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Opinion: Teaching Profession Needs More Money, Independence, Respect

Opinion: The Teaching Profession Needs More Money, Independence and Respect

Schools are finding many ways to deal with impending teacher shortages as the school year approaches, including using librarians and assistant principals as fill-ins and holding community forums seeking new hires. But what really needs to be done to fix this annual problem, says The New York Times' Frank Bruni, is to give the teaching profession a reboot.

Teaching, Bruni says, has become one of the least desirable professions that can't compete to career alternatives that simply have more to offer.

"When the economy improves and job prospects multiply, college students turn their attention elsewhere, to professions that promise more money, more independence, more respect."

With starting salaries for teachers barely cracking $30,000, any student graduating college with student debt is going to turn to professions that can guarantee more. The average teacher is struggling to provide for families and keep up with financial plans, "and college students contemplating careers know that," Bruni said.

As for independence, Bruni argues that teachers have been deprived of their voice and therefore their autonomy.

"The political battles over education, along with the shifting vogues about what’s best, have left many teachers feeling like pawns and punching bags."

Policymakers are far removed from what's actually occurring inside the classroom, and that results in legislation being made and discussed which affects the teacher's daily life without having any of his or her consideration in the matter.

Also, licensing requirement variations across states make mobility for teachers an extremely difficult task. Couple that with low upwards mobility and teachers fear that they will be in the same position the first year as they will decades later, Bruni said.

Bruni says the first step in fixing the mess that has become teaching in American has to start with adding more prestige to the title- the respect that hard-working educators need and deserve.

"One intriguing line of thought about how to do this is to make the requirements for becoming a teacher more difficult, so that a teaching credential has luster," Bruni said, and makes note of Finland, where teachers are highly revered because entering the profession is proceeded by rigorous training."

"The health of our democracy and the perpetuation of our prosperity depend on teaching no less than they do on Wall Street’s machinations or Silicon Valley’s innovations. So let’s make the classroom a destination as sensible, exciting and fulfilling as any other."

Read Bruni's full article here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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