May 21, 2023: Swimming Upstream- Why Teachers are Exhausted
It happened again last week. We were at a dinner party some friends were hosting. There were some out-of-state visitors there that we met for the first time. Although currently living across the country, they shared that they loved Florida and hope to relocate here soon.
Our hostess said how wonderful that would be, then stopped and added, “Except our schools s&*%$.”
There it was. Again. Yes, this friend is clearly aware that I am a life-long educator. And no, this friend has no first-hand experience with Florida Public schools, as she has never had children in school here. She has simply accepted the rhetoric that circulates that schools and teachers are ineffective and failing. This sentiment is certainly not limited to Florida. Listen to any politician or scan any newspapers and you will be inundated with headlines and sound bites decrying the state of public education.
According to an NPR/Ipsos Poll, while parents overwhelmingly list education as a top concern, 88% also respond that their child’s schools/teachers are doing a good job. “By wide margins – and regardless of their political affiliation – parents express satisfaction with their children's schools and what is being taught in them.”
So what then, is all the noise about? Teachers, and apparently many parents, know that schools do not s$%#*. There is amazing work going on every single day in classrooms across the state, and across the country. So what is the disconnect?
Are there challenges and issues with public education? Absolutely. Do we have children with academic knowledge and skill gaps that need to be remediated? Yes. Do we have children coming to school with a wide range of social and emotional issues? Certainly. Are we are underfunded? Most definitely. And this results in not just poor teacher pay, but in inadequate resources and materials, all of which could help to solve so many of these other challenges.
The fact is, the vast majority of the things that people criticize about our schools, are out of the teachers’ control. They are even out of the school administrator’s control. State Education Standards, curriculum materials, building repair and upkeep. Every single one of these things is controlled by the very politicians who are currently demonizing teachers and vilifying schools. The politicians determine the state standards for each subject and content area, and then tell the public that teachers are teaching things they shouldn’t be. They invent “issues”, point to teachers/schools as the cause, then propose fixes that do more harm than good.
In this constant state of swimming against this manufactured current, teachers are exhausted. So, as this school year wraps up, please tell all of the teachers in your life, that you appreciate all they are doing.