The Harvard Business Review asks: “When Did the U.S. Stop Seeing Teachers as Professionals?” in an article written 6-20-18 by Robert Bruno and found here: When Did the U.S. Stop Viewing Teachers as Professionals?
Bruno writes, and I concur, that: “Teachers are seeing their own experience be devalued by policymakers and other officials with little experience in the education field, and it’s not improving the education of their students. In other words, and as others have noted, teachers are balking at the erosion of their status as professionals.”
Bruno goes on to write that today, (and I agree) that “Creativity is squeezed out for conformity and teacher autonomy suppressed…”
As a results of external stressors, Bruno notes that studies are revealing that teachers report feeling highly stressed twice as much as the average American worker, but worse, that
…nearly a quarter of respondents said work was “always” stressful. (emphasis added)
This stress and these outside stressors will lead to “constant battles” and struggles, Bruno contends, with our very democracy at stake.
As he notes, “The outcome of that struggle will assuredly determine the quality of the nation’s schools and, subsequently, the strength of our country’s democracy.”
Because teachers care so much, Bruno writes, teachers will continue to protect their students even while knowing, “To them, nothing less than the education profession is at risk.”
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What do I think about this article? If I were not still so burned out from the stress that comes with the deprofessionalization of teaching, with as Bruno calls it, a corporate-styled version of professionalism , I’d tell you.
Wait. I can tell you.
It’s like Bruno has been in the minds of many teachers I know.
It was never about the kids; Bruno does not mention even one time teachers’ concerns about students. We love the kids. We love to teach. We are teachers. We are well-educated and passionate professionals.
We deserve to have our well-informed voices heard. We deserve to have time to use the bathroom during the work day. We deserve time to meet with our colleagues to plan, for we have great ideas and even greater ones when we can collaborate. We deserve to plan our lessons with our specific students in mind. We deserve to have fewer non teaching duties, including a duty-free lunch and planning period, less hall and bathroom and lunch room duties. We deserve the pensions we have paid for diligently and not to be blamed for an entire state’s broken promises. We deserve to have the public pay for the public part of education and teachers not to have to pay for toilet paper or basic student supplies. We deserve to be treated like the licensed, educated professionals we are, and not to be evaluated or have our work evaluated by non-educators or those who have spent little time in the classroom.
We deserve to be treated as professionals; since we often are not, many are leaving, and many who remain are stressed, burned out, sad, angry, and profoundly disheartened.
Many veteran teachers are “retiring” early, such as myself.
And I wonder if this wasn’t part of the plan all along–to drive out the veteran teachers who would speak up, to drive out any creativity that might challenge the corporate non-educator reformers.
Could be. Should I be that suspicious?
I believe so.
Teachers are fighting for the very life of their profession.
3 thoughts on “When Did the U.S. Stop Seeing Teachers as Professionals? (mini review from HBR)”
It sure is a plan – force out those who cost the most money because public schools are cash-strapped.
My cabinet at school includes toilet paper, soap, paper towels, and sanitary napkins, all purchased with my own personal money. Half the time the bathrooms are not stocked with any of these things. Sanitary napkins are not available in any bathroom. There are no machines. I have to buy these items at the store at least twice a month.
Some of the bathrooms went without cleaning for weeks. Teachers emptied the garbage cans. Kids emptied the garbage cans. We actually bought garbage cans for one bathroom because the girls were flushing their embarrassing garbage down the toilet rather than bringing it to class with them (who can blame them?).
Teachers’ working conditions are kids’ learning conditions. I am starting to believe that some people do not care about the kids’ learning conditions as much as they should. Why else would they allow the above to continue?
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Absolutely agreed. I was thinking of you at times when I wrote this. Buying NECESSARY supplies out of pocket. I know my first six years of teaching I spent 10-20% of my GROSS earnings on books and supplies. Not tax deductible since not legally required. But kids need books to read in reading class, right? And… food when hungry. And paper. And pens…you get it. Sigh… Not missing the abuse, that’s for sure.
But I do miss the kids. I still love teaching.
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