16 April 2010

Money, Power, Respect: None of the Above

Ever since I was younger, I have wanted to be a teacher. My mother was my teacher for the first part of my school years. Up until the fifth grade, I was homeschooled. Currently, I am a senior in college at the age of nineteen. Throughout my elementary years, my mother had had her own private school, which consisted of probably fifty students, all of which had skipped at least one grade. Almost all of the students who attended the school are very close friends of mine to this day. Sometimes, when I run into people who went to the school, or their parents, they always ask the same things, “Aren’t you Ms. Bland’s daughter? How are you doing now?”

Although it was strange having my mother for a teacher, I learned a lot while attending her school. By the time I had reached public school in fifth grade, I had been tested at a seventh grade level. To this day, I thank my mother for having the desire to teach people. For this reason, I want to be a teacher. Maybe wanting to help people is in my genes. I am not sure, but I know that that has always been what I wanted to be.

As life is not always easy, becoming a teacher is becoming more of a test of one’s desire to help others. Pay cuts—not a term that many want to hear, but are forced to accept. The debate began years ago, but is now beginning to become more heated as the next academic school year is nearing. Teachers are being asked to make a choice, be laid off or take a pay cut. Although the amount of the pay cut differs amongst school districts and states, it is still a pay cut nonetheless. I understand that the economy is not in the greatest shape, but teachers, really? Real teachers are not only individuals that stand in front of a classroom full of students and spurt out knowledge for them to memorize until the summer. Teachers spend almost more time with their students than their own families. Teachers are supposed to see their students as more than what is on their record. They see their students when they get their hearts broken at recess, they notice when students are struggling in a certain subject, they offer their shoulders to cry upon when their parents are at work, and they write letters of recommendation in support of a brighter future for their students. Teachers encourage and educate those who want to become lawyers, doctors, architects, athletes, and more. Although teachers do so much more than this, their worth is significantly less than people in other fields.

While I am in no way downplaying anyone’s occupation, I feel like teachers should not have to sacrifice their pay checks considering all of their duties. As Song, president of the CUSD Student Association for Teachers, says, "One of the biggest problems is what the salaries represent and that's respect." Athletes are entertainers, and making millions a year, compared to teachers who take on the responsibility of academically raising children. This symbolizes the government’s and society’s lack of respect for the people who are seeing and guiding their children eight hours a day, five days a week.

On April 2nd, 2010, 16-year old David Song had organized a walk out in opposition to the 10.1% teacher pay cut imposed on all 23,000 Capistrano Unified teachers. About 400 students at Aliso Niguel High School participated, carrying signs reading STUDENTS SUPPORT TEACHERS and WE NEED TEACHERS NOT BOARDS. Students who missed assignments were told to make up the work during lunch or an afternoon tutorial period. In response to the walk out, Principal Charles Salter says, “There will be consequences for their actions.” However, I am unsure if the consequences are for walking out or for what they were supporting.

I must admit, I am not fully educated in the economy, but I do not understand why teachers, who must go through an extensive process to become a teacher and help educate the future generations, have to suffer pay cuts. Yet, the people who gain an education and a mentor reap the benefits of an education. One participant of the walk out, Michelle Spotskey asks, “Why would they work their hardest if this is going to happen to them?" While being a teacher often has its downsides, teachers work their hardest because they get joy out of knowing that they are harvesting future greatness.


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