I recently spoke with a friend who is a 3rd grade teacher in SF, and his story reminded me of how undervalued teachers are and how little the public understands what teachers do. He’s on Spring Break, and in addition to the grading and class prep teachers usually do, he spent 8 hours weeding his class garden, so his students could feel pride in having a lovely spot. He also made a presentation board celebrating their recent classroom performance, so when they come back to class next week, they will see all their hard work represented.
All this is fairly standard; the part that moved me is that he also sells stuff at the Alemany Flea Market so that he can buy things for his classroom–this weekend, he’s hoping to make $200 to plow back in to supplies for his class.
Could he use this money for himself and his family? Of course–but he’s spending his weekends buying and selling stuff to support his students because California will not take care of its children and its future. This is the “bad teacher” being vilified by legislation like No Child Left Behind. This is the “bad teacher” that the citizens of California refuse to support. This is the “bad teacher” who gives his students love and support everyday–including weekends, Spring Break, and summer, all of which are dedicated to creating new and exciting opportunities for them to learn.
Pundits say that since many voters don’t have kids in public school, they don’t want to vote for taxes to support schools. But haven’t we all had one of these “bad teachers” — someone who sacrificed for us more than we knew, did everything they could to show us that we were valuable, that we deserved attention, and maybe even taught us a thing or two?
Let’s vote to support teachers, who are as integral to the infrastructure of our state as roads and highways and public safety and health care.
For more on how blaming teachers distorts the truth, please read Kevin Kumashiro’s excellent book, Bad Teacher! How Blaming Teachers Distorts the Bigger Picture: http://antioppressiveeducation.org/badteachertour.html