To Be or Not To Be, Motivated to Teach, That Is The Question

By: Adam Solomon

The comedic yet tragic evolution and near dissolution of the American Dream and valued education is upon us. “Teaching was once said to be a vocation.”[1] Perhaps it is the joy of teaching students how to write and learn, and helping students grow and mature.[2] People used to get into the teaching field to make a difference, to help kids, or to meet new students and thrive in an atmosphere of change and flexibility.[3] Unfortunately, times have changed in terms of education, and there has been an even growing downside for teachers. “Classroom teachers, especially those who are just out of college and entering the profession, are more stressed and less valued than at any previous time in our history.”[4] With substandard pay, politicians bashing and belittling their ability, being blamed for a lack of improvement in student grades based on arbitrary standards, and consistently faced with threats of losing benefits, never achieving tenure, and a fleeting glimpse of an ever more unobtainable notion of a pension,[5] it becomes harder and harder to fathom why anyone would still want to pursue a career as an educator. This quandary continues to widen as the devaluation and de-emphasis of classroom teachers continues to grow under the Common Core Standards.[6]

Ideally, Common Core standards are designed to create a higher level of thinking and prepare students for success in college, their careers, and life.[7] States were forced to adopt these national standards through the threatened withholding of federal grants.[8] Unfortunately, the sad reality has shown that much like the past failure of the No Child Left Behind policy, Common Core will only succeed in pushing more kids out of high school than it will prepare for college, while simultaneously punishing good teachers in the process.[9] Part of the implementation of these standards requires the use of the Common Core tests to evaluate teachers.[10] This inaccurate and unreliable practice only serves to further the assault on teaching, instead of renewing it as a profession.[11] Relying on tests results to evaluate teachers will have the natural effect of causing teachers to teach only to the test.[12] Teaching clearly isn’t what it used to be for public schools, but this dilemma doesn’t end there.

[T]he new standards have made learning more difficult across the board, especially for special educations students. . . . [T]he new standards represent a “developmentally inappropriate curriculum” for special education students and has had the additional effect of []taking away from schools’ and educators’ ability to really focus on differentiated and individualized sort of goals for those students.[13]

“The Common Core requires special-needs students to achieve the same level of academic proficiency as their nondisabled peers, despite these students needing up to 30–40 additional days of instruction to learn the same material.”[14] And of course, the inability of these students to adequately perform on a level well above their means, will cause teachers to receive failing evaluations and thereby less job security. “Teachers who receive ineffective ratings for two consecutive years may face an expedited dismissal process.”[15] The firing or “letting go” of teachers is one negative result of the new direction of teaching, but another perhaps more alarming one is the fact that teachers are simply leaving the profession all together, and some just can’t get out fast enough.[16] “A mass exodus is happening in k-12 education. Research shows that 50% of new teachers leave the job before year 5. That number is consistent across the country and represents a giant chunk of the workforce. According to [a] study conducted by Alliance for Excellent Education.”[17] Teachers being blamed for the problems of their students, and education as a whole, is enough to make them walk out the door.[18] But contributing to the list of reasons accounting for this massive turnover and possible future extinction of teachers are unsupportive administration and parents, unrealistic goals, tying teacher pay and evaluation to test scores, failing to give teachers the resources they need to do their job, and holding teachers accountable for things that are out of their control.[19] The hands’ of teachers are being tied behind their backs and then they are penalized for not being able to satisfactorily carry out their job.

“Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs.”[20] The enrollment of teachers in California is down 53% over the past five years, with sharp declines in New York, Texas, and North Carolina as well.[21] “The erosion is steady. That’s a steady downward line on a graph. And there’s no sign that it’s being turned around.”[22] “Throw in the erosion of tenure protections and a variety of recession-induced budget cuts, and you’ve got the makings of a crisis. . . And students are hearing this. And it deters them from entering the profession.”[23] Based on the harsh standards inflicted on teachers, the shattering of their morale, the robbing of their hopes and dreams of fostering the young minds of future generations or simply being allowed to educate, and the lack of any change in sight, it is no wonder that there is a decline in the number of teachers, and a deterrent effect on those who want to be teachers altogether. If this downward trend continues, the question will no longer be why would anyone want to pursue a career as an educator, but rather who, if any, will be left willing to teach?

[1] Gerry Sutton, Column: I Don’t Teach For ‘Good Money’ or ‘Cushy Holidays’, TheJournal.ie (Oct. 16, 2013, 7:30 PM), http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/i-dont-teach-for-good-money-or-cushy-holidays-1129059-Oct2013/.

[2] Randy Turner, A Warning to Young People: Don’t Become a Teacher, The Huffington Post (Apr. 9, 2013, 4:58 PM), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-turner/a-warning-to-young-people_b_3033304.html.

[3] See CTI Career Search, What It’s Really Like to Be an Elementary School Teacher, Teaching Community, http://teaching.monster.com/careers/articles/9638-what-its-really-like-to-be-an-elementary-school-teacher (last visited Oct. 21, 2015).

[4] Turner, supra note 2.

[5] See Id.

[6] Id.

[7] See Myths VS. Facts, Common Core State Standards Initiative, http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/myths-vs-facts/ (last visited Oct. 21, 2015).

[8] The Trouble With the Common Core, Rethinking Schools (2003), http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/27_04/edit274.shtml.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] See Pamela Engel, This May Be The Biggest Problem With America’s ‘Common Core’ Education Standards, Business Insider (July 4, 2014), http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-the-biggest-problem-with-common-core-2014-7.

[13] Heba Kanso, Common Core: What’s Right for Special Education Students?, CBSNEWS (Apr. 16, 015, 5:41 AM), http://www.cbsnews.com/news/common-core-whats-right-for-special-educations-students/.

[14] Lauren Mitchell, The Unexplored Standards: Common Core’s Impact on Special-Needs Education, HSLDA (Feb. 2, 2015), https://www.hslda.org/docs/news/2015/201502020.asp.

[15] Amanda M. Fairbanks, Common Core: Will Test-Based Teacher Evaluations Derail the Common Core?, The Hechinger Report (Jan. 8, 2015), http://hechingerreport.org/will-test-based-teacher-evaluations-derail-common-core/.

[16] See Kathleen Jasper, Why Half of the Nation’s New Teachers Can’t Leave the Profession Fast Enough, ConversationED (Dec. 29, 2014), http://conversationed.com/2014/12/29/the-reason-50-of-new-teachers-are-leaving-the-profession-isnt-complicated/.

[17] Id.

[18] See Id.

[19] See Id.

[20] Eric Westervelt, Where Have All the Teachers Gone?, nprEd (Mar. 3, 2015, 2:03 PM), http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/03/03/389282733/where-have-all-the-teachers-gone.

[21] Id.

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: