Why I Walked Out

teacher_walkoutsOver the past few weeks, teachers from 56 school districts across Washington state have been holding historic one-day walkouts. The public is asking: Why take this action? Aren’t you just hurting the kids and inconveniencing families? What’s your message?

Educators only want to do what is best for our students and their families, which is why we are taking this action. Teachers are walking out to send a loud and clear message to our elected officials.

A highly respected colleague of mine said it best: “Lawmakers allow profiteers to hold schools hostage, experiment on students, brainwash voters, and bully educators. They’ve made it clear that their ears are plugged, eyes are closed, and mouths are full of agenda. If we don’t speak up, who will?”

When I got my first teaching job in 1993, I was thrilled. I had been hired as a middle school English teacher just a few miles from where I had grown up. I couldn’t believe it. There were tears in my eyes.

Twenty-two years later, I still celebrate being an educator (I now teach English and Social Studies at Park Place Middle School in Monroe, Washington); legislators, however, seem more determined than ever to make me stop.

I walked out because elected officials are ignoring the will of the people. In 2000, voters said ‘yes’ to Initiative 732, which provided annual cost of living adjustments (COLA) for teachers. It has been suspended for the past six years. Twice Washington voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 728 and I-1351 to reduce class sizes, including last November. The legislature is taking the unprecedented move to overturn I-1351 instead of funding smaller classes our students need to thrive.

In what is known as the McCleary case (a state lawsuit filed in response to legislative inaction) the Washington Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the Legislature was failing to meet its constitutional duty to adequately fund basic education. The court went on to say the State could not simply decide to suspend voter-approved initiatives for “reasons unrelated to educational policy, such as fiscal crisis or mere expediency.”

It’s gotten to the point where the State Supreme Court has ruled the legislature in contempt of court for failing to meet its constitutional obligation to fund education.

I walked out for kids and their right to be exposed to creative opportunities in school. “Creativity now is as important as literacy,” says Sir Ken Robinson, “and we should treat it with the same status.”

I walked out because high-stakes standardized testing is developmentally inappropriate and highly stressful for young people.

I walked out so parents know they can opt out of high stakes tests. They have the real power. At Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, not a single junior took the new SBAC test in April. They were making a statement, and so are we.

I walked out for new teachers, who start at $34,048.00 on the state salary scale, despite a Bachelor’s Degree, huge student debt, the high cost of housing, countless hours worked outside the school day, a grueling new teacher evaluation system (TPEP), and rising inflation. I walked out for veteran teachers as well, who haven’t seen the voter-approved COLA in six years.

I walked out because we stand at the brink of an educational shift we may never be able to undo. Simply standing idly by and watching it happen is inexcusable.

I walked out because competitive compensation is a matter of principle. If we cannot recruit top teachers, where does that leave the profession?

I walked out as a show of solidarity for all educators who are committed to improving the lives and outlooks of young people.

I walked out for my current students and my future students (as well as past students, who may soon be sending their own children to public school.)

I walked out for university teaching programs around the nation, whose numbers are dwindling because college graduates cannot afford to go into the field of education.

I walked out because education is society’s last and best chance to level the playing field for all children.

I walked out so our legislators would wake up.

Chad Donohue teaches English, writing, and social studies at Park Place Middle School in Monroe, Washington. He also teaches composition and public speaking at Northwest University in Kirkland and blogs regularly for Teaching Tolerance.

Photos: Washington Education Association

  • Educator2015

    California needs the same.
    It’s sad how weak the unions are here. It’s sad that you can have educated fellow teachers that can’t understand that they need to strike and that striking is an invesent that pays off for years. It’s sad how our union ask EVERY YEAR what we’re willing to give up never asking us to fight. We have classes with up to 38 students which is outrageous. How can anyone properly teach with IEPS AND 504s in a class that big? YOU CANT and it’s just wrong! How about shrinking a science dept budget to $800 for 6 classrooms? Less than a dollar a student? Outrageous
    The solution is simple teachers…strike! But first requires a strong union. Oh well, nothing will change.

    • seeking_justice

      It is because of the unions’ strength that things are so stagnant. If there were open competition amongst schools and between teachers, it would force out the ineffective teachers and promote positive academic success for our youth. This would require the “professional” group of teachers to admit that they can think for themselves instead of having someone else doing their negotiating for them. If unions have to give up anything, ask yourself: what should I give up on so that I can earn what I deserve. The answer, in my opinion, is the clutch of the union on your purse strings.

      • Ted Harwood

        It is obvious that you are not a teacher. It is also obvious that you have been listening to the propaganda spread by the people who are behind the drive to privatize our public education system. They want to skim huge profits off of public education just like they are with the military and the prison system.

        • seeking_justice

          On my first day of teaching, I walked into the staff lounge and was met by a union representative talking to other staff members eating in the lounge. The first thing I was handed was a flyer that explained “Reasons why you should vote for Phil Angelides.”

          The union doesn’t trust that their members are smart enough to think for themselves and the way in which the school districts handle their contract negotiations and how they develop staff trainings suggests the same sentiment.

          Do you know that the union championed Common Core before the standards were even written, but now says they will help teachers fight against it? Do you know that the NEA donates charitable funds to radical Islamist front groups like ISNA and CAIR, who in turn funnel it to Al Qaeda, and now ISIS, and, were unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial? Do you really trust these people to do what is in your best interest? If you are a professional with a mind of your own, then you may not even need these folks to do all of this for you. You may not have even known that the union pees down the backs of their diligent teachers while protecting the weakest links. If you are okay with all of that, keep on your course. Good luck and God bless.

