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as reported by Paul Hillis

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time and phone number.

As I walked across the parking lot of the Eatemup, I was thinking about the letter to the editor from the teacher of thirty years.

Once again a teacher was trying to explain why our educational system has been dummied down to the point it appears none of the students are learning anything. And, of course, she was trying to explain this to people who have never been in a classroom. To people who would become upset and rude if a teacher tried to tell them how to do their job.

How often, I asked myself, do parents second-guess a doctor who is treating one of their children? Would they actually not only imply, but also downright disagree with the diagnoses, prognoses, and treatment of the doctor? I donít think so.

After all, doctors have been to college and spent years honing their skills so they could practice their profession. However, it has become a common practice for a teacher to be challenged by the student, the parent, an administrator, and anyone who can get the attention of a TV station or newspaper. After all these folks must make it public knowledge their baby has been wronged.

One of the comments of this teacher of thirty years was how so many students didnít want to be Ďbotheredí with homework. One student I remember was to do a three-page report on any subject of his choice. This report was to be in a see through folder, could be hand-written or typed, should have one or two pictures, and as much information about the subject as could be found.

He turned in two pages that were stapled together. His subject was about ducks so one whole page had a picture of a duck on it. The front page had very little information about what type of duck this was supposed to be. There was not information on its nesting areas, where it migrated to or from, or what set it apart from other ducks. Nothing much more than this is a duck, it has feathers and likes to float on water. I refused the report.

The next day I got a call from the mother who explained to me in no uncertain terms about how much Ďhard workí had been put in on this report. How much time and effort she had spent at the library gathering information and getting a photocopy of a duck for her son. My impression was that she was angrier about what she perceived as her grade than she was about the one the son did not receive. But once again, it was my fault entirely because I was Ďtoo hard and expected too much in a reportí.

This incident is just one of the examples that teachers must tolerate. And the problem is that after awhile it just wears you down. Going to school every day knowing youíre going to have to justify and explain everything you have done to someone becomes a great burden. After twenty-thirty years of this burden and never knowing when youíre going to be blamed or challenged will cause your enthusiasm to wane.

This would not be too bad if there were an abundance of teachers. But that is not the case. As many of you know, there is a tremendous need for qualified teachers. Sure we can put people in classrooms that come in from their previous career fields and are knowledgeable in what they are to teach.

The problem is they do not have a clue about preparing lesson plans. Or how to maintain discipline. Or how to prepare and distribute tests or quizes. Or conduct a parent-teacher conference. Or counsel a child who has lost a loved one to death or whose parents may be going through a divorce. Or just broke up with their own boyfriend or girlfriend.

And I havenít even mentioned the before or after school duties a teacher must perform. Or when you have to be in early or stay late for a faculty meeting. And then after all that someone will ask you to sponsor one of the schoolís clubs. Time, time, time. There was just never enough.

Please, donít even start with me on all the paid time teachers get off. Teachers get paid for so many days a year and thatís all. Think about this, some of your yearly bonuses are probably half of what a teacherís annual salary. Yeah, just try being a single parent on a teacherís salary.

Ah, I see my friends sitting in our favorite booth. My burden has been lifted. It has been shifted to shoulders younger and stronger. Not yet beat down. Peac

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   Last Update:  September 17, 2003