Public schools care for their students, tend to their minds and bodies, teach them about the world around them, and prepare them for the rest of their lives. Public schools do all of this primarily through their teachers. Students must support their teachers in order for the system to succeed.
I have learned a lot from my teachers, with the exception of one. Many argue that ineffective teachers such as this one ought to be fired. The problem is often blamed on the system of teacher tenure, with many claiming it encourages teachers to do a poor job. I disagree. If teacher tenure did not exist in its current form, teaching would not be a stable job. Helping children become thoughtful adults is no easy task, but many teachers are willing to do it for two reasons: first, they know that young people are the future, and second, though teaching does not pay nearly as much as it should, it is a relatively stable job.
I want better teachers, but the answer is not to fight teacher tenure. Without tenure, teaching would be a financially precarious profession. Worsening working conditions for teachers would not attract better teachers. If anything, it would cause those who would like to teach to seek employment elsewhere. If we want to recruit and retain the best teachers for our schools, we need to make teaching the best job for them. It is already one of the most important and rewarding jobs in the there is.
The problem is that teachers work too many hours for too little pay and, in expensive areas like the Bay Area, can’t afford to live close to their schools and must make long commutes on top of their long hours. If we want really good teachers, we need to reduce course loads, radically increase pay and benefits, and subsidize housing costs so that teachers can live closer to their schools. Indeed, one of the best ways that schools can help their students is by easing their teachers’ undue economic stress. Schools can also help their students by providing teachers with more opportunities for paid professional development.
Teachers work too many hours for too little pay and, in expensive areas like the Bay Area, can’t afford to live close to their schools and must make long commutes.
Schools are here to raise us. Our parents can’t do it alone. When we grow up, our communities will get back what they put in. Teachers put everything into their work because they do it for students, so whatever society puts into its teachers, it will get out of its next generation of young people.