      • Brian Lewis

        Seeking Justice, I am so far to the right that some of my friends say Attila the Hun is to my left and that I make Rush L. look like Bill Clinton. I am not, however a cheat, stupid or a liar. Prior to the unions and the collective bargaining act in WA and other states I can guarantee you that the highest paid teachers in the vast majority of schools were the football and the basketball coaches. In larger districts their students were cherry picked for their classes. The lowest paid teachers were the first, second and third grade women who are the ones to start the kids learning to read, write, spell, subtract and multiply. If the administrators or the board wanted you to give a star athlete higher grades you did or got fired or got the worst kids in your classes as punishment. You want ineffective teachers fired? If you are a car builder would you let me pick the materials you will make into a car and I will make certain to pick some things like used beer cans and milk cartons. The day teachers get to pick who they work with and what is being done in their homes they need to be evaluated as most ignorant people say. I spent 33 years as a teacher, coach principal and district superintendent. I have had two home businesses and ran a cedar pole and piling plant for the largest cedar pole company in the world. Tell the parents they need to see that the kids study in a QUIET, NO NOISE, including tv and music. place a minimum of two hours a day and some on the weekends. Some kids need more. They need to insist that disruptive kids be removed from classes and sent home. Yes sent home!!! Classroom management was a term invented by administrators and board members who did not want to do their jobs. The teachers I hired were not there to be psychiatrists, psychologists, entertainers, pr parents. They were there to teach. As a principal or superintendent it was my job to get across to the kid and the parent thea the kid had better not steal someone else chance to learn or face the consequences that most certainly wold increase to a level they would not like if they did not comply. Its not the teacher or the union its all the rest.

        • seeking_justice

          As someone who measures a 3 out of 100 on Denis Prager’s “Are you a liberal?” test, I can say that I thought I was alone in this field of education. I still believe that I am. I keep Christian, conservative, constitutionally based principles and I find it hard to believe that someone in the industry for so long could maintain their values without compromising them. If you have, huzzah for you!

          Freedom requires responsibility, but as you know, many fall short. If schools should make choices for parents rather than help parents help themselves and their students, then what service is the school providing? If you did this with your cedar pole business you would have gone out of business. Perhaps a re-evaluation of the entire school “business model” is in order. No more mandatory schooling. No more wasted tax dollars on inept teachers or uninterested students/parents. No more social promotion to students who are athletes or need their self-esteem massaged.

          Besides, if you think that your clients are the problem–and not your colleagues, think about how many teachers are protected by the union for doing shoddy work or not even doing their job. Think of all the teachers who have molested children, hit kids, and indoctrinated them with their leftist slant against the very principles you claim to cherish.
          If you go too far to the right you get Fascism. If you go too far to the left you get Communism. On the other hand, if you stick with God, justice, and the Constitutional principles upon which our freedom was founded, then you should see that the system is crippling these principles every day.

      • Nodoginthisfight

        And you think adding one more thing like negotiating with administration is a good idea!? Our administration does not have time during the school day to negotiate with individuals or departments/grade levels. Then most administrators leave very soon after school because they gave families, duties, etc. after school. Leave it to summer? With more than 500 teachers in some corporations? Even with a two or three year contract – Are you kidding?

        • seeking_justice

          Actually, the whole beast is too big because union and government interference has made it so bloated and unmanageable. There are tons of private sector jobs that don’t require some paid third party to step in and do your negotiating and contracting for you.
          Why is it like that for schools? Partly because unions have set up annual contract negotiations (to give them a recurring purpose) and because school districts get their money from state and federal programs that are championed by the teacher’s unions. In California they are talking about trying to help the teachers change Common Core so it better suits everyone’s needs, but the sad fact is that the teacher’s unions here, which are the biggest lobby in California, helped to get Common Core passed before they even knew what it was about because there was a promise of great funding tied to it!

          • landrews

            I have been a teacher for 8 years, after a previous career and raising my kids. I love teaching and put my heart and soul into it. Those unions are what got teachers a decent salary and some job protections in a society that has never paid teachers well. I studied labor relations college so I know the history well ; before the unions, teachers had no job security, women were harassed in the work place by male administrators and so on and so on. Male teachers made much more money that females in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I could go on for pages about how unions have helped teachers survive in an unfriendly climate. These days, in the media, educators are to blame for everything that is perceived to be wrong with education. I feel unions (all types) are weaker than they used to be. They are now very fearful of striking because it is another way for the media to slam teachers and unions again. Regarding common core….. who the heck was driving that bus?? Every state jumped on board way to quick in an effort to get away from NCLB testing and “high pressure to teach to the test” mentality. No, I don’t think CC is better, but the unions are not the only ones to blame for common core. Many ‘expert educators’ felt it would be a vast improvement. The problem has really been a much too accelerated role out nation wide. CA supposedly has funding for new books and training to support common core. But my affluent district still has no new books for the new school year in math, science, or social studies. Yet I need to implement CC now! Yes, we have lots of ‘training’ but no time allotted to study and implement the new skills, everything is too rushed. The rush comes from our school administrators. As an elementary teacher I am supposed to change the way I teach every subject and spend more time on each area; yet my school day is the same length of time and we still cram it all into 180 days.. There are a lot of problems with the new common core- mostly the accelerated role out. Our state agreed to putting it in place without thinking through the implications of the deadlines placed on schools.

          • seeking_justice

            Tell me, if you are such a good teacher, why would you happily support a union that promotes poor quality teachers getting paid more by virtue of their time served? Don’t you think that students who work hard should earn an “A” instead of just students who are the oldest? If you ran your classroom like the unions and administration run the schools, you would have a glut of parents asking for their kids to be taken out of your class.

      • Jae Jae

        Two years ago I left my profession (at which I made a six-figure salary) in order to teach. I always wanted to teach, so I decided to make the switch. What I saw was abysmal. And, it has nothing to do with the unions, by far. More than anything, it is about a lack of will on the part of the public and the parents.

        Today’s parents are under extreme economic and social pressures. Big business pays wages with which even two-parent household can’t do more than survive on, so the needs of the children and their studies must take a back seat to keeping a roof over the family’s heads, working multiple shifts and extended hours. Students all too often don’t see the benefit of an education, so many are just biding their time until they can legally escape the system. And, teachers are abused by the system while being underpaid.

        From the perspective of the individual citizen/voter: Get real. What has been asked of educators due to legislation and case law is simply impossible. Good ideals and ideas, but the practical application is literally impossible. Get educated on the subject before pointing fingers.

        Spend some time in the schools across this country – not just during the Christmas pageant. Contribute time, see first hand what is going on in the classrooms because legislators with no expertise in education are dictating policy. Charter schools are part of the problem. The profit motive is pushing resources out of the public schools and the results are no better, often worse.

