The following is a submission from an educator as part of the Your Soapbox feature, which explores the experiences of educators in North Carolina through their own words. Check out more first person stories here, or if you are an educator, submit your own.
I can’t blame the Legislature Alone…
I am a media coordinator at a middle school. For those of you going, “A media what-now?” a more descriptive term is teacher-librarian. And I am getting out at the end of the year, if I don’t find another job before then.
My middle school is amazingly diverse, with a lot of great teachers. The administration does what it can to support the teachers. If you are not a teacher or on the leadership team, I often feel as if you get the bums rush. You just aren’t relevant. And I can’t blame just the administration. Their attitudes are a direct reflection of society.
And what is true for the micro-community is true for the macro-community. Teachers are not valued because society does not value them. It is a vicious cycle. The legislature does not value public education, so their constituents don’t value their schools and teachers. The legislature then points to their constituents lack of trust and value, saying they are only looking out for “their people.” Parents have said to my principal, “Teachers are parasites.” This vicious cycle has seeped into every part of our culture.
“The Middle” sitcom had clip where the dad was talking to a school official about problems his child was having and he made a comment “Isn’t that your job? You take care of them during the day?” We are glorified babysitters to many people in the community. I know of a Kindergarten teacher who was having a parent-teacher conference, discussing ways the parents could help their child to learn to read, and the parents said, “That’s your job.”
It gets worse when you have so few options for discipline. I am in no way advocating for corporal punishment, but I have been yelled at for giving children an in-school-suspension. My fellow teachers and I have been told that we cannot give out-of-school suspensions, because we need to reduce that number. A baby-sitter has more disciplinary power than I do as a teacher. And what slays me is that students love watching Dance Moms and cheer when Abby tells students how awful they are. But teachers get in trouble for trying to direct students to behave appropriately, respectfully? I had give the one student tell me, “But Abby is paid to yell at them.” While I am not paid to yell at them, my job is to give them the skills they need to be a working, contributing member of society. Yet our hands are tied in so many ways.
We want to be globally competitive students, but simply refuse to enable teachers to do so. Thanks, society. Thanks a lot.
-Frustrated Media Coordinator