My home state, Washington, was often seen as a progressive and enlightened hotbed of education ideas; however, my state is quickly becoming much like the rest of the education world with pseudo-reformers hijacking the conversation and the direction. Even Democrats, who once supported educators, are beginning to move away from protecting and supporting organized labor in general and teachers in particular.
Currently, numerous bad bills are making their way through the political system.
- One bill that moved out of the Senate and into the House would allow principals to arbitrarily place teachers in a “displaced” category and then fire them.
- Another bill out of the Senate and into the House would rate schools on an A-F basis, but is solely determined on standardized tests (further strengthening the testing stranglehold on education).
- One other bill would move everyone’s pension monies (for those under 45 years of age) into 401k plans rather than leave them in the pension system.
Other bad bills are working their way into being potentially wide-sweeping and far-reaching law. Some even attempt to micro-manage how districts use their money–the same money being cut by the state–by requiring some students to have mandatory tutoring or summer school. Another example of this micro-managing is a bill that would force districts to bring back suspended students (even violent ones) into the school setting before their suspensions are up or counseling is completed.
In my state salaries have been frozen or reduced in each of the last three years.
I’m not saying what is happening in my state is different or worse then yours, but what we’re seeing is an education environment with:
- frozen or lowered salaries,
- salaries that do not pace or match other fields,
- more expensive health plans which cover less,
- potentially riskier retirement plans,
- eliminated professional development days,
- more duties and responsibilities, and
- raised expectations of performance with fewer resources.
But, we want the “best and brightest to choose” education as a pathway. Why would they choose education? When my students ask me if being a teacher is a good job to consider in the future, I hesitate and am not sure how to answer that question. If I had kids of my own, I would not advise them to enter the teaching ranks.
If university graduates really are the “best and brightest,” they would never consider education.