Monday, February 21, 2011

The Education Boogeyman

You know what a boogeyman is? A myth. A fairy tale. A folk story told to scare people, children usually. The boogeyman doesn't exist. Oh, bad people exist in the world. However, bad people are not the majority. The majority of people are not waiting in the bush behind your house to shank you.

Just like the "real world" has false boogeymen meant to instill fear and doubt in the world, there exists a boogeyman in education. Who is this myth? The bad teacher. Just like there are real bad people in the world, there are real bad teachers. It's not entirely made up. However, the idea of a large population of bad teachers relying on unions to remained hired is at best laughable, and at worst down right ignorant and obnoxious. Bad teachers exist. They are not the majority. And they don't last long.

Teaching is not a job you get into for the paycheck. If you are in it for the paycheck, you are seriously in the wrong profession. We really do not make that much money, especially when you take into account our early, and long, hours. The idea of getting paid my salary to be a bad teacher sounds like hell on earth. Why? Because I can think of nothing worse than willingly going into a classroom filled with students I hate that I cannot control. It's about as fun and effective as trying to catch bubbles with a baseball mitt. Teachers that are bad or ineffective burn out quickly and usually leave the building in tears.

Bad  teachers exist. They do. They burn out. They leave. They give up. They usually don't even make it to getting hired! You see, you have to pass student teaching, when you work as an actual teacher, but for free. Bad teachers? Yeah, they don't make it out of that alive and still believing teaching is for them usually.

There are ineffective teachers. Teachers who are thrown into classrooms with little preparation or support. Teachers with no parental or community support. Teachers who do not have someone they can look to for advice or help. These are not bad teachers. These are good, hard working people who can get better if someone would help them.

And finally, unions do not support or protect bad teachers. Teachers who are performing poorly or doing actual harm to students are not who unions protect. Unions protect teachers who have been wrongly accused. Unions protect students from overloaded classes. Unions protect teachers who get pregnant, become ill or have some other issue that will remove them from the classroom for an extended time. Unions protect those who would not be able to protect themselves. Bad teachers? I don't want them in my union. I don't want them in my school. And the union doesn't want them either. Ultimately, the union keeps the teachers' best interests. And what are our best interests? Students.

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