries to tell you otherwise; don’t listen. He must be a teacher.
What other profession would society thus treat? None, since the clergy are neither civil servants nor unionized.
I believe many Americans see teachers as schoolmarms, saints, or scoundrels. And when times are tough, they scrutinize and demand more from their servants; they treat the “profession” as unjustly as this viral message describes.
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