Monday, August 25, 2008

Strike One!

Aaahhh, back to school sales, haircuts, and teacher strikes. They all beckon the start of school. It's common news fodder each year as teacher contracts are hammered out, eventually there is a school district that "has to" go on strike. This year it sounds like teachers in Bellevue, WA are in favor of such a motion by 94 percent. From local news reports the two major issues for teachers are compensation and district-mandated use of Web-based curriculum.

Everyone tends to agree that we can never really compensate our teachers adequately for a job we hope they are doing to the very best of their ability. It is always gut wrenching when you ask your child how their day at school was and they quickly answer you with any of the following; we watched some movie, we had a substitute and colored pictures, or we just played heads-up seven-up. What?! You sent your child into an institution of higher learning and they're walking out of the equivalent of the local grocery store childcare.

I remember the same things happening in the classroom when I was a kid though. The year we went to other 6th grade teacher's classroom for math and he had no management skills. Students spent the entire time throwing spit-wads on the class ceiling and this was with him in the room! There were the numerous times where the class would engage the high-school Spanish teacher into a 40 minute diatribe on his 67 Mustang laughing all the while at the holes in the armpits of his sweater. Or the well-known and over-used trick of students everywhere when seats were switched because there was a new substitute that day. It often times wasn't until after lunch that someone fessed up to the deception and things finally got straightened out but during that time everyone was distracted and giggled so much that it prevented any real learning from taking place.

At it's very best, regardless of how much you are paid, teaching can be the greatest job in the world or at its' very worst it can be horrible for everyone involved. So, in the end, compensation becomes a moot point to some degree since everyone is pretty upfront about not going into teaching for the money. As a teacher one has to rely on themselves to make the job worthwhile. I personally believe that either you are or you are not cut out to be a teacher, regardless of the training you receive in college.

It's interesting to look into the statistics of "education dollars". Only $.57 of every education dollar sees the classroom. Much the rest goes to administration and capital costs. There are tons of startling facts about the way money is spent in education (and it's not necessarily spent for the benefit of the kids...) but one glaring example of this is that in Ohio top union leaders had pay raises that increased 9-1 in comparison to teacher salaries.

In the meantime teacher's are compensated fairly well overall in comparison to let's say, law-enforcement (my husband is in this line of work). It's interesting to note that law-enforcement officers often have to work without a contract and can only hope to get compensated for the difference in pay from that time period - they are not allowed to strike. Isn't the education of our children just as important? Let's just hope that the teachers and administration involved in considering this strike will realize that it is the kids who suffer. If grown-ups could only learn to get along then maybe we could teach our children.

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket
Eagle patterned button blanket designed for beauty and warmth. To see more pictures of how he made this click on the picture above.

Rick Miller - Bohemian Rhapsody