        Pay teachers a respectable salary, respect what they do and get politics out of education and the classroom – just three next-best-steps if the country is going to have a truly educated citizenry down the road.

        Expenditures for crime and punishment always seem to be successful. How about true prevention like funding education and fostering student growth, not just hoop-jumping exercises.

        Since I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, I am taking proactive steps from the outside to support teachers rather than throwing darts. No one of any level of competence will be left in the classroom if the current situation continues. The students deserve better than the race to the bottom (line) that business practice suggests. Remember, ultimately, one does get what one pays for overtime. Our students need classrooms with the best and the brightest.

        • seeking_justice

          If you suggest that parents’ financial and social issues are the problem and that big businesses don’t pay them enough, how is it that paying the big unions’ teachers more–thereby raising tax burdens on the communities these poor folks live in–make their plight any less significant? If anything your argument encourages more of the same problem.

          • Jae Jae

            Seems you missed the point, but it is, of course, your prerogative to believe whatever you wish.

  • Educator2015

    One more thing
    Is CTA doing anything? All the commercials for nothing? How about always showing the little kiddie classrooms with 25 students, the apple in the background, the young female teacher, etc?! Outrageous! How about showing the high school chemistry classes with 45 students and the male teacher? How about an aggressive media campaign showing reality? Oh well.. Again it won’t change. Business as usual

  • Mamasama

    Bravo!

  • Ravi

    I am 70-years old and entered teaching as a second career. I have to work as sub because I lost my job at 65 due to age and in the Washington Metro school districts, no one wants to hire you if you’re over 40.
    I am highly cynical about the ability of Americans to think through an issue that has more than two points. Americans have become single-agenda people and looking at an issue in the overall context of the country is beyond our capacity.
    In education, thinking of any sort has become impossible because of the agenda of some people – with money – to privatize American public education so they can extract rent from taxpayers. You have made this point.
    I admire your enthusiasm and commitment to principle. You are a reason we need young people in education because us oldies have become cynical and disillusioned. The sole remaining hope is folks like you. The idea of the people in saying how this country is run has become a quaint inconvenience to those with money who believe they have the right to rule.
    BTW, I am a hard-right conservative, not a liberal. But letting money decide every issue is a betrayal of the principles on which America is founded and anti-American. We should worry less about Islamic State and more about the barbarians rampaging within our gates.

    • Danielle Jordan

      Ravi, I am 63 and teaching in New Mexico. I was pulled by your statement, “I am highly cynical about the ability of Americans to think through an issue that has more than two points.” Yet our students are expected to do far more. I too want America to wake up. Across this great land, teachers are pouring their knowledge, time, and hearts into their students, and yet we are not being listened to. The evaluation system, no matter what state you teach in, has gone crazy. I am also a “hard-right” conservative and believe I give my very best to God, country, and students. The trend that education has been caught up in for so very long has got to stop!!! Just saying–

      • Ravi Rikhye

        Thank you. I am told that America functions in 80-year cycles, subdivided into four 20-year cycles. Every 20-years there is a radical change, and after 80-years it goes back to the default position. Apparently we are due for the 80-year change. One must hope things will change, because after a certain point they can get no worse and change must come.
        Working as a substitute is hard on the bank account, but at least I can detach myself from the current madness, unlike you.
        To back you on your saying we expect our kids to so much, I was at a Middle School where they have 15 Algebra 2 students. But the unit they were doing was pre-Calc. So they don’t know how to do Algebra 2 but they’re expected to do pre-Calc? It was terrible to see how much pressure they were under. Because I refused to give them answers during quizzes/tests, and I did not let them share information during testing, the parents asked the principal to replace me for “not being a good fit”. BTW, I have five APCs and five masters degrees, and am working on a sixth certification and 6th Masters certifications I was happy to leave because I sub only at one school and I was missing my own kids.
        But what really hurt me is there were so many really great 6-8th graders doing age appropriate math, really involved and enthusiastic. The school just was not bothered with them at all. Everything was about the 15 Alg 2 kids so that the school and the parents could boast about that.
        Also, BTW, had I been required to do Math Common Core when I was in school in the late 1950s, I would have so flunked. How are kids supposed to reason when they don’t have any facts with which to reason?

  • MarineBob

    hockeym1 is totally correct. Why would anyone willingly take on huge debt then complain about it when they should know the profession they chose will not pay off the debt? That is not smart. There needs to be some basic rules for teaching in a public school and a massive overhaul of the public school system in this country.

    1) Get Bill Gates and his federally supported Common Mediocrity Curriculum out of the public schools. Keep school control local
    2) No one should be allowed to teach in a public school unless you have worked at a ‘for profit’ business for at least 5 years.
    3) No one can teach in a town where they live
    4) no unions allowed
    5) You can not teach in a school where your kids attend
    6) You can not stay at the same school for more than 15 years
    7) No one can teach until they are at least 27 years old
    8) Work needs to include the summer months (no summer off)

    This list is a start and as I noted, it would require a massive overhaul of the system in this country. But until that is done, nothing will change, teachers will complain they do not make enough money, the tax payers will say there is no money, Bill Gates will direct public education, unions will fund the heck out of liberal, bleeding hear progressive candidates who know squat about education. Nothing will change and people will complain they are in debt making themselves look stupid

    • Tim Luken

      Is this supposed to be a joke? With your set of criteria to become a teacher I would say in 5 years there would be a handful of teachers left in this country. As far as being required to work in a for profit business what a joke. I guess the only benefit that would serve is to show people how not to run a school.

      • MarineBob

        Yeah, but they would be effective and highly compensated. Then the country would wake up and rattle the system

    • A to Z

      As a teacher, I don’t totally disagree with you. I would, however, like to ask you to elaborate on #3.

    • Oh my…

      Sorry, Marinebob, but maybe teachers take their jobs seriously so they can teach people proper grammar skills, like how to know when to use “than” and “then”, like you mistakenly used in your first sentence.

