March 29, 2008

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Teachers...

When I was in grade school, I idolized my teachers. Like most little girls, I wanted to be just like Mrs. Benner, my second grade teacher or an artist like Mrs. Savage... I loved the attention of my teacher. When she said to do something, I did it. I believed everything she said and watched everything she did. I even wondered what she did 'all night' in the classroom when we went home. As a child, being a teacher meant being the one to hold the chalk, mark the homework, and give out the gold stars. I couldn't wait to get my first blackboard- and when I did, I lined up my most attentive stuffed audience and taught away.

As a NYC teacher, I have some questions for the "Kleinberg" team...

" When did the 'teacher' become the the least important component in the business of 'teaching?'

When did teachers drop so low on the food chain?

When did teachers become the 'disposable' factor in a system that teaches?

When did teachers become the scapegoat for everything that is wrong with our city's children?

When did terrorizing teachers become an acceptable practice? Why is Reassignment the Biggest and best kept Secret of the NYCDOE?

My mother always said, "Be a teacher. You'll have a secure job, a paid summer vacation, health benefits and a pension." I followed my mother's advice. I went to school and got my masters degree in education. I spent 5 years in night school working toward earning 30 credits above my masters. I never doubted my direction for one minute. On the first day that I began to teach, I knew that I had found my calling. I remember thinking, "Wow, we get paid all day to be with children, enrich their lives, fill them with knowledge and then get to leave at 3:00! I couldn't wait to come back. Compared to my last 9 to 7 job, this was heaven. I returned home every night with lesson plans to write, homework to prepare and a relentless drive to make my students shine. I never imagined that I'd live to eat my words...
I have been a NYC teacher for 22 years. In spite of those horrible, heartless and harrassing administrators, ungrateful, indifferent parents and 'kids gone wild' politics, I do feel that I have been able to make a difference. I know in my heart that I have touched lives, instilled good values and provided lifelong lessons. However, that day has finally come, the one where I eat my words. Thanks to our Mayor, Teaching is no longer a labor of love. I speak for myself and those among me who have been burned by a system that doesn't value the very essence of education. As for creativity, uniqueness, years of 'bending over backward' experiences, late night cramming, planning and thinking outside of the box, there is no more room in the NYCDOE for me.
The security part- it's all a myth. The glorified benefits are being cut down everyday. Health insurance plans(getting more expensive) -TDA's- The Unnattainable Sabbaticals- Tenure (also at risk) -and ahhh, summers off... Why should we complain? Why because we pay our dues royally all year round. We pay with our hearts and our souls. We give up our lunch hours, weekends and overall sanity. We are constantly 'cut down', restrained and intimidated by a system with a death wish.

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