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Virginia Harper

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Teachers are called not hired.

Teaching may or may not be a profession worth pursuing anymore since the profession is apparently no longer respected. Great teachers are called. That idea seems to be lost on our current culture. WE can't just manufacture great teachers. There has to be an intuitive call to the profession.

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    Mar 30 2011: Janelle I hear you. I take exception to the term "fancy benefit package." Here in the Sunshine State I'll be lucky to retire with 50% of my pay. Do you know anyone who can live on less thant 25,000 a year well and fancy? Medical care? Well I, NOT THE STATE, pay almost $300 dollars a month for my medical care and that's just for me. Someone tell me how that is fancy? The starting pay for ateacher in Floridais about mid 30,000. Add in the FANCY benefits and bump it up toabout$45,000. AFter 30 years of teaching, the ending pay isn't so great either. So, Lynne, how about those fancy apples. I believe you are quoting statistics for top school administrators or those that were padded fgor teachers who stay the full 30 years. If they stay the full 30 years they deserve every bit of over $70,000.
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      Mar 31 2011: What is this word 'fancy' that krept into this converstion? Virginia, I'm sorry you're unhappy with 50% of pay when you're no longer working. Wish I had that. Anyway, enough. We're miles apart in our thinking.

      I really do hope that everyone get's at least some of what they want. As the Rolling Stones sing, "You can't always get want you want, but you get what you need". Especially in America, we seem to be able to get what we need.
      • Apr 4 2011: have you ever worked in a classroom? just curious. I can spend 3 hours in my kids classroom and I'm as tired as an 8 hour day at my job. Just wondered if you'd tried it.
        that said, I have no pension, no medical insurance for myself, no sick days, no vacation days...so I get a little tired of the teachers who are always on about it. They should be paid well, they are hugely important to our nation. But also, the schools should be funded and the money should be spent wisely. Merit pay is ridiculous. You can't measure what they do, its kids, and learning. Check out Finland- they don't even test and they score the highest.
        And the Stones song works for me, and I'm lucky enough to feel called to what I do so I keep on.
  • Mar 27 2011: As a professional educator, I take exception. Yes, there are bad teachers, as well as nurses, doctors, scientists, farmers and cleaners of bathrooms. There are also exceptional ones, who in all of these occupations when they were "called", took up the challenge. Any one of us can be fired; there are no guarantees and each of us has chosen, for whatever reasons, to pursue our passion with its risks and benefits. In defense of Ms. Harper, as a Floridian in one of the professions most under attack by our current legislators over the past month, the saving grace is when we are respected by our students. There is little evidence of that being the case elsewhere, including in these posts. As this continues to be evident to young people, is it any surprise if they fail to value not only their teachers, but their education as well? And that, in my humble opinion, is the worst lesson any of us can teach by example. Per the discussion about salaries - every public employee's salary scale is posted online. National averages of nurses, doctors, scientists, farmers and custodians are likewise available. Anyone with the internet and elementary skills can do the math. I left teaching and returned - not because of summers off, a stress-free job, the fancy benefit package, lunches with colleagues or the pay check. I was called to teach and as a teacher, as one of "us" has said, what I make is 'a difference'. Do you?
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      Mar 29 2011: The regulations are so onerous that principals rarely even try to fire a teacher. Is this not true?

      And you ask, do I make a difference? Just because I'm not a paid teacher, does not mean I don't teach. Do I make a difference . . . I try.
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    Mar 25 2011: Completely disagree on all counts.

    How about nurses and doctors? How about scientists? How about farmers?

    If you're at good at any profession, you'll be respected. If you're not good, you'll be fired. Except teachers, I guess.
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      Mar 25 2011: I know a lot of bad doctors, and famers that put out infected crops. I think that farm that produce those bad eggs in Iowa is still in business. Not to mention the banks that sold bad loans to so many people, and yet they still get huge pay checks.

      The point being is that there are a lot of people who are bad at what they do, and do not get fired. Not to mention there are many teachers that get fired for being bad teachers.

      It is a known fact that even good teachers are not respected the same way that they are in other countries. If they were, they would be paid more.
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        Mar 26 2011: Give me a break, Paul. Good teachers in America are not respected?? You know a lot of bad doctors?? And you don't like our farmers either??

        You think there are a lot of people who are bad at what they do and do not get fired? Check out your local small businesses. I think you'll find just the opposite.

