There is no argument - teachers need more time and money to do the important work they do in the classroom. In a CBS interview, teacher-turned-politician, Carri Hicks said, “If we're not willing to put more dollars into the classroom, if we're not willing to invest in the people that are going to be at the front of those classrooms either, then what is left for public education?"
Hicks has an argument that’s hard to disagree with, and the majority of people would say, “Yes! I want to help teachers.” But at the end of the day, when taxpayers are asked to pass bills that allocate more money to the public school system, they are often not in favor of it. So, where is the disconnect?
Perhaps the issue can be found in stories like the one below; stories that often reveal that teachers are under significant pressures that are not just financial. Taxpayers trust teachers, but they don’t trust the system.
MASPETH HIGH SCHOOL:
In a slew of New York Post articles, Maspeth High School has become the latest institution facing an investigation on grade-corruption. Students coined the term “maspeth minimum’ for the fraud The New York Post described:
Four teachers told The Post that the 2,100-student high school — awarded a prestigious National Blue Ribbon in 2018 by the federal secretary of education — has an unwritten but iron-clad “no-fail policy,” even for kids who repeatedly don’t do the work or even show up.
And that’s just the beginning of the list of issues. Investigators also discovered fraudulent diplomas, fake classes, and even students who had missed several months of school but still passed classes. Unfairly, The Post titled one of its articles, “Maspeth High School’s secret to high pass rates is cheating: teachers.” But ultimately, the problem was NOT the teachers. In fact, it was the teachers who couldn’t take it anymore and who left their jobs to tell the truth. Teachers who were brave enough to stand up to the terrifying administration brought on the investigation that finally shed light on what was happening at Maspeth.
Every quote, every description of the classroom settings was heartbreaking. All of the following came from the investigation:
Teachers face “retaliatory” evaluations or trumped-up disciplinary charges — and fear losing their jobs — if they don’t cooperate, whistleblowers said.
“You are called in about kids who are failing. The message is, ‘Make sure you pass them,’” a teacher said. “You know you have to change the grade.”
Another teacher recalled a student who didn’t have to worry about flunking even after flubbing his course and blowing off a last-minute “makeup packet.”
“I felt forced to pass him,” his teacher said, admitting, the act of self-protection felt wrong. “I think it’s unethical. I think it’s a disservice to students.”
“Kids blatantly copy other students’ homework assignments. Copying and cheating are rampant,” a teacher said. “If you bring it to the dean, nothing happens. Discipline is laughable. There’s no consequences for misbehavior, for disrespecting teachers, or for cheating.”
We believe in our teachers, and we believe in fully-funding schools. We also believe that the problems in public school systems are often not centered on the classroom teacher. For example, why is it that private schools have classroom supplies and yet they only receive, on average, $10,000 per student while public schools, on average, receive $13,000 per student.
Schools like Maspeth can receive awards and beg for more funding while bullying teachers, creating impossible learning environments, and siphoning off money to pay more administrators. Powerful administrators like these should not be allowed to control the system unchecked and unchallenged.
So, how does our country trust a system where teachers must quit their jobs before they can challenge their administration? The truth is we can’t trust that system. We need an education system that gives both students and teachers the opportunity to leave when a school isn’t a safe place to teach or learn. And creating more school options would do just that. Students, would not have to stay in badly functioning schools because their zip codes forced them to be there. Likewise, teachers would have more schools vying for their skills, and therefore, holding administrations more accountable because teachers would not be forced to retire in order to push back against administrative bullying. They could leave the school, teach elsewhere, and still tell their story.
Let’s create a system that values teachers and builds a system of trust. Learn more here.