What I Dislike about Being a Teacher
There are lots of reasons not to love teaching right now. Our facilities are dilapidated. The little money that gets spent on facilities tends to go toward fixing emergencies instead of investing in preventative maintenance or replacing worn out or broken furniture and equipment. In public school, ignoring severe maintenance needs is becoming the norm. In higher education, students pay gross sums to attend only to be packed into run-down dorms and shabby classrooms. More on this next week.
Whatever prestige or mystique that used to be attached to teaching is gone. Teachers don’t get a lot of respect, especially from lawmakers, who seem to be hostile to the entire idea of public education right now. Most lawmakers these days seem to be dedicated to trying to divert public money to private groups, who exist mainly to pursue methods and subjects that are still forbidden in public school — religious devotion for the most part. Some people want publicly-funded racially segregated classrooms, and some of our lawmakers are trying to make it easier for them to have what they want.
Teachers endure unrealistic expectations about their work. They are expected to be saints and magicians. They are expected to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For all that, they are compensated scandalously poorly, and the average person thinks it’s fine to vilify and abuse them. Yes, there are bad teachers out there, and the profession is broken in various ways, but most teachers are earnestly doing their best every day under unbelievable pressure.
It is really impossible for educators to earn enough money to live a good life. Because the work they do is undervalued everywhere at every level in America, starting pay is appallingly low everywhere. Teachers enter employment weighed down by enormous debt, they earn very little, and the prices for rent, food, transportation, medical care, prescriptions, insurance, and just about everything else keep going up. Teachers can earn modest pay increases for graduate degrees and time in service, but depending on where they start, increases don’t amount to much.
Teachers have very little influence over their work environment and their work schedule, and administrators are constantly trying to squeeze more…