Time to get political

2 Nov

Before I dive into my political rant for the year, let me urge you to do your civic duty and vote tomorrow. Even if you’re not sure about some of the candidates and/or propositions, get your little patootie to a polling place and vote on the ones of which you are at least a little bit sure.

As you probably know, I’m a teacher in a public school. How this election goes down tomorrow could have a huge impact on my life. If certain people are elected or certain proposition pass or fail, I could potentially lose my job. When I vote, I’m not thinking about how much I’m going to have to pay in taxes each year or if I get to smoke weed legally. I’m thinking about keeping my job. I’m thinking about the students who will lose their teachers. I’m thinking about who will control our schools.
I’m the first to admit that our school system is far from perfect. The teacher’s union is far too strong and as a result, some teachers who simply aren’t doing a good job are able to keep teaching for years and years. On the other hand, there is no simple answer here. Charter schools seem like a great option and as the movie Waiting for Superman and candidate for governor Meg Whitman will tell you, they are the answer to our problems. However, charter schools have their fair share of flaws. 
Let me tell you a little story about my friend Maggie*. Maggie was hired the same year I was. She taught in the same department as I did and was clearly one of the best teachers at our school. She got the, otherwise apathetic, students to love reading and writing through her creative use of technology (and blogs!). At the end of our second year of teaching, we both received RIF notices (or pink slips). While I was busy planning my wedding, she was busy getting hired at one of the largest and most successful charter schools in our neck of the woods (if not the whole country). When our RIFs got rescinded the week before the end of the school year, I was ecstatic to be able to stay at my school and not be unemployed. She decided that she didn’t want to burn the bridge she had just spent 3 months building at the charter school, so she left. Throughout the next school year, she taught with the same creativity and enthusiasm she always did, but she also stepped on a few toes with her out-of-the-box thinking. Apparently she stepped on the wrong toes because she was let go after that first year. Since she had left the district, she couldn’t return. Now she is at another charter school (probably happy and changing lives), but still at risk of being fired just because someone doesn’t like her.
The point is not that the teachers union should be destroyed and that all schools should go charter. The key is the attitude our society has toward teachers. Most people, including some people who I am very close to, do not respect the teaching profession. I can understand why. It doesn’t pay much, it doesn’t require very much schooling, the benefits are great… we must all be lazy, right? I think that in order for the problems in education to begin to be fixed, teachers need to be as respected as doctors and lawyers. I also think that being a teacher should require as much (if not more) schooling as being a doctor or lawyer AND in exchange for all the education (in addition to a much more competitive hiring process), teachers should be paid like doctors and lawyers. If teachers were paid more (and I mean way more), were required more schooling and training, and were put into competitive hiring situations, we would get some pretty amazing people as teachers. The best of the best would flock to the profession, right?
I know that the votes I cast tomorrow will not make all of this happen, but I know that electing people who think charter schools are the answer to all of our problems in education (*cough* Meg Whitman *cough*) will only make things worse. 
Please let me know what you think! While I’m passionate, I’m not closed-minded. I’d love to hear your opinions!
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

One Response to “Time to get political”

  1. MICHELLE November 2, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    I certainly see your point, and I do very much respect your position and your career as a teacher. I think its an amazingly admirable job and I agree teachers should be paid more, and require more training and schooling. However both candidates support Charter schools. Meg Whitman has never said she wants to get rid of the public school system altogether. She definitely wants to focus on Charter expansion, but so does Jerry Brown. He started two large Charter schools himself and raised $12M for them the Oakland Military Institute and the Oakland School for the Arts while he was mayor and is very proud of that.I think "Maggie" was just at the wrong school that didn't follow the same unconventional teaching methods as she. Its frustrating that some of the bad teachers and lazy teachers are protected by the teachers unions. Now Maggie has found a school that hopefully understands who she is as a teacher. Not every job has unions to protect them. As an insurance agent, I work hard to get recognition and keep my job, and I can be let go at any time if my work starts to slack or if the company and I no longer see eye to eye. Believe me, even though I work for my father, he lets me know every chance he gets at how disposible I am. This is why I work extra hard each and every day and I think all teachers should have to prove themselves and feel as disposable as most employees do. School's should be run just like any other business, and teachers who want to be paid the most and have job security, should work harder to get proper recognition, and do more schooling / get paid more for it.I love who you are and what you stand for, and that you speak your mind. I think you are an amazing teacher and person, and of coarse I want nothing more than your job security and well being. I wish everyone had as much passion and work ethic as you do, but unfortunately they don't. I voted for Meg Whitman, not because of her stance on the charter schools, but because I think we need conservative spending, and less government assistance to build our economy back up. While I did vote yes on Prop 19, there are much bigger issues that need to be worked up, but I love how everyone is so concerned with how I voted on Prop 19. Come on people! Let's focus on the real problems! I should turn this into my own blog post.Xoxoxo. Michelle

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