A rant, with a view(point).

Posted: March 14, 2011 in Writing

I have been stewing for a while, debating about whether or not to share my thoughts on this topic. For those of you that don’t know, I am a high school science teacher, and the recent events in Wisconsin and other states has given me pause. I have not posted here, for feat that my ire will show through too much. I was also unsure if I wanted this blog to be tied to my other job (I see writing as one of two professions)

Well, forget that. I need to show the real me at all times. If people don’t like me, that is fine. Let them at least understand where I am coming from. I also believe that a lot of what I write ties to the ideas of people learning from others and working hard to achieve a goal. Ideals that I espouse in my classroom on a daily basis.

As a teacher there is nothing that I want more than to see my student’s succeed. There are times where I am actually worried that I may not be doing enough, even though I am doing more than my fair share. I work hard to prepare lessons, gather materials, make lectures and activities, grade assignments, give tests; these are all things that every teacher does day in and day out. On top of that I listen to the girl whose boyfriend can’t see that all she wants is a certain flower to be purchased for her and wishes that he wasn’t just interested in the physical. The senior whose mother calls him worthless and says she hates him spends all of my planning time in my room while I assure him that he can do many things, and not to worry about it. I do these things willingly, for they are also part of being a teacher.

To all those that treat teachers as if they are the leech of the economy I would like to issue a challenge. Trade places with me. Not because I don’t want to do the job, but because I know that you don’t want to. It is not easy work, summers off (without pay and no option for unemployment) not withstanding. I am expected to contact, as frequently as possible, 100 sets of parents. Keep those students aware of their grades and what is missing. Handle discipline largely on my own, prepare lessons, grade papers, console the sad, deal with the sick, plan diverse lessons, as students of all abilities are in one class together. I am the one that stands in front of your child, thinking of dropping out, and saying to them that there are better choices. We all stand at the front of a battle line. One where we try to give the youth of America the skills they need so that they don’t go out there and steal, kill, do drugs. We can’t save them all, but don’t kid yourselves. It would be worse without us.

“Now, Jason,” you start to say, “what about the fact that tenure keeps bad teachers from being fired?”

That’s an easy one. It doesn’t. It prevents a tenured teacher from being fired for no reason. I have seen tenured teachers get fired. They were bad teachers. They did the wrong things, and now they are out of a job.

You may also talk about the pensions that teachers get as being a burden, but let me point out two things: 1) Glance at the pensions that your state politicians get, and 2) most people who teach chose to do it because it was a good thing to do, not because it paid well. The pension helps somewhat offset that. With my degree, in the science field I could be making double what I have now. When I go to retire in thirty years, my pension will barely give me more than I make right now. Not exactly a huge windfall. Then again, I don’t care. Just give me students who have done well thanks to me, and I am happy.

How do we fix the mess, then? Well, I don’t really have all the answers. I have a few ideas. Too many to share here all at once. One overall idea that I would like to put out there is this, however. Let’s put the responsibility for learning back on those that really need it. The students. If we make it clear that they are expected to do the work. If parents stop giving sick notes for days their child skips. If administrators made it so that a student wasn’t allowed in class if they didn’t do the work requires. If teachers didn’t allow late assignments to be graded equally to those handed in on time. Then the students would be forced to see that they have to care. It is their blood, sweat, and tears that matter most.

I can lead the horse to water, but I cannot make it drink.


Thank you for this moment. In other news, short story contest entry is underway. Which contest? Not sure. Depends on how fast I get it done. Maybe Writer’s Digest, maybe Writer’s of the Future. Stay tuned, sneak peeks guaranteed.

  1. Marcia Richards says:

    I’m glad you vented a little, Jason. Teachers have our children more hours in a day than the parents do and consequently are in a position to influence their attitudes on many topics. You have an important job and I know you do it well. This is a difficult economic time and people are confused and scared. Policies and the rules we’ve lived with for so long are bound to be tested. All we can do is keep doing what we do in the best way we can. We’ll have nothing to regret. As for those who make laws, policies and rules that will change the game on us, they will have to live with the consequences. We’ll adapt. And, yes, writing on a personal topic is still writing, so this wasn’t the least bit off base for your blog.

    • jmcmurray says:

      Thanks for understanding, Marcia. I don’t usually let things get to me, but this one stuck in my craw a bit. Does anyone use the word ‘craw’ anymore?

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