Lane’s letter reflects inaccurate stereotypes of profession, teacher says

Carl Lane’s letter reflects the inaccurate stereotypes of the teaching profession that are perpetuated by people who are not teachers.

Mr. Lane cites statistics that highlight the minimum contract hours of teachers. Teachers work longer hours than their contracts require.

If teachers were to “work the contract” as Mr. Lane recommends, papers would never get graded, tutoring would never take place, lesson plans would never get completed, parents would never be contacted and student clubs would never meet.

Mr. Lane argues others “work extra hours and pursue continuing education opportunities.”

He fails to mention that teaching is one of the few professions in which continuing education is mandatory. Missouri places several requirements on teachers in regards to improving professionally. It requires that teachers accumulate 30 hours of professional development annually. Teachers are mandated to earn a master’s degree to stay certified.

Therefore, teachers are essentially forced to spend their money on continuing education since the majority of the districts in the state do not reimburse for educational credits at a rate that covers all educational expenses.

This situation is unique to teaching as the private sector rarely mandates employees to further their education and when it does, companies will cover the cost of said education.

National Education Association statistics show that 40 percent of teachers will leave the profession within their first five years of employment. This is a scary statistic considering the future of our country depends on educating our nation’s children.

As “Boomer” teachers begin to retire, our nation faces a severe teacher shortage.

Teachers within the first six years of their career face termination due to numerous factors, including a decline in district population, budget cuts and the whims of building administration.

Tenured teachers are not immune to termination. If a teacher is bad, a principal must document the teacher’s shortcomings and provide a chance for that teacher to improve before they can be let go.

Mr. Lane attacks what he dubs the “educational establishment” for supporting a system that he believes does not compensate the “best teachers.”

Districts must award raises in teacher salary based on years of service and teacher education. It protects teachers from facing arbitrary awarding of bonuses due to personal biases of administrators.

Mr. Lane argued that this system of compensation does nothing to identify superior teachers. What Mr. Lane does not do is put forth an idea on how districts should go about identifying quality teachers.

The education profession does not function like the corporate world in regards to rewarding performance.

Teachers do not produce widgets. People’s children are not products to be bar coded and sold.

Teacher pay cannot be tied to the number of units sold, accounts managed or profits earned.

As a teacher, I deal with 125 individuals every day, each with their own unique hopes, strengths, weaknesses and abilities.

How does one measure someone in my situation? By looking at test scores? If that was to happen, all teachers who taught honors courses would seem “superior” to those teachers who teach remedial courses.

Mr. Lane, spend a day with a teacher and then decide if you believe they are underpaid.

Paul Stanley