Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Angel and The Devil

It is so aggravating to be a teacher who does what he or she is actually supposed to do because the constant inferiority of the teachers who do the bare minimum or worse day in and day out is always in your face. I like to picture the angel and the devil on my shoulders. The angel is the rare student who appreciates your efforts in the moment (Many, many students appreciate your efforts as a teacher, but they often never realize this until they are adults with children themselves.), and the devil is a P.E. teacher.

Okay, P.E. teachers, take a time out. That was just an example. But, all teaching jobs are not created equally. I get paid the same amount of money as a P.E. teacher. I teach English. I grade papers constantly, and my students must be proficient readers and writers to succeed academically in future grades and as members of this society. I'm not saying the physical education isn't valuable, but I am asking which is more valuable? Shouldn't we be paid like most people are paid: based on the value of the service we are providing?

Back to the angel and the devil for a moment. There is a P.E. teacher at the high school where I teach who has a reputation of being a "witch" because she assigns reading and homework related to physical education and health, etc. Obviously, she is on the angel side of my pathetic metaphor. There are also several English teachers who are on the devil side. There is one friend of mine who has a planning period during the last hour of the school day. She leaves school early every single day, and she has been known to reschedule parent conferences so that she can continue to leave early. God forbid a meeting with parents interfere with what big plans she has made for herself at 1:45 in the afternoon on a work day.

I was reading about a school chancellor in Washington D.C. named Michelle Rhee in The Atlantic Magazine ( who wants that school district to go to merit pay. Of course that pay would be based solely on data. I approve of merit pay as long as there are multiple measurement tools in addition to data. For example, my friend who leaves work early every single day should not maintain her current level of pay regardless of the data she provides for the school. There has to be some utilization of data because any reasonable educator can recognize the need for data measurement, but there also have to be other performance-related measures.

Bottomline: we have to stop wasting our students' resources on the devils out there. We have to pay teachers equal to the value they are providing in the school and for the students. We have to make the job of teaching respected. The best way to do that is to get rid of the losers.

No comments:

Post a Comment