May 18, 2010
"Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Teachers"
When I was in Public school, I was crazy about my teachers. Like most little girls, I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to draw like my Art Teacher and tell stories as vividly as Ms. Weisssman...I wanted to play piano like Mr. C and sing like the Assistant Principal. I loved the sustenance of my teachers. I even wondered what Mrs. Rosen did 'all night' in the empty classroom when we went home. As a child, being a teacher meant being the one to stand in front of the classroom, hold the chalk, mark the homework, and give out the gold stars✩. I couldn't wait to get my first blackboard- and when my little brother was no longer a willing student, I lined up my most attentive stuffed audience kept on teaching.
As a third grade student, I remember when my teacher asked us to make ✎signs and stand outside of our school- Something about the city's budget cuts. Through a child's eyes, it seemed to me that someone, somewhere, didn't want to support our schools in the capacity that would sustain them. I recall being told that the person or people responsible for these cuts hadn't even attended the Public School System themselves. I wondered why we were on the verge of losing our wonderful Gym teacher and our Afterschool Program. Sound confusing for a child? As an adult, I am still confused.
As a NYC teacher, I have some questions for the "Kleinberg" team...When did TEACHERS drop so low on the food chain?
"When did the 'TEACHER' become the the least important component in the business of 'teaching?'
When did TEACHERS become the 'disposable' factor in a system that teaches?
When did TEACHERS become the scapegoats for everything that is wrong with our city's children?
When did terrorizing TEACHERS become an acceptable practice and why have the Kafka-esque Rubber-Rooms been allowed to thrive even ONE more day under the Kleinberg administration?
My mother always said, "Be a teacher. You'll have job security, a paid summer vacation, good health benefits, a pension and..... If you have children of your own, you will be home in time to cook dinner for them." I followed my mother's advice. At the time, it seemed like the perfect job for a woman who wanted to have the best of both worlds. I went to school and got my Bachelors Degree and then 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 a minute.
On my first day of teaching, I knew that I had found my calling. I remember thinking, "Wow, we get paid all day to be with children, ignite their minds, enrich their lives, fill them with knowledge and then get to leave at 3:00! I couldn't wait to return the next day. Compared to my last 9:00 to 7:00 job, this was indeed heaven. I was fortunate to work in a wonderful district and have a principal who cared about his teachers. He was a mensch. His support kept me going at times when I felt like giving up. I returned home every night eager to plan and prepare for the next day. I remember the relentless drive that I had to make my students shine.
It is 22 years later and thanks to technology, my students are finding me on Facebook, wanting to reconnect, eager to share their accomplishments. I was recently invited to a Wedding, a Christening and a family gathering by my former students. Who really knows how much influence we've had on a child's life in the one or two years that we get to spend with them? As far as I can see, there is no end. How does one measure the impact of true teacher effectiveness? There is no measure.
I never imagined that I'd live to eat my words. In spite of the horrible, heartless and harassing administrators, the "Billionaire" mentality, ungrateful, indifferent parents, 'kids gone wild' and Charter School 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.
Thanks to our "Education" Mayor, teaching is no longer a labor of love. According to the 'Kleinberg' regime, Teachers are robots, children are widgets and education is a business to be controlled by Hedge Fund Managers looking for a tax break. We are constantly 'cut down', restrained and intimidated by a system with a death wish.
I speak for myself and those among me who have been burned by a system that doesn't see any value in the very essence of education. There is no room for innovation or thinking outside of the box. Schools are being starved and creativity is completely stifled. The idea of
Most of us, having gone through the public school system ourselves, know that our children are being robbed of the education that we were given and that they deserve. The little girl in me cringes when I hear that my niece or my neighbor's daughter wants to go to college for Education. I have to restrain myself from bursting their illusory bubble. I gently suggest, "Why don't you study law, medicine, graphic design or perhaps, rocket science?"(Maybe growing up to be a 'cowboy' wouldn't be such a bad idea after all...)
I will say anything but, "It is not a good time to be a teacher", which truly breaks my heart most of all.