Monday, September 3, 2012

"Because They Love Children"

Last week at the Republican National Convention, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that teachers do not teach because of the money, but because they love children. There was a discussion on Diane Ravitch's blog about why teachers enter the profession. Many readers of Ravitch's blog said they entered the profession because of their love for the subject area and/or their passion for learning. Obviously, you have to have a love of children in order to work effectively with them. However, I think the motive behind Christie and other people saying that "we do it because we love children" has more far reaching implications. 

In the past four years or so, many local governments have had to make drastic cuts to education in order to balance budgets. States have had to consider serious pension reform measures as well. Since education is usually the largest expenditure in most state and/or local government budgets, educators will be more impacted by these decisions than entities such as the police, firefighters, DMV employees, park rangers, etc. For example, all public employees in Florida were effected by a mandatory 3% state retirement plan contribution starting in July 2011, but the Florida Education Association is the entity leading the lawsuit against it in Tallahassee. 

Anyway, I believe that the comments about teachers doing their jobs "not to be rich, but because they love children" is code for "you must be willing to make whatever sacrifices we throw your way because you love children." If you love children, then you will still do you job with joy if we have to:

  •  raise your retirement contribution next fiscal year
  • ask you to add an extra hour to the school day  or days to the school year with no additional pay
  • cut supplements for extra periods of instruction or club sponsorships that require additional student contact time
  • compete with charter, private, and eventually virtual schools who are exempt from or merely do not operate in the same conditions as public schools
  • go without music, art, etc. to offer more remedial courses to raise test scores

I do not consider "they do it because they love children" as a full compliment. I see it as a conditional compliment with strings attached. 

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