On the Periphery

Things change. Life throws us curves and changeups. It's good to have a place to vent.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It’s been interesting watching the recent demonstrations both by and against teachers. Yes, against teachers. People have been wielding signs suggesting that teachers have it pretty great, and why should they be able to negotiate better conditions. There seems to be a misconception about teachers—that their jobs are a breeze, they get summers off, paid a lot, and basically have a smooth ride.

Let me offer some illumination: I was a teacher in Wisconsin, and left because I was burned out and tired of spending every waking hour outside of the classroom either grading papers, attending meetings, or developing plans for parents. After listening to people who begrudge the people who raise their children a decent living or the chance to negotiate for it, I have the perfect solution.

Let’s eliminate teachers and schools completely.

Instead, we will shift the raising and educating of our children back where it belongs: on their parents, making parents responsible for their kids’ studies. They would be required to track their kids on a regular basis with the state, submitting lesson plans and progress reports, working to state standards and being responsible for test scores. Let the parents teach the kids social skills, and deal with inattention and recalcitrance. Of course, the parents would be required to rack up continuing education credits (at their own expense), and pay for materials out of their own pockets. For this, the state would provide a stipend for each child at the level accepted by the state legislature, requiring from the parents a detailed listing of how the funds were used (with receipts attached). For that, the state would provide health insurance (with a large co-pay and deductible required). This would be considerably less expensive than having all those greedy teachers and their exorbitant salaries!

Of course, if both parents work, they would have to figure out how to fit in the students’ time. Maybe one could work third shift, and teach during the day? (I know teachers who have a second job at night to make ends meet.) Hey, piece of cake, right? After all, how hard can it be to teach a child not only academic courses but citizenship, manners, cooperation, and tolerance?

After all, that’s what teachers do. And their reward? A salary that's a third of what they might make applying their skills and intelligence in the private sector. And the "appreciation" of the parents who think they have it so easy. So let the parents do it. I dare them.

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