Teach­ers share feel­ings about fu­ture of public ed

The Catoosa County News - - OBITUARIES -

My re­cent open let­ter to Ge­or­gia’s public school teach­ers pro­duced as much re­sponse as I have re­ceived in a long time. Teach­ers from one end of the state to the other have weighed in and the com­ments are still com­ing.

To put it mildly, many class­room teach­ers are frus­trated and down­right an­gry with all the po­lit­i­cal and bu­reau­cratic med­dling, in­clud­ing an ob­ses­sion with testing more than teach­ing, a lack of re­spect for an hon­or­able pro­fes­sion and a fear that if some­thing isn’t done soon to fix the prob­lem, find­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of teach­ers will be all but im­pos­si­ble.

One ed­u­ca­tor wrote to say, “I re­cently re­tired from 18 years of teach­ing fu­ture teach­ers. I have been so dis­traught about the state of our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in Ge­or­gia for many years, but es­pe­cially the last few, that I have now found it very dif­fi­cult to en­cour­age stu­dents to get into the pro­fes­sion that I have loved and sup­ported for my en­tire life. That is one of the rea­sons that I re­tired. I could no longer tell stu­dents to fol­low their pas­sion into this world that for most of them will be ex­haust­ing, frus­trat­ing and ridicu­lously chal­leng­ing.”

An­other noted, “I am one of those teach­ers who put ev­ery­thing into my job. I re­signed this year, five years short of re­tire­ment be­cause I just can’t take it any­more. It has be­come over­whelm­ing. There is less and less time for plan­ning and grad­ing and do­ing those lit­tle things that goes into great teach­ing. If I can’t teach my best then I won’t do it.”

An­other said, “I’m sadly just count­ing down the days un­til sum­mer each year and re­tire­ment in a few years — if I can even make it that far. My job used to be a true joy, back in the day when I was ac­tu­ally able to teach us­ing tried and true meth­ods and not just to a test — when I was re­spected as a pro­fes­sional and left alone so I could teach.”

“I sat at my com­puter and tried not to cry over your words,” a teacher wrote me. “It is hard to ex­plain but your words hit home. This ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem is bro­ken. And as you stated so well, so is our so­ci­ety, and there­fore it is hard to main­tain the hope of things get­ting bet­ter. Hope that things can get back on track and ed­u­ca­tion — not testing — will be placed front and cen­ter again.”

An­other wrote, “I pray ev­ery day that I will make a pos­i­tive im­pact-even when I don’t see the re­sult of my ef­forts. Lately, how­ever, my thoughts and prayers have been rid­dled with de­spair. I am not sim­ply end-of-the-school-year weary; I am over­whelm­ingly de­spon­dent about a job I have al­ways loved.”

A for­mer public school teacher who taught high school English for 39 years said, “I am ex­tremely con­cerned about the fate of public ed­u­ca­tion in Ge­or­gia. I have never seen such a ridicu­lous fo­cus on stan­dard­ized tests and testing. It is ab­so­lutely ab­surd when the en­tire month of May is taken up by stan­dard­ized tests in one form or an­other. Enough is enough! Teach­ing to the test — and what else do teach­ers pos­si­bly have time for — may pro­duce ad­e­quate test scores. It is not teach­ing think­ing, de­spite what some are try­ing to say.”

A re­cent col­lege grad­u­ate who is al­ready off to an im­pres­sive start in her ca­reer, wrote, “My heart breaks a lit­tle ev­ery time I visit my high school teach­ers and see how many changes are neg­a­tively im­pact­ing them. Th­ese are the peo­ple who have truly in­spired and molded me into who I am to­day, and I want them to have the op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue to do so for count­less other stu­dents for years to come. I was so moved by your ar­ti­cle, I sent an email to one of my high school teach­ers thank­ing him and in­cluded the link to your ar­ti­cle.”

For those of you who think our public school teach­ers are a bunch of whin­ers, I have a sug­ges­tion. Spend a cou­ple of weeks in their shoes and then tell me how you could do it bet­ter, given all the ob­sta­cles that are thrown in their path.

While you are do­ing that, I will con­tinue to keep an eye on the deep­pock­eted, out-of-state ide­o­logues and their wide-eyed po­lit­i­cal syco­phants who trash public ed­u­ca­tion in their own self-in­ter­est. For them, it’s not about the kids. It’s about power and con­trol. And money. Al­ways the money.

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