Monday, September 17, 2012

What Ever Happened of Doing it for the Kids?

Teachers are always whining about their pay. What ever happened to "doing it for the kids"?

The above argument, posted on the blog, has also been echoed by politicians, reporters, and citizens of Ontario as a way to somehow rationalize that teachers should not be able to fight to improve their working conditions, pay, or benefits.

This blogger takes two perspectives.

1. If concerned citizens, politicians and reporters are that concerned about "the kids" then why would you attack those who could, and can, impact them with daily "anti-teacher" rhetoric and legislation that strips them of their collective bargaining rights?  

Shouldn't you just pay them more?

Or, at the very least, focus your media coverage on the positives of teaching, great teachers, and the importance of this profession.

For example, if the Toronto Maple Leafs want to attract the best free agent player, they don't start by telling them how terrible they are, how they don't deserve raises, how they are the reason for the teams past failures etc.

You try to sell them on the job of being a Toronto Maple Leaf.

If you want to attract the very best teachers, while at the same time taking away their bargaining rights, shouldn't you at least try to sell them on the positives of the job?

When was the last time a major media outlet published something positive about teachers?  

2.  Teaching is a career.  People who become teachers know that they are working with kids, and they hope to make some sort of impact on children.  But they do it for the money.  Sure, they also may do it for the job satisfaction, or because it fits their lifestyle, but lets be honest here,  we live in a capitalist system.  You need money to survive.  You need money to prosper.  You need money to enjoy your life.

If a police officer was given two options:  1) stay a police officer with a significant reduction in benefits and salary  or 2) change to a career that pays significantly more more, with the same working hours, benefits, etc.  do you not think for a moment that they would switch?

Or at the very least fight for their existing rights so they could stay a police officer?

But somehow, because teachers work with kids, they are not supposed to fight for their rights?  They are not supposed to fight for the right to be paid similarly to other professions where the minimum requirements are 5 years of university?

And all because they are supposed to be "Doing it for (someone else's)  Kids?"

Does the bus driver not have the right to fight for their benefits because he is "doing it for his passengers?"

Does the politician volunteer his/her rights away because he is "doing it for his constituents?"

Does the warehouse worker decide not to take his mandatory breaks because he is "doing it for his corporation?"

Of course not.

But teachers are.


  1. YES! Thank you. I was reflecting on this over the weekend, and I realized that at no time did I, or any teacher I know, sign up for martyrdom. OK, that may be a thoroughly hyperbolic statement but really, I get so sick of "just do it for the kids'. Please! What do people think I do all day anyways, sharpen pencils and swat people who try to borrow my stapler? NO! I do my job,and like every other working person out there I look forward to payday so I can admire my bank account for 10 minutes before passing on my paycheque to the grocery store, gas station, car mechanic, VISA, etc. You know, all those businesses that people with "real jobs" work for? I love my job but it's just exactly that. My job. Other people work with kids too - like dentists, pediatricians, psychologists, piano teachers, acting coaches, etc. How many of them get guilted for not handing out freebie extras? I didn't swear an oath of poverty and obedience. That's a different calling, folks.

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  3. The pay scale of teachers would not be an issue if the union structure actually had some professional accountability (incentives and performance standards). If the good-for-nothing teachers could actually be weeded out from the most vibrant and brilliant educators, then certainly those left standing would be deserving of utmost respect and compensation.

    It is not hard to support GREAT TEACHERS deserving of excellent compensation, benefits and pension! Unfortunately, however, the union structure favors union loyalty and blind member "equality" above any number of actual standards that would directly benefit THE KIDS.

    I'm not against teachers being richly compensated, I'm against bad teachers blindly compensated and allowed to thrive quite comfortably just the same. The ones who really pay the price for bad teachers are THE KIDS.

  4. Teachers already have performance standards, ethical standards and regular performance reviews. As to giving incentives, how do you envision that? What's your definition of a good teacher and how would you measure it? I'm curious.

  5. How are teachers currently measured in their performance, and how does a teacher get fired (aside from ethical digressions)? I'm not familiar with the technicalities, but I do know that there are plenty of teachers out there who shouldn't be teachers. Some people just don't have what it takes. Because educators are so important to the next generation of individuals and society, this is one vocation that should not permit subpar candidates.

    A "good teacher" is certainly difficult to summarize in a nutshell, but off the top of my head some essential facets are (a) demonstrated and proven knowledge or background in the subjects they are teaching (b) ability to communicate ideas (c) willingness to encourage the continuous development of students in the classroom, not just impart them with facts.

    I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that teachers have a degree in the fields they teach -or- pass exams in the subjects they teach. They also should be evaluated based on the success of their students, and/or student feedback about their performance: if 90% of a student class ranks them abysmally, the teacher should be posted for a serious performance review, if not immediately suspended until further investigation. I suppose this sounds harsh?

  6. Let me preface my comment with a disclaimer; I am not, have never been, and will never be, a teacher.
    I totally disagree with a lot of your points Leslie. To measure teachers as being "good" and that student achievement and student evaluation be part of it (thoughi realize you didn't mention how much weight those should carry.) I do apologize to you and anyone else whom believe the opposite, but in all brutal honesty, not all kids can be 'anything they want'. I know that quite naively, we all used to believe that with the proper assistance, we could all do anything. Then we grew up. The fact is, some kids simply aren't smart enough (I hate saying that, but genetics play a part, and science proves it.) the best teacher in the world with the best resources in the world cannot make a kid with a 52 IQ become a rocket scientist. In your model, teachers would be punished for that and it's certainly well beyond their control. And as for student evaluation? No way. A perfectly suitable, intensely intelligent teacher would be suspended and have his job at risk due to students ranking him poorly because he was "boring"--wow, all history teachers could kiss their jobs away in the first year, and that's not getting into the angry girl having her seat moved away from her "bestie" and now hates the teacher, as well as the kid in detention for pinching another kid an thinking up new ways in which to despise his "horrible" teacher. And yes, that is precisely what happens when dealing with kids. They're kids being kids.
    As for getting rid of the "good for nothing" teachers? It sounds how do we get rid of all the good for nothings in every job field? I don't know about you, but I've seen people "just not cut out for it" in every single job. It's just as hard to get rid of all of them.
    In general, over the years I've seen so much vitriol hurled at teachers--after all, they're such easy targets. But you know, those people complaining can never answer a very simple question; if teachers have it so very good, if its so easy to become a teacher (indeed as someone tried to make a case that teacher don't need specialized training), and they get paid soooo much to do soooo little, then why on earth aren't they teachers?