Fed up with Teacher Hate and Disrespect in this Country

Ok, so I’m pretty new to the SD forums, so I hope I am putting this in the right place. If not, my apologies.

I would really like to know how people get off hating and disrespecting teachers so much. If you are someone who feels like teachers complain too much, are overpaid, have it easy, etc, please respond to my following story and questions. I’m going to try to be as civil as possible, but this is a topic that I feel very strongly about and causes a great deal of RAGE for me.

First, a bit of background. I am a 25 year old who spent his first 2 years after earning his Bachelors in Physics and Masters of Science in Science Education teaching high school physics. I quit this summer to persue a different career outside of teaching, even though that was my passion. It was a difficult decision, but I just couldn’t live with the complete lack of disrespect certain people have for teachers.

Some teachers get out of the profession because they can’t control their classroom, connect with their students, or just don’t like working with kids. That’s completely understandable, and I commend those teachers for getting out of the workforce after realizing they were never going to love working with the kids. This was NOT the case for me. I loved the students, and I am going to miss working with them greatly.

What DID kill teaching for me was the fact that no one was ever on my side (except for the other teachers, most of the time, who had no power to really help me). If a student was failing my class, I was the one to blame. The students blamed me for unfair grading, tests, etc. The parents blamed me for not teaching well enough or other things. The administration blamed me for not having enough experience, not being prepared enough, too many mistakes. In my two years of teaching, I had only one parent and one student who accepted responsibility and didn’t try to pawn the blame off onto me.

To compound this fact, I was pretty much told by my principle that he would not “support” a grade a student had earned at the end of last school year. When pressed, he told me not much would happen, but as everyone in education knows, you do NOT want to make enemies with your administration, as they can make life very difficult for you.

No one had ever asked me how hard I had worked with my students to make sure they understood the material. How many hours I spent after school tutoring. How many nights I actually went home and cried because I felt like a failure when students would do poorly on a test, and then went back to help them learn it again and again. How much time I spent uploading resources for them online, finding extra guides, visual aids, demonstrations, etc to help them study. No one cared about how much I cared. They just saw that failing grade as MY problem that I needed to fix for them, by any means possible.

At the end of the school year, I knew that I had done a great job in a difficult situation. My colleagues who also taught physics continually told me I was doing great, and that I was going to be a phenomenal physics teacher. I loved the subject matter, knew it well, and loved working with the kids. I was constantly implementing actively engaging techniques in my classroom (working in groups, small white boards, interactive response remotes, smart boards, etc), doing the things that administration wanted to see and that I was taught in graduate school to do in order to be an effective educator.

And what did I get for all this work? Constant and unrelenting dissaproval. From parents. From students. From administration. From politicians. It is just ridiculous, and I couldn’t take it. I knew that I was going to become very apathetic if I stayed in teaching. So I had to get out. And fortunately because I have a physics degree, I was able to get a better paying job where I will only work half the year in the private sector, with better benefits and much, much less stress.

This is the case with many science and math teachers. There are far better jobs in the private sector, and the toxic attitude towards teachers drives them out of the profession. Teachers in other departments are almost forced to stay in teaching (English, History, Health, etc has limited private industry opportunities that allow them to persue their passion), and I feel bad for them.

In my 2 years of teaching, I didn’t meet a single teacher who loved going to work every day. In the faculty lounge, they would constantly complain about the lack of support and respect, and how they wished they could quit and do something else. Our school lost 3 physics teachers who all had to be replaced last year; I was one of those three.

This country needs to wake up and seriously start supporting teachers. Parents need to make their students accountable for their own actions. Administrators need to start backing up their teachers more.

We are not facing an epidemic of bad teachers. In my two short years, I can think of maybe 2 or 3 who honestly should have been let go. And they were. There are SOME bad teachers who should be removed, but until teachers start getting the respect and support they deserve, schools will never be able to retain highly motivated and excellent teachers.