      We willingly take on that debt so we can nurture youth (not unlike yourself at some point) to fight for their dreams, work hard, and persevere in an every changing world. I also find your list to be ridiculous, even though I fit the criteria perfectly.

      • Edward Thorson

        Sorry, Oh my, while I agree with most everything you wrote, and totally disagree with Marinebob, your correction of grammar was incorrect. Step one was to take on the debt, THEN (next) came the complaints. Marinebob needs to take a shot of reality and walk a mile or two in the shoes of a teacher.

    • Karen Thompson

      MarineBob, it’s obvious you have never taught. I worked for 15 years as a printing press operator in the so-called real world and the past 17 years as a teacher. Never did I endure the mental stress in printing as I have as a teacher. Now your list: #1 I know nothing of because I teach in Missouri. #2 most people do work in a ‘for profit’ business while going to school. #3 I don’t even know where to begin (if I live in St. Louis, I’m working in St. Louis). #4 You have no idea the real reason for unions, to keep those in charge from taking advantage of those who are not, I know many people with union jobs outside of education and it’s rare they leave them. Why is it the majority of people are hostile towards teachers unions but not other labor unions? #5 I personally have never done this, but I work with teachers who do have their kids at our middle school, and when I worked at elementary, and it’s never been a problem, I’m not sure what your beef is with this, as a parent I know it would have made my life much easier if they were on the same schedule as me #6 Why? How many people in the private sector have been at the same place for 20 to 30 years, it hasn’t effected the way they do their job. Why is it any different with a teacher? That makes no sense!!! #7 I became a teacher at 34. Most of the teachers I work with are a good 20 to 30 years younger than me, and I have learned so much from them as they have from me. New and old make great teams. #8 First of all it’s no longer 3 months, it’s 2, June & July.;) In my district teachers report back the first week of August. This was one of the perks I seeked in becoming a teacher. At my other ‘for profit’ job I was convinced if I could just get away from my job for about 8 to 10 weeks at one time, I’d come back refreshed and ready to go!! If you taught you would know how kids suck the air from your sails. By the time August rolls around I’m rejuvenated, and excited to start all over again. I love kids, and I love teaching them, but let’s be real, they’re still other people’s kids.
      I bet you couldn’t do it for a month Bob.
      PS. Every industry is whining about student loans, not just teachers. I paid for mine as I went along, and I received academic scholarships. If I had gotten a loan, I simply would have paid them like I do my home loan, my car loan, and my farm loan. I believe the real complaint here is that a teacher has to get a master’s degree in order to get raises, unlike other industries. I have a master’s and I know guys who have associate’s who make far more than me. That is the key concern; the requirement of education doesn’t match the pay.

      • Obdurate Verity

        Karen- TLDR – to sum up your response. Whahhhh.

        • Emilie

          Obdurate, to sum up yours: Derp derp derp.

      • MarineBob

        It is ‘obvious’ I have taught for over a decade. It is not obvious that I flew jets in the Marine Corps and watched friends and comrades die. Want to talk about stress? It is not obvious that for over 2 decades I worked at a strongly, openly anti-union Fortune 100 company. Want to talk about stress? Want to talk about working hours after 5 PM? Weekends? Want to talk about being paid for your level of contribution to the organization and not just look at the pay chart?

        It is obvious I know what world class looks like and it ain’t this country’s public schools. (Oh look, he typed ain’t)

        Another issue that I see is the administration in most schools. Think about this: one day you are a teacher, most likely dissatisfied with the pay, hours, job requirements. You think you can lead. You have never lead or managed anything, likely a poor classroom manager at best.

        So, take a few classes and presto, the next day you are responsible for, let’s say, 100 or more, ‘knowledge workers.’ You never had anything like that type of responsibility, you were not satisfied being a teacher, you are most likely non-confrontational because you don’t want the union to file a grievance with the local school committee. So its business as usual. What organization, anywhere would anoint anyone with that responsibility and expect a successful outcome? Only our public school systems.

        I can understand the anachronistic need for unions, but people need to realize that teachers are now a commodity. As is mentioned elsewhere, there is a surplus given the amount of tax money available to hire teachers. Who, with a straight face, can say that a phys-ed/health teacher ought to be paid as much as a chemistry teacher, s skilled foreign language teacher or someone who is skilled at teaching B/C Calc? Unions think everyone ought to be paid the same.

        Sounds a lot like socialism. Not fair pay. You do a better job, you get more money.

        I do not have a detailed plan how the system needs to be fixed, but it is dreadfully broken and is failing the country. No plan does not mean there is a need for fix in’.

        Problem is, people seem to want to think if there is no plan to fix something, it must not be broken. I have seen several sides of teaching: from inside and outside. It is obvious I understand the issues and those inbred in the system have a very hard time accepting it needs to change radically.

        It is clear that Bill Gates et. al. and their continuous testing plans will not solve anything.

        • Clay Crawford

          My guess is that you couldn’t cut it in the Marines. You got passed over too many times for promotion, and got forced out. Obviously couldn’t cut it at your fortune 100 company either.
          I’m retired Navy.
          So please tell, as a Marine Pilot, you got what?
          Base Pay
          BAQ
          Probably VHA
          Flight Pay
          Maybe hazardous Duty pay.
          Current pay chart for an O-3 with over 3 years of service is $4,787 per month. Just to make it easy, $4,700 times 12 months is $56,400. My teachers pay chart maxes out well before that.
          So give a teacher Officer pay from the military, and we will shut up. I mean get real.
          I made more as an E-6 at 10 years than I do as a teacher.
          You just sound like a bitter old man.

          And you can’t even play by your own rules.
          Seems you “volunteered” for the Military, stop complaining about the duty hours and the long deployments. You don’t want to hear teachers whine about working outside the school hours.
          And one last question.Why did you become a teacher? Because you knew how great it was, and loved the kids and wanted to use your experience to help kids grow and develop? That’s why most of us are here. The other things are inconveniences. It all about the kids for us.
          You just sound like a bitter old man who couldn’t cut it any where else and teaching was the only option left for you. That makes you one of the “Bad” teachers, that just whine.
          Grow up.
          The education system is BROKE and needs to be fixed. But it’s like a ship, and we don’t have the same damage or problems in every place. Each has their own.
          But pay, the issue you avoided so well, seems to be universal. No other profession requires such high standards for certification and then pays so little. None.
          And California is raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour.
          I am a second year teacher (my second career) but I’d like to make that. You mean to tell me you think it is ok to pay the snot nosed teenager from high school MORE than we pay teachers with a Masters degree?
          Maybe you should have just accepted Enlisted pay, and felt grateful to fly jets for the military. Hows that for compensation? See?

