Chatboards
Mailrings
Classifieds
Lessons
Jobs
Harry Wong
Projects
Live!
Gazette
Advertise
SUBSCRIBE | SUBMIT
Jan 2017
Vol 14 No 1
BACK ISSUES


I’m Sorry I’m a Teacher

By Alan Haskvitz
 



Alan Haskvitz is a member of the National Teachers Hall of Fame and has been recognized many times as one of the nation’s most successful and innovative teachers. Accounts of his students’ accomplishments have been featured in books, periodicals, and on national radio and television. He is a classroom teacher with experience at every grade level and every major subject area.

Add your comments following the article.

For over 45 years I have enjoyed making a living teaching. It hasn’t been easy or lucrative, but it had its rewards, one of which was a secure retirement plan.

Now, after reading the recent California Little Hoover Commission Report that recommends that public school retirements be reduced, even for those who are already retired,  and the actions of the Wisconsin Republican Party in accusing  teachers and their pensions and bargaining rights as mainly responsible for that state’s financial situation – I am sorry I became a teacher. I honestly didn’t mean to place so many states in danger of going bankrupt.

I also realize now that I am sorry to have chosen education as a career for other reasons. I am sorry that my wife may have to work until she is well beyond 70,  enduring the rigors of 12 hour shifts as a nurse. I am sorry that I  may become a burden to my children because my retirement income won’t cover the cost of extended care. I am sorry for those students I encouraged to become teachers, and for having told them to ignore the glow of the better paying professions.

I am sorry that the government is punishing me for being a civil servant by taking away over 60 percent of the Social Security benefits I had paid for during years of part-time work in the private sector to help put two children through college. I am sorry that, if I outlive my wife, I won’t be eligible for her Social Security benefits because I am a public servant.

I am sorry that the vast conservative media has chosen teachers as a target of loathing and hatred.

I am sorry that the right-wing politicians and conservative think tanks work to convince the public that  education would work better if all schools were private.

I am sorry that the producers of Waiting for Superman didn’t travel a few miles farther to see my school and talk to the parents and students. I am sorry that the writers of the movie didn’t get a chance to see what is really happening in America’s schools.

The bullying of educators, using misleading facts, is rampant. Most recently, Wisconsin teachers, fighting merely for the right to negotiate as a union, were accused of causing over seven million dollars of damages to the state capital building and grounds. The media spread that lie and never followed up with the fact that the damages never were properly assessed.(1) Sorry to say, but this is just one example of the media’s bullying of teachers. When is the last time the public learned that 145,100 public school teachers were physically attacked and that 276,000 were threatened with injury?(2)  And they say the press is liberal? (3)

I am also sorry that, as a teacher, I did such a poor job of teaching students to think for themselves, allowing the fear mongers to drug their critical thinking skills. I worry that I have done a poor job of teaching my students not to ask for proof when an organization says it offers fair and balanced news reporting.

Until today I never stopped to look at what my decision to become a teacher had cost. I wrote a letter to one of the commissioners on the Little Hoover Commission expressing how my decision to become a teacher had cost my family dearly and telling them that their findings made me sorry I had become a teacher.

The response was hardly unexpected. The secretary of the commissioner I wrote to responded by writing  that teaching is a valued profession. But it’s apparently not valued enough for the commission to advise the California legislature not to leave the teacher retirement plan alone. After all, the budget has to be balanced and God-forbid there is a tax increase. Sorry to say, their recommendations, if followed, would result in extensive court battles, legal costs, and the possibility that teachers would continue to be the scapegoats whenever the economy is troubled. By the way, sorry to say, not one member of the Little Hoover Commission is a teacher or educator, and the commission is dominated by big business members. The findings of the Little Hoover Commission are not unexpected given President Hoover’s legacy.

I left the financial world after tiring of the constant manipulation of the general public in order to add to the company’s bottom line. I am sorry I didn’t fight my temptation to help others and instead stay in the corporate world with a secretary, parking spot, executive dining room, paid-for college courses, free health care, my own office, and a chance to continue to hobnob with the movers and shakers of the world, from Richard Nixon and king maker Asa Call, to Ronald Reagan.  At age 22 I had my own upscale apartment in Los Angeles and a racing Cobra. Life was good and the pension plan was lucrative. I paid nothing into it. The company was going to move to a beach community and I would have been a made man. All I had to do was ignore my desire to help others.