Was I the best physics teacher ever to live? Hardly. Was I even in the top half? I don’t know. I’d like to think I was better than the average high school physics teacher, who probably only took one or two college physics courses and barely understands the material they are trying to teach. My colleagues seemed to believe in me, and were sad to see me go, so I must have been doing something right. I just know that I’m not the only one who was driven out of teaching for similar reasons, and it is very sad that so many students out there are losing potentially great teachers for this reason.

I don’t understand it either, but teachers have become a repository of right wing hatred and resentment for some reason. They’ll babble about unions, but I suspect that teachers have become an easy scapegoat for talk radio and teabagger types believe every word they hear on talk radio.

I definitely think there’s a perception that teachers are are pushing some kind of “liberal agenda,” which (in right wing world) includes how-to classes on premarital sex and sodomy. All teachers are also anti-Christian atheists who hate Jesus and Christmas and teach godless evolution.

There’s also a whole agenda going on to try to funnel taxpayer money away from public schools and into private religious schools via voucher scams.

I don’t disagree with your points, but I feel like the problem with education is an American problem, as opposed to a republican vs democrat problem. I would suspect you are right that disrespect comes more from conservatives than democrats… but I live in Texas where we don’t have unions, so I don’t think I encountered too much of that particular sentiment.

Overall, there’s a right-wing dislike for anyone who earns a living from tax dollars these days, union or no. That includes university workers, road crews, garbage collectors, police, fire rescue, teachers, correctional officers, city hall bean counters, TSA agents, social workers, etc. Public employees have become the face of all that’s wrong with government, and the disrespect leveled at them is a result of anti-government sentiment on the right.

Well, did you have enough experience, were you prepared enough, and did you make too many mistakes?

I don’t have anything against teachers, but it seems to be the only profession that produces this amount of “woe is me” complaints. So your customers (students and parents) complain about the level of service you provide. What job doesn’t have to deal with that? When things don’t turn out perfect, you get pressure from management to do things better. That’s how things work in the world. And this quote:

Yeah, again no one really gives a shit how much you try or how much you care about your job. Results are what count.

Teachers make easy targets for four main reasons: (1) They’re paid pretty well, (2) They get a lot of time off, (3) Tenure, and (4) their pay is tied to time in service, not performance. Of course this applies to public school teachers only. Private school teachers don’t seem to have as much hate directed at them.

When I taught elementary school, the biggest problem for teachers was the lack of support from parents. We were treated as basically babysitters, and any issue with student behavior was seen as being the teacher’s fault. It’s hard to maintain an ordered, disciplined classroom when the kids know there will be no consequences at home for their behavior.

These are all bullshit distortions and typical right wing talking points.

I’m a former elementary school teacher who left for many of the reasons you stated. And teachers (and unions) have been the bogeyman of all what’s wrong with education since A Nation at Risk came out in the early '80s. In essence, the education crisis is a political football that both sides use to their advantage - but do very little to actually improve as far as policy.

In some sectors in this country, schools are trying to actually educate kids, rather than control them. But it’s an uphill struggle. I think we need to re-introduce Americorps and give college grads loan forgiveness for doing two years of national service, which could include teaching. Anyone who has worked in a school for more than a few weeks respects teachers - the problem is a vast majority of the electorate think it’s just reading from a book and summers off.

Remember, your prinicipal, is your 'pal.'

So, teachers aren’t paid pretty well, they don’t get a lot of time off, they don’t get tenure, and their pay is not tied to time in service?

I’m a former elementary school teacher who left for many of the reasons you stated. And teachers (and unions) have been the bogeyman of all what’s wrong with education since A Nation at Risk came out in the early '80s. In essence, the education crisis is a political football that both sides use to their advantage - but do very little to actually improve as far as policy.

In some sectors in this country, schools are trying to actually educate kids, rather than control them. But it’s an uphill struggle. I think we need to re-introduce Americorps and give college grads loan forgiveness for doing two years of national service, which could include teaching. Anyone who has worked in a school for more than a few weeks respects teachers - the problem is a vast majority of the electorate think it’s just reading from a book and summers off.