      • MarineBob

        Your comment about people being at the same job for 20-30 years and not impacting their job? Exactly the problem….nothing changes, You have the facts right but you have reached the wrong conclusion.
        If you know people who make more with an associates deg then you might consider that profession: think what a Master’s degree would bring. Or maybe the teaching Master’s isn’t quite that valuable?
        The real issue is that teaching does not require a master’s deg to be good at the job. However, unions and the government want to put on a show. The result, get a master’s deg. Then the unions say give us more money. Its a vicious, stupid cycle. People should be paid for performance, not degrees.
        One of the more amazing things I have seen is some of the people who have doctorates in education. Amazing! I believe many of them were awarded their degrees simply because they were lucky enough to get the 4th sheet on the roll. These people have about as much business with a doctorate as this country needs more liberals.

    • mbhaub

      Bob, other than numbers 3 & 6, I agree with you so much. #3 you realize in impossible for teachers who live in small communities. #6 – the value of institutional memory is huge, huge, huge.

  • Bob Sanborn

    After 40 years of teaching, it has been proven to me over and over again that we educators are at the bottom of the food chain for funding. (Private schools are where legislators send their kids, evidently). Our wages and retirements are in peril. Only God knows where this will lead us as a society, because we have run out of excuses for mediocre student performances and now teachers are blamed. That is tantamount to blaming cancer on the Doctors treating it. Nice try Olympia…but the real responsibility lies with you and the parents who are crippling the very last institution that could help our kids be true successes.
    Bob Sanborn

  • djb

    And I’m sure they replaced you when you retired with a part-timer. They did me.

  • Educator2015

    I believe any reasonable person would agree with you. Why isn’t the whole union striking? Why do teachers always complain that they don’t want to hurt their students by striking? I say DO IT! the minimal hurt on this years students to help the next 20 years of students? That’s a good investment and the fault of the legislature for inaction.

  • Lifetime learner

    I think you should show your educator parents what you wrote and how you despised their sacrifices for you. Oh, yes, you also might have gotten through college a little faster if they had been fairly compensated for their work as educators and had been able to help with the cost of a college degree. I suspect they realized that they had been too generous to you and had raised an ungrateful entitled and completely selfish brat, though, and didn’t want to add insult to injury by continuing to support you in your pity party. It is sad that while they were working to improve the world through education, their own child didn’t respect them enough to appreciate what they were really doing for the world you would inherit. You poor baby. You forget that a few of your tax dollars help support education but certainly don’t foot the bill, while the rest of your tax dollars fund your right to remain and wallow in your own stupidity. I am sure your parents are proud of how you have grown up to be such a productive and contributing member of society. You represent the students who can read and write but are clueless to the fact that somebody else taught them those skills. You were not born with the need to take others for granted and puff yourself up. Your parents worked with students like you and prayed their efforts would make a positive difference. You must have been absent during the lessons on common sense and self respect. Bummer, dude. Your incurable ignorance is showing.
    Fortunately for you, there will be no test you have to pass to continue on your chosen path. You definitely could use a reality check, but through your post, it is pretty clear you wouldn’t get it, anyway.

  • Another teacher

    I’m curious about your own working career, since you compared it to teaching. How much was your salary? What were your working conditions like? Could you go get a glass or water to ease a sore throat? Did you ever have to move a classroom of students away from someone with a gushing nosebleed or vomiting or convulsions, in a calm caring way of course. Just a few thoughts that came to me while I read yours… Don’t forget, teachers need to be responsible for the safety, physical and emotional health of their student besides their education. Do you still think a teacher is not worth a reasonable salary, and respect?

    • Obdurate Verity

      I think people should enter a profession where they feel adequately compensated. If you don’t think you appreciated simply quit and move on. Stop belly aching. Just because you teach does not make special, heroic or worthy of idolization. You are just a teacher.

      • Bronwyn

        Obdurate Verity, it’s pretty obvious you only come to this site- for the National EDUCATION Association- to troll.

        FYI, I have multiple university degrees from some of the most elite, selective, old-moneyed schools in the country. That alone makes my inherent “specialness” far exceed yours, I daresay. Moreover, I chose to take my education and become a public school teacher because I am concerned about the state of the public education system in America and wanted to make a difference in a direct way. I chose a career of ethical worth over a career that would pad my bank account. That makes me, yep, exceedingly special. Get over yourself; you’re just some internet douchebag troll.

  • Sharon

    I taught elementary school for 40 years and was a teachers’ association rep for over 25. Teachers and policemen are now looked upon as public servants in the truest sense of the term. The job becomes more and more difficult. Walking out, slow down, etc. are always methods of the last resort. Our association never did it, but came close. Personally, I would feel that I was hurting my students by taking such action.

  • tctiptop

    First, thank you for your comment! I agree with you. People like this, with such elitist attitudes do not serve our profession well. Ten or twelve month pay, -because someone in payroll doesn’t want to do the math, isn’t close to the real cost of being a teacher, let alone being able to live close enough to enjoy being one. With my three hour commute each way, I still put in nine to ten hours a day before I went home. I did that for my students, instead of hearing a bell and locking the door on my way out. Those who can, TEACH! Those who can’t, TALK about teachers, and usually in the negative. The best parents in the world have never had children! Same thing!

    Teachers are with students more hours in a day than parents, and the same is true, even for teachers who have their own children waiting for them, at home. Since students are awake when we see them in our classrooms, sleeping hours don’t count unless the student sleeps in class as well! Been there, had to deal with that!