Sorry, but I couldn’t resist; I entered a teaching college and, now, over 45 years later, I have a lot of apologies to hand out.

I know that my fellow teachers have spent decades teaching our students about the evils of bullying and to not tolerate it. The theme “Don’t be a Bystander” is one of our major lesson plans. And yet, I am sorry to say, we are now the ones being bullied. Perhaps it is time for us to join together and write letters, make phone calls, and express ourselves to our elected officials to let them know that there are millions of teachers who vote, and we won’t want them to be sorry.

[Read another essay on this topic: Lesson for Teachers: Why Elephants Protect Each Others’ Calves or What Loss of Union Representation Can Mean by James Wayne]

REFERENCES & RESOURCES:

1 Madison capitol damage lie

2 Teachers attacked, threatened

Press is not liberal – research

Copyright © 2011 Teachers.Net

Also: Teaching and Stress – Great sites to help reduce stress.

 

 



Comment on this article...

Next Article...
 
This entry was posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011 and is filed under *ISSUES, Alan Haskvitz, April 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.8 No.4 April 2011

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
How to Be an Effective Leader
Principal Judy Jones turned an academically unacceptable school into an exemplary school in just one year.


Cover Story by Alan Haskvitz
I'm Sorry I'm a Teacher
I honestly didn't mean to place so many states in danger of going bankrupt.

Articles
»At-Risk Kids: Cultural Bias is Part of Our CultureBill Page
»Earth Day, Ecology Theme Lessons, ActivitiesTeachers.Net Community
»Earth Day Ideas - Karen's PreK PageKaren Cox
»Earth Science Teaching Plans and Classroom ActivitiesNews Desk
»Great Site: EPA - Cleaning Up Our Land, Water and AirNews Desk
»MORE Earth Day Lessons, PrintablesTeachers.Net Resources
»12 Ways to Motivate Reluctant ReadersLaura Candler
»Making the GradeTodd Nelson
»12 Surefire Ways to Remember VocabularySusan Fitzell
»Music Makes Kids Smarter - Prove Me Wrong!Sharon Burch
»Obesity, Grammar, Curriculum and 2 More! Sites for Busy EducatorsMarjan Glavac
»How to Encourage Children to ReadElisabeth Greenfield
»BUSTED: Myths Exposed for New Teachers - Myth #1: The Way We've Always Done It Is BestBetsy Weigle
»School Counselor on Tattling Versus ReportingLeah Davies
»5 Ways to Bounce Back After a Bad DayMike Reading
»"Pitch & Shout" Instruction Method Really WorksBill Page
»April Writing Prompts - Fun and Interesting!James Wayne
»Mother's Day Gifts and ActivitiesTeachers.Net Resources
»Motivating the Reluctant LearnerDarren Barkett
»Math Stations Using Plastic Eggs!Heidi Samuelson
»Featured Recipes: French Toast CasserolesNews Desk
»Boomwhackers in Music ClassTeachers.Net Community
»My Classroom WallHumorist John P. Wood
»Quotes for Educators - Apple Seeds of InspirationBarb Stutesman
»April is... Special!Ron Victoria
»Substitute Teaching A - ZTeachers.Net Resources
»TMA Offers $5,000 Cash Prize to Outstanding TeachersNews Desk
»Edutools for e-Learning CommunityNews Desk
»FREE Printables for PreK - 12 TeachersTeachers.Net Community
»Printables for preK - 12 TeachersTeachers.Net Resources
»March Wind Science - Karen's PreK PageKaren Cox
»Links & LikesNews Desk

By State
AL   AK   AZ   AR   CA   CO   CT   DE   DC   FL   GA   HI   ID   IL   IN   IA   KS   KY   LA    ME   MD   MA   MI   MN   MS   MO   MT   NE   NV   NH   NJ   NM   NY   NC   ND   OH   OK   OR   PA   RI   SC   SD   TN   TX   UT   VT     VA   WA   WV   WI   WY