Back To School This Year Is About More Than Getting An Education

I spent 10 years teaching in a high school classroom and each fall brought with it a new or modified responsibility. There was always another form or test or record or instructional modification that was required by the district, the state or the federal government. They were all connected to student performance or teacher accountability in some way.
Having been a teacher gives me intimate knowledge of what is going on inside the schools. But this year, it’s not only the teachers who are worried about what new piece of legislation will impact their job. Every stakeholder in the K-12 system is trying to figure out how the unprecedented shortage of teachers will affect them this year. Districts are taking measures they never expected to take. Nationwide, they are scrambling to fill thousands of open teaching positions.
Professionals who study educational trends point to pandemic-induced teacher exhaustion, low pay and the disrespect shown to teachers by politicians as they attempt to restrict both the curriculum available to teachers and what teachers can and cannot say to their students.
Unfortunately, but not surprising, the fixes that administrators have come up with will only make things worse. Increasing class size, inviting college students to secure teaching positions, inviting former military personnel to secure teaching positions and going to a four-day week are all solutions offered up by desperate school officials.
Do you think that anyone who taught in a public education classroom for any length of time is surprised? If you have not taught or have a loved one who did, the answer is no. All the requirements that have been added to the plates of teachers since the days of the little one-room schoolhouse on a sparsely populated prairie are akin to the straws placed on the camel’s back. These last legislative, pandemic, and curriculum-related “straws” broke the camel’s back. Now who will they get to haul the straw?
I think that while all the politicians, school boards and parent organizations were arguing about all the social issues this past year that none of them stopped long enough to ask themselves this; “When people were beating up on teachers and just being real nasty about what we’re doing and what we’re not doing,” Houston said, “I don’t think they were really thinking, ‘Who will teach my children?’” – Hannah Natanson article in The Washington Post.

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