    Summers are filled with work! Teaching is not a profession for the selfish or high-minded. Materials, plans, supplies, all gets top billing in the summer. Teaching isn’t a profession to ‘turn off’ simply when the summer season is at hand. Teaching also is not for the nine-to-fiver!
    Any ol’ factory will do ya, there! They have plenty of ladders to climb. Mostly going nowhere that matters, but hey, climbers don’t care, as long as they are moving up.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a teacher and teach what you know and love. The problems persist when it has been decided that teachers need to become students! The education system has enough waste as it is. Instead of targeting teachers as the reason for excessive spending on professional development, HEY! That is why teachers have all those student loans!! Teachers have become experts at their chosen field, now let them just do their job! Teachers know how to do it, and do it well. Teachers are not puppets! Pay off teacher loans and they’ll go back to school! How about some quality control measures in say, book distribution, real, up-to-date working computers for ALL teachers and students, or sound, technologically efficient, reliable adequate bulk copiers, decent restroom facilities for all students AND staff?

    How about having security personnel on campus grounds where they actually get up and WALK around campus? What financial justification is there for the need of a golf cart to tote security around, seriously? They miss ALL the hiding spots, pot clubs, ditchers, smoochers and players that way! Fitness role models they are not.

    How about having offices staffed with real professionals? Ones that know how to answer phones quickly, politely and address issues efficiently? Why is it that teachers receive bulletins that are never proofread? Accuracy is everyone’s responsibility, not just teachers! Stop wasting ink and paper to tell everyone about retirement parties, activities for special interest groups, and on/off campus clubs, then turn around and tell teachers there isn’t enough paper to print out worksheets or tests for their classrooms!

    How about having custodians that know how to clean a floor, not just move the dirt around? If they were paid adequately, the right ones might even clean a desk or two! Stop taking such great care of the keep-up-with-the-Jones’s campus grounds on the outside, -using extremely loud machinery, resulting in fumes, flying debris, and audio interruption of class time, and take care of what really matters, the teachers and students on the inside! Peeling paint, teachers can teach with that. Healthy, mold-free, all-functioning, working classrooms, teachers can’t teach and students can’t learn without them!

    Consequences for behavior has been all but eliminated, so why should behavior-challenged students worry about earning a passing grade anyway? They are getting a free ride on every taxpayer’s back! It’s called social promotion, still, even with common core! Students are little darlings in elementary school, for the most part. When they go to middle and high school, the angels disappear. They are bigger, talkative, testy, and moody. That is their job, after all they’re teenagers.

    Teaching is not a profession to be looked down upon! However, learning needs to take place in a positive learning environment, not one full of worn out, financially strapped, overworked, unreliable, underpaid teachers. This would have never happened if teachers were treated as if they mattered. Benefits are insulting, not those of the grandiose imaginings of the public. Excessive union dues are being still paid to the worst system of unions this country has ever seen. Unions are now a big joke, especially on teachers. All they do is use our money to buy ugly tee-shirts, make posters and yell a lot at school sites. They ask teachers what they can do without, instead of TELLING the district what teachers NEED to do their job well! They turned into a little army for the politicians to do their bidding, and theirs only.

    Teachers hold the minds of tomorrow in their hands and this is how the country treats each and every one! America should be so ashamed! Other countries laugh at the U.S.educational system, as they too take full advantage of every loophole, every discount, every shortcut there is. Should teachers now smile as they bend over too?

  • Obdurate Verity

    If you don’t like the pay, quit. Easy peasy. I would fire you all for job abandonment.

    • Tired

      So you are in Washington? Was this inconvenient for you? Realize the world does not revolve around you!

  • Obdurate Verity

    I think the Department of Education should be disbanded, education returned to the state level, and people have the choice to utilize private schooling of their choice. The NEA and the DE is the evil that drives mediocrity.

    • Brian Lewis

      33 years as a teacher, coach principal and district superintendent and I agree. The states have the responsibility for this in the constitution and NOT the feds. Before the Dept. of Ed. the feds gave about 7-9% of the budget of a school district. They took more than that from the states in taxes but gave that little sum back. Now with the Dept. of Ed. they take much more in taxes and still only give about 7-9% and want to regulate every decision made. The state legislators and governors should just tell them to keep their money and stay out of their state. then the people need to force their U.S. senators and reps to lower federal taxes that amount of money. As for the NEA, its a total loss. The state teachers and administrators groups do a much better job. I do agree that CA needs to upgrade their state association as I was in CA for ten yrs. and it looked pretty corrupt to me. It looked as some of the state officers actually helped local education group leaders and boards and administrators steal money.

    • QAdvocate

      I think the opposite. States have run their own schools for years and we are now ranked in the 61st percentile in education excellence. Put another way, our A+ student is a C or D student in other countries and let us not forget our children will be competing for jobs against other countries better educated students for jobs and our country for a piece of the global economy.

      Common-core is the closest we have come to one integrated system and teacher unions undermined it, and students with it, from the moment the picked writers and curriculum developers to to write and develop. In the leading countries teachers teacher, writers write and developers develop.

      And we really want to up our game parents need to be involved and the teacher track has to stop being one of the lowest degree tracks offered at universities. In the end, our quality of education can never exceed the quality of the teacher.

  • Tired

    That was said very well! I am a teacher in Florida for 17 years and after 6 years of not a step or raise, now having to pay $400 a month for all of my medical benefits and having no opportunity to take the sick days I have accumulated over my years (getting only 10 a year), since the district has decided teachers have to be in the classroom always (all professional development is now to be outside school hours, often without pay) and at the whim of the elected superintendent, I agree the system needs to be fixed fast.

  • macsis

    Frankly, hockeym1, I think you are an idiot. I work more than 9 months out of the year. We have school from the first week of August until the day after Memorial Day in May. I work during the summer to get my professional development requirements and to prepare for the next year. I have a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, and Specialist in Education degree. I have 36 years experience. My salary “topped out” about 10 years ago. I can’t even remember the last time I had a raise large enough each month to go out to dinner anywhere but Krystal. (2 burgers, small fry, water) Each year more and more is required of me. My effectiveness depends on the preformance of 7 year olds who I don’t have time to teach because I must test them without ceasing. I don’t quit because I like teaching children. If you can show me any other profession where someone who has as much education and experience in his own field, with as many demands and variables each day and makes as little money and gets as little respect as a teacher, then I will be very surprised. What an ungrateful, disrespectful post! Your must really hate your parents to have felt the need to slam teachers with such a nasty tirade.

