Today is the last day of teacher appreciation week, and I’ve decided to dedicate a post in honor of a week that goes mostly unnoticed among people.
The american public education system. Fucked over by state and local governments and underrepresented at the federal level. Some states/cities have it worse than others, such as Florida or Detroit, MI , but there’s a national pattern of education being pushed to the side in lieu of other issues.My state, Florida, for instance, has failed in bettering our education system and public schooling. Our governor Voldemo- I mean Rick Scott- along with the republican congress, has implemented harsher budget cuts to education spending, restrictions on teacher salaries, and introduced frivolous extras.
For example, there is the “Best and the Brightest Scholarship”, introduced by Scott, which allocates a certain amount of money to teachers who scored at the 80th percentile or higher on their ACT/SAT exams. And the amount allocated? 44 million dollars- that is about 10,000 dollars each, assuming 4,402 teachers qualify. 44 million dollars and with it, the recipient can do whatever he/she pleases. Yes, let’s allow a score received 20 years ago, to determine a teacher’s abilities and then let’s give them money for it. That 44 million dollars could go into public school funding, busing, salaries, etc. I volunteer for Carlos Smith, who’s running to represent his district in the florida house, and one of his donors is actually a guy who recieved the scholarship, was disgusted by it, and gave the money to Carlos. This scholarship was recently given an extension by the senate and people are calling on Scott to veto it.
The “Best and the Brightest” is only one of the many screwups in Florida’s education system. There are the increasingly popular voucher programs which cheat public schools out of funding and students, the hardly regulated for-profit charter schools, and the dependence on standardized testing.
Through all of this, teachers can’t catch a break. It’s enraging to see teachers, particularly public school teachers, reduced to demeaning pay and minimal resources. My mom is a teacher and has worked at some of the toughest schools in our area- Pinellas County. She went back to teaching a few years ago, and one of the first schools she taught at was an F school, across the street from the projects in the south side. It was really hard on her; I remember in the beginning, she’d come home stressed, crying and exhausted. She loved her kids and she put all her effort into giving them a quality learning experience. But there were the kids that threw desks and told her about their dads being in jail, and there were the parents that would scream in her face, and there were the pressures to meet benchmarks.
Relating standardized test scores to teachers’ salaries? Changing benchmarks and tests on the daily? Limiting public school teachers’ access to resources because of harsh budget cuts? It’s terrible and so frustrating for not just my mom, but for all of the other teachers out there who actually give a fuck about their job and have a passion for their kids. Politicians have no place in the classroom. These kids in public schools, especially ones from low socio-economic backgrounds with hardly any support at home, are not just a test score; their intelligence is not what they scored on the FSA. And politicians in the pan handle should not be deciding a teacher’s performance value and salary, based on those test scores. My mom worked her ass off to prep those kids for the tests, but there’s only so much a teacher can do. The rest is up to the individual student and their family.
Teaching is one of the most important jobs in the world; teachers lay the foundation for an educated society and pave the way for young minds to grow. Yet they are undervalued by society. How is it not completely twisted when sports players make millions and put on pedestals, while teachers are payed next to nothing and hardly rewarded. Many of the teachers my mom knows, have two jobs; one works at a restaurant on the weekends. This woman is a full-time professional teacher, but she still works at her highschool job on the side to make ends meet. And yet, they are still there everyday, working to build their kids’ educatons, hoping to light a fire in at least one mind.
So I say to all the teachers I have had and all the teachers out there fighting this uphill battle, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve had teachers who’ve inspired me, armed me with knowledge, and given me their friendship. And I will continue to do my part by raising awareness about education issues in my own community. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!