To the Editor:
A new study by Public Agenda and Learning Point Associates, “Teaching for a Living: How Teachers See the Profession Today,” described in your In Perspective article “State of Mind” (Oct. 21, 2009), may be a fair assessment of the way the teaching population characterizes itself. But it omits the ever-present influence of boards of education, teachers’ unions, and the voting public on teachers’ attitudes toward their profession.
For a school to function in a way that proves satisfactory to all its constituents, partnerships are the most effective working arrangements between these groups. Collaboration improves communication and relationships, which results in a collective focus on student success. If any of these three constituencies begins to lose confidence in the others, the result can turn dismal right away.
If 40 percent of teachers surveyed are deemed “disheartened” because of lack of support, it cannot be the fault of poor administration alone. Boards of education, as well as average citizens, should not ignore the negative impact that blunt, baseless criticism has on educators. It is also essential that policymakers recognize that, as they create legislation that forces longer careers, decreased retirement annuities, and more testing, such actions will rapidly add more teaches to the ranks of the disheartened.
Samuel E. Yusim
A version of this article appeared in the November 11, 2009 edition of Education Week as ‘Disheartened’ Educators: New Study Misses Much