  • mbhaub

    It always amuses and frustrates me how ignorant teachers are of basic economics. The reason teacher salaries are depressed is simple: there is an oversupply of teachers. Not in all areas, of course. The district I retired from does pay small stipends to people who can actually teach higher math, physics, and special ed simply because there are very few teachers who can teach those subjects. Teachers betray their socialist, government-knows-best leanings when they fail to understand basic supply and demand. Add to it the well-known statistic that teachers tend to come from the bottom of the SAT/ACT pool, and there are many, many students who graduate who can’t spell, write clearly, punctuate, do basic math, or demonstrate a reasonable mastery of history and you have a situation where most people don’t think teachers deserve any more. Not until teachers change and make the system better. And one other thing: my retirement pension is better than anything anyone I know in the private sector can imagine. Don’t complain.

  • beenteaching21years

    hockeym1 . . . you sound like someone who really hates their parents. What did they do to you to make you hate them so bad? Do you really think they made an adequate income to raise you and your siblings? MAYBE SO if you are an only child. You sound like you have some resentment because you had to hear them lament about their jobs and the jobs of teachers at their school/s. Did you ever stop to think that there was some validity in their comments about their work? No, I can imagine with a mentality such as yours, you did not. Have YOU ever taught in a classroom with 40+ students? Have YOU ever stopped into the schools after hours to see how many teachers were still there working or during the SUMMER to see how many teachers were already in their classrooms working? (for no pay I must add). No I didn’t think so. Until you have, stop disrespecting your parents (and others) profession and let your parents know how much you appreciated them GOING to a ‘thankless’ job everyday so they could support someone like you!!

  • discarded teacher

    Use – abuse – discard – repeat!!! This is what I am seeing happening to teachers. I am a 38 year veteran teacher, science, high school – college – middle school, teacher of the year, who was just let go from a nationally recognized charter school system. No reason given, no exit interview, no warning leading up to letting me know- a complete blind side. it wasn’t that I was not doing my passion (it has never been a job) – my students beat the average on the in-house exams in spite of overwhelming odds for the students and no resources for one class. I taught 8 sections a week of chemistry and physics to middle school students – this was NOT physical science, seeing over 210 students three times a week for a total of 630 contacts with these students in addition to 11 half hour “baby sitting” sections. This school system is hiring people from other countries to come to the U.S. to teach for lower wages using the excuse that they cannot find qualified teachers here. I am done with teaching. Politicians wake up! Yes it is about the kids, BUT IF YOU DON’T TAKE CARE OF THE TEACHERS WHO WILL BE LEFT TO TEACH THE CHILDREN? PARENTS WAKE UP!!!

  • BoBo the clown

    I have been in education 14 years…. before this I owned a heating – air conditioning company …was in the Air Force ….fixed.computers….volunteer firefighter…. teaching is the most exhausting thing I have ever done….. but the problem is my coworkers have no idea how to teach kids about the real world because they have been in education all their lives and are blindly led by the unions that make no effort to make education better for students. with that said I agree standardized testing must go away and we should use the Finland model where teachers are highly trained and weak teachers are booted. the biggest problem though is our parents that no longer want to spend time at home making sure their kids are learning at home as well as at school. the next problem is inclusion which means I spend most of my time with badly behaved kids or mental health kids who like screaming and jumping on furniture and distracting other kids from learning. Nuf said

  • teacherman

    hockeym1, you’re a complete fool, with no understanding whatsoever of the challenges faced by teachers. You clearly never understood the purpose or meaning behind what your parents were doing for work, or even the fact that the educational world has dramatically changed since your parents were teachers. You represent the idiocy that has suppressed the genius in this country and eroded what made this society great in the first place. Education is everything, and yet in area, this country it is headed down a hill with no bottom. You sound like you can’t even conceive what it would be like to be a parent and be concerned about your own children. Or maybe you’re one of those people who seeks to blame others (preferably teachers) for any challenges you’ve faced as a parent. Unlike you, I have actually worked for many many years both as a professional scientist and as a teacher, and have a perspective that you will clearly never acquire with your blindness to the ‘real world.’ I have not only worked on complex projects in applied science, well beyond your capacity for understanding, but have taught in both public and private institutions, in venues from middle school through higher education, as a teacher of multiple areas of science, and as a coach. I’m highly educated and experienced, with diplomas and advanced degrees from multiple Ivy League Colleges & Universities. I was never given anything in life for free. I worked and paid my way through every educational experience, and had to invest intensely in time and energy to achieve. I managed to get good grades while working in the dining halls and as a painter and carpenter, and then worked even harder to pay off my student loans. Spare me and everyone else your callous stupidity. Plain and simple – I know what both intense work is like in school, in the private sector, and what the current sad realities of the educational world truly represents. Until people like you, I earned everything I got through grit and determination. Get a clue. The educational and intellectual capacities of this great country (where so many from all over the world flock for superlative learning opportunities) our entire educational system will continue in its death spiral, eating up and spitting out well-intended and selflessly generous people who seek only to serve others as teachers, and it will continue to degrade as a system that offers less and less in terms of learning opportunities. I would suggest that you go get a job in teaching, work for 3-5 years, or until you get a reality check on what’s really going on, and then maybe you’ll get a better perspective on your own presumptuousness enough to actually respect your parents for what they attempted to accomplish in their lives. Given what you wrote, you likely wouldn’t learn even then. Some minds are shut off from any form of evolution. Until then, you are doing far less than nothing to help the current situation, and I’m left wondering why someone like you would waste their time lambasting a profession you know nothing about. You must be one of those internet sociopaths who, out of their misery in life, is drawn into sites like “this gear sucks.” Fortunately for the rest of the world, despite anarchists like you (you miserable twerp) attempting to rip apart decades of human progress, there are concoctions like Wikipedia that are built and re-built by the constructivist masses….such that regardless of your presence, others will continue to build. Plenty of educators have already responded to every one of your pea-brained concepts, and rightly so. Your undeveloped cranial concept that teachers only work during 9 months of the year
    has painted a lucid picture of how little you know about the life you have no business commenting upon. Shame on you. I guarantee that in my professional work alone, that I have known far more demanding weeks, months, and years of work than you. Stay under the rock from whence you came and stop bothering the people who are striving to make the world a better place. I don’t know one single educator (worth his/her salt) who doesn’t spend well over 100% of their in-class time preparing for class, and these unrecognized hours amount to teachers getting up as early as farmers and bakers, staying up as late as teenagers, and working ever single day of the week. Now factor >100 hours per week into the unacceptably low pay that the vast majority of teachers survive with, in the service of other people’s children. Then consider that because teachers earn so little, every single teacher I know works during the summer to even hope to generate a survivable income. Also know that most teachers are still working on every day off that you take for granted as vacation, holiday, and weekend time during the academic year, as they prepare lesson plans, grade, and correspond with demanding parents and students. To quote “A Few Good Men,” you couldn’t handle the truth. You need people like teachers, firemen, police officers, and military people on the line, yet you stand back and cast judgement without a clue. You disgust me.

