The classroom is finally set. The desks and chairs are organized into perfect rows waiting for the new students to arrive.
The Teacher worked through the summer to make sure everything was perfect. Nothing is out of order and lesson plans are set. Even the teacher’s desk is clean, the one and only time it will be that organized until after the school year has ended.
Teachers are valuable assets to the community. They teach the next generation of students and train them to be responsible adults. By the time a student graduates high school, they’re working on making one of the biggest decisions in their young life—college.
Teachers are the voice of reason. They challenge students to think outside-the-box. Creativity is a must in the school system as every student has a different personality and story to tell.
Yet, there is a problem. There has been a steady decline in teachers in the United States. California has been hit the worst with a decrease of more than 50% between 2008 and 2013. States like Texas, Michigan, and Wisconsin have also experienced a significant drop in teachers. And it continues to get worse.
Every year on October 5, World Teacher’s Day is celebrated. World Teacher’s Day started in 1994 as a result of the concern of historically low amounts of teachers and their mistreatment.
There are many reasons why there has been a decline in teachers in the United States. Here are the top three:
Teachers are valued for their work. They work with a broad range of personalities and races. They teach every student regardless of what level the student is. Teachers are required to teach state standards (like Common Core) while teaching the fundamentals of learning.
|Common Core Logo - education.vermont.gov|
Even with all a teacher does, we pay them less money and respect than other professions. This is one reason why the United States has less teachers every year.
The work a teacher does is hard to understand without living it. In the last 20 years, teachers have been attacked by value-added measures (VAM). Many “highly qualified” teachers are under immense pressure because of statewide standardized testing.
Though the concept was made to increase academic standards, unintended consequences have occurred. Schools can be punished if student achievement scores are low, even if the teacher taught the student well and all the information.
For example, I went through the math portion of the statewide standardized testing my sophomore year of high school. My Geometry teacher taught my class well and many succeeded. When the statewide standardized test came my teacher did something she shouldn’t have.
She allowed all her students to have flash cards with cheat-cheats on it. We could write as much as we wanted on the flash card and use the flash card while taking the standardized test. Even though my Geometry teacher taught brilliantly, she worried about her well-being because of the test.
This doesn’t mean that she wasn’t a “highly qualified” teacher. This was one of the unintended consequences of the VAM and standardized testing.
For decades, teachers have been asked to do something beyond their control—fix poverty. There has been much research done on statewide standardized testing saying that achievement scores from students in poor communities are lower than students from wealthy communities.
According to David A. Gamson, a professor of education at Pennsylvania State University, if we want to encourage smart, creative, passionate individuals to enter the teaching ranks, we must insist that they receive the respect, autonomy and intellectual freedom they deserve.
Education is crucial in the United States and around the world. Without education and the brilliant teachers, the creative thought of students may linger in the background. Without the valuable information taught in school, I wouldn’t have learned how this planet works or how the world struggles. I wouldn’t have learned how to paint or to write. My dream to raise awareness of Scleroderma, recycling, and endangered animals may have never happened.
Learning isn’t something that we want, it’s something we need. Stand with teachers, not against them. They’re part of the delicate balance of being human. This is why I’m working towards being an English teacher. I hope to one day teach in a foreign country.
Stand up for what you believe in and use your voice. You will be heard. You will make a difference!
I paint to raise awareness to three main topics. Feel free to check out my Etsy page: StormyEyeDesign. With every item sold, I’ll donate $10 to the Scleroderma Research Foundation, so I can be a part of the hope that one day there will be a cure.