To reinforce Happy’s point, I’m in Texas, and university faculty are the new teachers (as far as being the right - specifically, Rick Perry’s - punching bag). The meme of tweed-jacketed eggheads reluctantly teaching tiny classes and jetting off to conduct esoteric research on the taxpayer’s dime when they should in fact be teaching eager students is well established here (but of course, not supported by any fact).

Umm. . .

I agree 100% with you that teachers need to be accountable in meeting the expectations set forth to them. And as I outlined in my post, I met and exceeded those expectations in many ways. But when push comes to shove, an administrator or unhappy parent couldn’t care less about anything that you did. When I tried to provide evidence of everything I had done to help that particular student pass, I was completely ignored. This principle had only had 3 years of teaching special ed. He frankly has no qualifications in determining whether or not I was effectively teaching physics. My fellow physics teachers who WERE qualified continually said I was doing a bang up job. This was not lip-service, as other teachers were not as highly praised.

Also,

I agree with your points about teachers getting paid well, having time off, and getting tenure, and their pay schedules. I felt that the pay I earned was fair for the amount of work I was doing, and I never complained about being “over worked.” I just wanted to point that out, because I have no respect for teachers who complain about those issues. If you feel you are underpaid/overworked as a teacher, you were naive and ignorant for getting into that career in the first place. However, from a market perspective, I wasn’t being compensated competetively as evidenced by the fact that I was able to find a job that paid 12k more per year, and only work 6 months out of the year, with better benefits. Is my situation typical? Perhaps not. Maybe sometimes teachers are overpaid. I would hazard to guess that most teachers in math and physical sciences are not being paid competetively, IE, that they could go out and get a better paying job for the skills that they have without having too look too hard. This is only conjecture though, I don’t have any statistics to back that up.

Haha, nice catch. Obviously I meant ‘lack of respect’! My apologies. My rage tends to cloud my grammar sometimes.

Also, thanks Jack for the catch. I do know the difference between principle and principal, but it is one I struggle with in a rage-enduced frenzy!

Fuck no, Fuck no, not easily, and not that simple.

I do think anti-teacher sentiment has hit a recent fervor in large part due to the talking points coming from the right wing who try to blame budget shortfalls on greedy teachers demanding exorbitant salaries and pensions. However, I have several close friends and relatives who are/have been teachers over the past couple of decades, and I’ve heard stories similar to the OP for as long as I’ve known them. Public school teachers simply get a shitty deal: between unmotivated students, parents unwilling to carry their share of the educational burden, and adminstrators who will always side with whichever parent complains the loudest, they have the unenviable position of professionals who nobody listens to but everybody second guesses/blames.

No idea how to fix it, but I sympathize with the OP. We’ve create a work environment for one of society’s most important professions which is all but guaranteed to drive away the most qualified individuals. It’s pretty disgraceful.

I’m pretty sure that skeeball players at an arcade don’t routinely flip their shit at the attendant when they suck bad enough to not earn enough points for a fake spider ring.

No kidding. Damn those right wing students blaming teachers for failing tests. Damn those right wing parents blaming the teachers on not teaching their kids well enough. And a good fuck damn for those right wing administrators for blaming the teachers on not being prepared enough.

When is this country going to learn you can’t trust right wing administratord or parents and you especially can’t fucking trust those god damned right wing students.

This is a big reason that education is so complicated. Students are not exactly customers. They’re an unholy melange of customer, employee and product.

Parents act like the student is a customer, they send them to school and expect to receive knowledge from the service provider, and complain that their child’s bad grade is a result of poor service.

Teachers treat students like subordinate employees, they dictate the manner in which the workday is conducted, they provide tasks to them, to be completed by a due date.

The public treats students like products, and demand that teachers crank out X number of acceptable units per year.

Dio maybe things have changed since you taught but you are wrong, at least in Califronia. One of my best friends and his wife are both teachers here in California.

He has been teaching for three years and makes over 50k, she is making in the 40’s but she has only been teaching for two years.

They both get two weeks off for christmas and two weeks for spring break. They both get almost 3 months off for summer.

They are both tenured.

I don’t know about the pay tied to time in service so I won’t address that.