Recently, I asked them what changes they would make to our current educational system. Not just our school, I cautioned them, but to education as a whole.
Many of them share the same concerns most teachers do, and one thing that came up several times was the lack of good teachers. I'm no dummy: I realize that there are some bad, BAD teachers who are doing their best to turn out stupid kids after four years (I also know they were NOT talking about me). But I also realize that they are speaking from one perspective, and they don't have all the information needed to comprehend just how hard it is to attract good teachers and, perhaps more importantly, to KEEP them.
The following is what I wrote in response to their comments. I haven't decided if I will post it yet.
I agree that we need quality teachers. In fact, I strive to be one, some day. The plain fact of the matter is that our public school system will continue to employ mediocre teachers unless they make the job worthwhile.
Having, at various times in my career, contemplated leaving teaching, I have often looked at job sites for something else to do. I discovered, to my amazement, that I could make the same salary--or higher!--as an entry level file clerk or administrative assistant if I worked for the federal government. Just think: no papers to grade, no students to deal with, no parents to call ... sure, I'd have to be around criminals all day, and probably skeevy politicians, but I'd have good health benefits, all government holidays, and I'd talk to adults all day long. AS A FILE CLERK.
There ARE many, many talented people who either don't consider teaching as a career, or who leave the profession, simply because they work harder for less money with more pressure and fewer rewards.
Sure, some people stick it out, but the education system is making it harder and harder for teachers to DO THE JOB THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO DO. Do you think we WANT to teach to a test? Or that we ENJOY being part of a system that creates automatons who cannot--no, who REFUSE--to think for themselves???
I will tell you the truth: those are the days when I wish I were a file clerk.