Despite all the technology and “transparency” that increased communication has brought us, the misconceptions regarding the teaching profession continue to thrive. Just today I received a Facebook post which stated that the teaching profession is pretty good- after all “your job is guaranteed for life after three years, you only work from eight am until three pm, you work ten months of the year and you get pay raise every year.”
Had this post come from someone who was completely foreign to the profession I could have almost forgiven him. Almost. The tragedy is that the post actually came from a person who had been a teacher for over thirty years. It was astounding to me that someone who was a part of the profession could have been so oblivious to the obvious.
In his Op Ed piece, “The Benefits to BS Ratio”, Dave Reber talks about those who value education versus those who believe it is a waste of tax dollars. According to Reber, the difference in philosophies results in how people perceive teachers; under or over paid. It is part of a larger political argument regarding state pensions, state employee benefits and the use of tax dollars. Reber’s article discusses how the benefits of a profession (or lack of) can either attract and retain people in a profession or result in the opposite effect with few people entering the profession and a large turnover rate for those who do.
Those of us who currently teach realize how hard the job is and how few benefits there are left for dedicated teachers. We may get paid for the hours between eight and three, but we certainly work more than seven hours a day. I have known too many teachers to count who have been in the profession for ten or more years who lost their “guaranteed lifetime jobs” due to budget cuts, district layoffs and reductions in staff. Pay raises? Are there still such things? Using my friend’s Facebook post as a sobering example, there are scores of people who are misinformed about what we do, how we do it and how hard it has become to succeed at it. We need to clear up the misconceptions that the public has about our jobs and benefits as it will play a crucial part in the public tug of war between the public and private sector employees and will have a profound effect on the future of educational reform.