None of you are getting rich. In fact, many of you probably barely get by. I know I and many colleagues of my generation qualified for free or reduced lunch when our children were little and we were just starting out. I know some of my colleagues hold a second job in order to make ends meet.
These days, it’s not for the respect that you do this job. Teachers are constantly being maligned in the media. If only we could get rid of “all the bad teachers” our education system would be perfect. Teachers need to be “held accountable”. Sounds as if we have committed some sort of crime. When I started teaching in 1987, teachers were well respected. The corporate campaign to devalue and de-professionalize teaching in order to hire on the cheap hadn’t begun yet.
And you don’t do it for the job security. When I started teaching that was one of three major reasons I chose that career path. I knew I wouldn’t get paid as much as I would in some other fields, but I’d always have a secure job. I didn’t foresee that nearly 30 years later the security of our public schools themselves would be threatened by a hedge fund managed privatization movement.
I don’t know about you, but those are two of the reasons I wanted to be a teacher: job security and respect. And back then, I was thinking about being a young mother. I wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible with my future kids. I knew I’d always have to work, but at least I’d be home when they were home from school and I could have summers with them. And I was. And I did. Even though we never got rich. It was totally worth it.
And that’s the final reason I decided to become a teacher, and the reason why all of you I appreciate so much did, too: we love kids. A lot more than money. We want to do what’s best for kids; not just our kids but everyone’s kids. We want to contribute to making the world better and do a job that matters.
So in spite of the lack of resources, respect, and financial rewards you receive, you keep doing it. I admire you so much. I truly appreciate you. You humble me every day with what you do. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It is an honor to know you.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!