Supporting Our Teachers
Looking for Soldiers
by Eileen Eady
Recently I got my current issue of "Education Matters" a monthly publication from the Association of American Educators. I was disappointed to find such a negative publication toward teachers. This is my letter to the managing editor.
Teachers all over the country are under attack. We are barraged with parent complaints, threats of test scores being used to determine employment, and pressure to bring students up to grade level who come to us behind. We are in a war, and in times of war it is imperative that we stick together and support one another. We are standing at the battle lines as decisions made in Washington D.C. and our state capitals threaten to scorch and burn the fruitful gardens of creativity and knowledge we have planted.
Everyday teachers battle the time constraints and lack of resources that plague our profession. We endure days where we do not have a break to use the restroom, are made to eat with our students, and treated like babysitters instead of professionals. As the publisher of a magazine that claims to “promote new standards of professionalism and educational enrichment,” it is disappointing to see that 5 out of 8 articles in the February issue were not supportive of teachers.
The general tone and theme were condescending and judgmental. The educational professionals in America do not need chastising and scolding. We need articles about how to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally. We need articles telling us about new and interesting ideas that are taking place around the nation. Where are the articles about balancing the demands that come with education and a family? Where are the articles about successful programs like the “Harlem Children’s Zone?” There are plenty of wonderful things happening in the education profession, and we deserve to have 8 out of 8 articles written in a supportive, uplifting manner.
No, education is not all unicorns and rainbows right now. Our profession loses 30% of teachers within the first one to five years of being hired. That means basically about one out of three teachers will leave before they have started to fully understand the profession. When we are honest, we know that we learn the most in those first one to five years of teaching. So if we are losing 4 out of 12 teachers within the first five years of their careers, we are losing experienced professionals.
No, we do not need to be told what we are doing wrong. We get plenty of that from the media, public, and politicians. We need to be told what we are doing right and how to keep going. We need to be treated like professionals. We need to change the things that aren’t working and nurture the things that are. My question for the editors and assistant editors is; what are you doing to SUPPORT your fellow professionals? It is long past time to stop finger pointing. Roll up your sleeves, and get into the trenches! We need all the help we can get.