To the Editor:
After finishing reading the transcript of your May 3, 2007, online chat “Careers in Teaching,” I’m not sure why I bothered. I am a middle school teacher with 11 years under my belt, and I love teaching and working with kids. But many administrators have become untouchable or unapproachable, to the point that I begin to wonder if they are puppets or really concerned with what’s best for kids.
It seems that every time teachers turn around, there’s a new program, idea, or practice on our plates, and the number of parents who micromanage our instruction grows each year. The incessant assessments we develop, give, and grade to justify the standards only increase—plus, we often have to reinvent them year to year. And don’t forget the constant barrage of do-more-with-less mandates. None of these daily, real-world situations was dealt with in the chat.
Sometimes I am so perplexed as to where the Pollyannas of education work. It isn’t where any of my colleagues are employed. I’m sure that wonderful schools and even districts exist—and readers who work in one should count their lucky stars—but I believe far more of us are in the complete opposite situation, and in straits more dire than the chat seemed to portray.
Overall, I’m disappointed in two things about the two chats I’ve wanted to be online for, but have had to go back and read. One, I happen to be teaching during the afternoon, which is when you tend to schedule them. And two, I’d like to say to the guests, “Get real with your answers.” Having a career in education gets harder and more disappointing by the day, and if we can’t get real answers from sources like those brought in by Education Week, then we’re going to become more and more frustrated with the state of this profession.
A version of this article appeared in the May 23, 2007 edition of Education Week as Pursuit of Excellence Is No Longer a Priority