How many times have you heard about the favorite teacher who greatly influenced a life? How many times have you heard about the teacher who motivated his or her students to the point where they actually enjoyed coming to class?
I submit and as a past school board member, know, that in addition to knowing the subject well, that teacher also knows how to punch the students’ buttons. That teacher has been taught how to handle the class, how to gain the pupils’ attention and how to have them develop a love for learning. That teacher is so valuable that she or he is asked to share the secrets and teach other teachers.
So it concerns me when political appointees override the elected state superintendent and move to allow product experts (also presumed political appointees) to obtain teaching licenses with a minimum of teacher training. Presumably the thinking is that if one has a college degree and is knowledgeable in a given area, one is able to teach. It’s possible that such a person may not be able to handle their own children.
There is no doubt there is always room for teacher improvement, but many top high school students are not choosing the field of education for their careers. And why should they? The average FWCS pay is just 51 percent above the poverty level for a family of four. After an advanced degree and many years in the system, a teacher might earn as much as $63,615, far less than the levels of other professionals and dozens of other fields that do not come close in terms of criticality.
Besides the weak income prospects, respect and social stature for teachers have been replaced with verbal and sometimes physical abuse or general apathy. Appreciation for the job is uncommon. Financial support of improved working environment is frequently resisted.
So if we are looking for more good teachers, it’s not going to be found in neophyte successful corporate executives. We have to make teaching as attractive a career as it was 50-60 years ago. We have to recognize how terribly important the job is and react accordingly.
Leonard M. Goldstein