        You know who ought to get paid more . . . people who clean bathrooms.
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    Apr 5 2011: As a High School student, I believe teachers are undervalued and harangued by much of society. The majority of my teachers work hard and are very bright individuals who bring a sense of optimism into the classroom. Teachers are constantly bombarded with complaints from parents and are inundated with problems from students and teachers alike. Unfortunately, teachers don't control state requirements and can't change the curriculum to fit each individuals needs. I think society as a whole should have more respect for the effort most teachers put in on a daily basis. Teachers work for decades and receive pensions once they put in 30+ years of teaching. I understand that most people don't receive pensions once they retire. However, more generous teacher pensions were created to attract more intelligent individuals. Shouldn't intelligent individuals who go into an undervalued career get a satisfactory pension? Teachers are rewarded by the government for making the difference in the lives of hundreds of kids. The problem is not the pension. The problem (particularly in California) is that states are taking away millions of dollars from education. As a result, many young and enthusiastic teachers are being fired. I feel like many of the younger teachers are more personable and technologically adept. This year, 15 of my teachers were pink slipped. Many of them won't be coming back next year. Collective bargaining is truly a shame. The most talented teachers in the classroom should get to keep their jobs regardless of their stature. To see many of the intellectually stimulating teachers leave is a shame. The public education system is falling apart. I told my parents that in 20 years public education will be a thing of the past.
  • Apr 4 2011: I am a parent at a public school in California where we agree to work a number of hours per year (147 for our family with 2 kids) and we also are expected to donate $300 per kid per year. California schools are totally underfunded and I grew up in them as well, so its no news to me, and terribly sad.
    As a parent I get that teachers feel so discouraged right now, maybe its an all time low, not sure. But I'm having trouble understanding, is it the media, is it us as parents and kids, is it the Capitol of your state? I feel that in my community we support our teachers with so much. But it feels like many teachers feel disappointed in us, and like no one cares what they do. Our voters even keep voting for taxes to go to the schools, but the schools don't see the money after Sacramento gets done with their shenanegans.
    So, my question is, is there a fight? I imagine after an average week in the classroom you may be just plain exhausted and all the fight out of you, but aren't you all in a union for a reason? Isn't part of the reason to have a say over your working conditions? I just don't see teacher's unions standing in solidarity with labor, and honestly, am pro labor, but have no idea what is the purpose of these unions. Nobody has the power that you all have as teachers, and yet I hear you feeling beaten. We have 5 furlough days this year, what about a state walk out day to show solidarity with this national debate about state workers. What about a national walk out day?
    The kids really need our nation to spend on their education. We are trying as parents to give all we have on every front. But I feel really disappointed that so many teachers I know dwell in feelings of defeat instead of using already organized systems to stand up. Its a downward spiral when you give up. I wish the message to me from my PTO was, we can do this, we are creative, and we will continue to run an enriching program no matter what because we are together in community.
  • Mar 31 2011: I had no idea teachers weren't respected. My daughter is a teacher. She adores her work, loves her kids -- even those who are a pain in the butt -- gets paid pretty well, and has yet to receive a bad rating from any of her students' parents. (She teaches in a private school in which the parents get to rate the teachers based on their kids' comments, the results, and parent-teacher interviews.) She never went into teaching for the money but just because that is what she wanted to do.

    My son went to a public school. I thought a couple of his teachers were great, some kind of OK, and others useless -- pretty much like any other segment of the population.

    Is the situation in the US that different from here in Canada?
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    Mar 31 2011: platitutdes platitudes Lynne, sounds like you caved in too early and can't think of anymore analysis. Sorry you can't seem to get what you want or need either. Sounds like you wish you had some of our fancy benefits....
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    Mar 30 2011: Ok, so firing teachers is burdensome? Not so. Principals can fire teachers, yes even union service cntract teachers for any number of reasons. Union negotiated contracts protect teachers from being fired for being too fat, too old, not dressed well enough, and speaking their minds. Very few teachers need to be fired for those reasons and their are enough checks and balances to fire teachers who really aren't teaching which is rarely the case. So if a teacher doesn't earn merit pay, you want them fired. Wow, I say if a teacher doesn't earn merit pay, students should be expeelled. Are you a teacher Lynne?
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    Mar 29 2011: i agree with your statement that teachers are called not hired in a sense that learning happens when students are convinced that teachers are really dedicated in their learning. great teachers cant be manufactured and i believe great teaching can be learnt and nurtured just like the way students make progresses.i can see the importance of calling in teaching which outflows the passions and creativities and thank you for sharing this.Virginia
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    Mar 28 2011: Teacing is a calling. If it ween't, who would do it for the pittance pay?
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      Mar 29 2011: Pittance pay? Have you looked at the benefits that accompany the pay?

      Wisconsin teachers earned an average of $75,587 in total compensation in 2010. Can you tell me what it is for Florida?
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    Mar 28 2011: Life is throughout a learning phase. We all teach and learn from eachotehr to make our life better than before. Respect for all and respected from all. I believe you are right with your statement of 'teachers are called, not hired"

    Cheers
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    Mar 25 2011: I agreee.

    The best teachers are those who honestly care about their students, and not just for the test score. It is hard to make someone care.
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    Mar 24 2011: Do you mean that teachers need to feel 'a call' to teach? or that pupils need to want to learn? or maybe I missed your point :)