Why Be a Teacher Today?

Thursday, March 03, 2011 - 12:08 PM

Protesters sing the national anthem at the State Capital building February 18, 2011 in Madison, Wisc. Protesters sing the national anthem at the State Capital building February 18, 2011 in Madison, Wisc. (Getty Images)

If you're to listen to the political rhetoric coming out of Wisconsin and other parts of the country right now, teachers don't seem to be getting much love.

Thursday's New York Times has a feature on how teachers are reacting to all this scorn getting heaped on them. Republicans in several states are proposing measures to roll back teacher tenure and some mayors are threatening mass layoffs. One teacher tells the paper, "It’s hard to feel good about yourself when your governor and other people are telling you you’re doing a lousy job." Another teacher in Wisconsin says she finds it hard to keep up with her $26,000 of debt when her salary is only $36,000.

With all this public criticism, we're asking a question addressed specifically to teachers: What makes you keep being a teacher?

And if you're not a teacher, how valuable would you say teachers are? What's a profession that you think a teacher should be paid more than?

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Comments [7]

Danny Martinez

TO ALL PUBLIC EMLPOYEES WHO DONT UNDERSTAND THIS!!!!! YOUR UNION IS SCREWING THE TAXPAYERS AND YOU ARE AS WELL YOU ARE PAID BY US WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS AND WHEN YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO GET RAISES AND COST OF LIVING INCRESES WHEN THE COST OF LIVING HASNT RISEN,YOU GET YOUR RAISE AND WE HAVE TO PAY FOR YOU TO HAVE MORE AND WE TAKE LESS,NOW IF YOU REALLY CARED ABOUT THESE KIDS YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND AND NOT STRIKE AND CAUSE US WHO PAY YOUR SALARIES TO INCRESE EVERY YEAR YOU ONLY WORK 9 MONTHS WE WORK ALL YEAR AND I CANT BELIEVE YOU ARE THAT SELFISH TO THINK WE SHOULD HAVE TO SUFFER TO PAY YOU MORE ITS REALLY SIMPLE IF YOU REALIZE WE DONT GET ALL THESE SPECIAL THINGS WE ARE BROKE AND YOU FEEL WE SHOULD BANKRUPT OURSELVES TO GIVE YOU MORE THAT ATTITUDE IS RUINING THE COUNTY YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT YOURSELF LIKE IT OR NOT BUT THESE PROTESTS ARE REDICULOUS JUST OVER THE RIGHT TO MAKE US PAY FOR YOU.IF YOU DONT AGREE DONT BE A PUBLIC EMPLOYEE ITS OUR TURN TO GET SOMETHING DONE.AFTER ALL YOU WORK 9 MONTHS WITH HOW MANY PAID DAYSOFF AND SOMEHOW YOU DESERVE MORE.USING CHILDREN TO FURTHER YOUR OWN AGENDA AND MAKING US PAY DO REALLY THINK YOURE RIGHT ITS TIME EVERYONE TAKES A HIT IN THE POCKETBOOK NOT JUST US AMERICA IS OVER WHY GREED PLAIN AND SIMPLE!!!!!!!

Mar. 08 2011 05:29 PM

The plight of teachers makes a good lens through which to observe how far our society has warped away from the ideals of the Enlightenment back toward feudalism. Robert Reich wrote in the Huffington Post February 18: "Last year, America's top thirteen hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion each. One of them took home $5 billion. Much of their income is taxed as capital gains -- at 15 percent -- due to a tax loophole that Republican members of Congress have steadfastly guarded. If the earnings of those thirteen hedge-fund managers were taxed as ordinary income, the revenues generated would pay the salaries and benefits of 300,000 teachers. Who is more valuable to our society -- thirteen hedge-fund managers or 300,000 teachers? Let's make the question even simpler. Who is more valuable: One hedge fund manager or one teacher?"

Mar. 03 2011 10:19 PM
robert h. nicholson from Black Mt, NC

My whole life would have crashed if it were not for my teachers. One example: When I was a high school freshman during the Depression, I got an infection in my foot. We hardly had money for food so medicine could not be had. After being out for two weeks one of my classmates came to our house and said "Miz Barton (one of my teachers)asked me to tell you that if you were not in school in two days she would come here and drag you to school". When I got to school Miz B said to me "you will come here to my classroom every morning at 8 o'clock and remain here until 6 PM. I have talked to all your teachers who have provided me with what you must do to catch up." I did just that, made up everything with Miz Barton watching me. I went on from there and eventually was awarded a BS and two Doctorates JD and ND. I was appointed a Special Trial Attorney in the Department of Justice by US Atty General Bobby Kennedy . It would be hazardous for anyone to degrade any teacher in my presence.

Mar. 03 2011 07:42 PM
via text from Boston, Mass.

My wife is, for Boston Public & she is worried thinking of what else to do ( And worried about her pension too).

Mar. 03 2011 04:14 PM
via text from Dearborn, Mich.

I'm actually thinking of becoming a teacher...

Mar. 03 2011 04:14 PM
Kurt (via Facebook)

I'm not a teacher yet, but two years ago I quit my job to get my masters and become a teacher. I expect to be working as one next year. I'm not rethinking this, but it's certainly scaring me. It's also made me rethink relocation. My wife and I will most likely stay in the Northeast--that's always been the case. But we'd talked about possibly moving to Wisconsin or Illinois, or maybe Oregon or Washington. That wouldn't be for a couple of years, if it ever does happen, but the political climate is a definite factor when planning where to live. North Carolina has a definite appeal, for example, but recent events have really made me want to avoid living in a "right-to-work" state (or, as I've been calling them, "right-to-terminate" states.)

Mar. 03 2011 04:14 PM
Nicky (via Facebook)

I would be lying if I said I've never kicked myself for becoming an art teacher. There are those wishy-washy moments that are "worth it"... but generally most of your time is spent pushing a cart and driving to 3-5 different schools.

Mar. 03 2011 04:02 PM

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