  • Shakespeare66

    Good for you, Chad and all who joined you!

  • Sk8t

    Well said! I have been teaching special Ed for 14 years and am beyond burned out with all the demands, on top of the due process. The hours worked beyond the school day are immeasurable. Programs keep getting cut but admin keeps getting fat. No other profession in this country puts their workers under a microscope at all times. The evaluation system, test scores, the public humiliation of our profession and the daily demands outside of the work day are all driving good teachers away. DONE!!

  • Vicki Martz

    I would like to know where I can quickly get the red signs that the young girl is holding up. I live in Wenatchee and have been protesting in support of ALL school employees. I am a Director’s Secretary at Wenatchee School District and have had only a $20/month raise in 8 years…period. (Although mostly due to an extraordinarily resistant and mean-spirited internal system.) We ALL need to speak out against the Olympia sociopaths that we elected. That includes of course the sociopaths named Evans-Parlette, Hawkins and Condotta from my 12th District. DO your part to support education! SPEAK UP SPEAK OUT! DO NOT RE-ELECT these people!

  • RetireeLG

    Just retire this year, because the unfair evaluation process. I was tired of jumping in and out of hoops. First I was told if my students did well on their end of the year test I would be put on a 5 year plan for teacher evaluation. My students went up 10% points so I thought I would be a shoe in for less stress the following year. My principal said since I didn’t formally ask for the 5 year plan he did have to acknowledge my request. Also stated that parents wanted to remove their students from my class the following year. Mind you over have of them had me went their child was in 2nd grade and did want to have the same teacher in 5th grade. Why was I in 5th grade, Principal wanted to move me. “Because I can, so just smile and nod yes” when I was told about the move. He did not think I would raise student score 10% on their standardize end of the year test my first year as a 5th grade teacher. He actually seemed angry when people would mention it to him.
    That was the last year I got a good evaluation.
    After that, I could only get needs improvement or needs growth.
    I was no longer allowed to teach art or dance after school free of charge for the district or my students.
    I had to turn in mandatory daily lesson plans. (Not everyone had to).
    People, parent and teachers, told me that they thought I would transfer out of the school – 26 years at the same school. After my support teacher conspired with the vice principle to put a discipline not in my file, I know it was time to retire. I did feel welcome at a school I gave years of my life to. I filled a formal complaint with the Union and the District. The support teacher was removed from my case and the principal took over my evaluation. I miss my students but not teaching. Because for the last 3 years, all we have been doing is testing not teaching.

    • honest teacher

      Where do you teach, because a similar thing happened to me. I teach in AZ, but wonder if it’s happening nationwide?

  • Rights4teachers

    The PVEA (Arizona) branch of the NEA is a joke. They are corrupt and working behind teacher’s backs with the PV School District. If you are an Arizona teacher beware them!

  • Joe Velasquez

    Mon$y + political clout = GREED. It is one of the seven deadly sins!!!! Time will tell if ” THOSE ” people end up where we all know they should!! ALEJANDRO.

  • concerned

    It won’t be getting better. It has been getting worse for years now. We need to remove the federal government from our pockets and return control to the local communities. I’m so tired. I too am a teacher and I taught 30 years ago and today. What a change! The kids we’re turning out can’t do anything, believe they can do everything, don’t want to do anything unless it is fun, and where is the nearest starbucks? We have failed them. We have let the “researchers” (They all lie and sell out to the highest bidder… Pearson, anyone?) take control of our classrooms and the minds of the next generation.
    They work the teachers so hard now so they will not be able to see past all of the distractions. We’re dropping like flies. We’re on a treadmill that keeps speeding up and we can’t keep up anymore. Things are going in the toilet. Titles are more important than ability. Who you know is more important than what you know.
    AND NOBODY CARES A WHIT ABOUT THE KIDS….not really. They won’t look at the results of their efforts. They just keep “improving” them even though they never worked in the first place.
    Employers don’t want to hire our “educated” kids. THEY DON’T KNOW ANYTHING, BUT THEY CAN ASK GOOD QUESTIONS. Alas, the employer wants good answers and in a timely fashion. We don’t work in pods like dolphins. We are hired and fired as individuals. But today’s schools have killed and buried the individual.
    All hail collaboration….UTTER RUBBISH!!!!

  • Jennifer Huber

    Ravi, I can relate to you in many ways. I am nearing 60 and also entered teaching as a second career 8 years ago, after going back to school for 3 1/2 years to obtain my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. And now, I’ve walked away; not for a day, but possibly permanently. I love teaching; but I don’t love what that has come to mean. Teachers are no longer treated as professionals, although we are certainly expected to act like professionals. Pacing guides and consensus documents (a misnomer, if ever there was one) dictate not just what we should teach, but when and how, as well. We can’t teach young people to think for themselves, or to think critically when we are bound by impractical strictures that demand we teach a particular skill at a specific time and then move on, because we must adhere to the designated core program with “fidelity.” The students haven’t mastered that skill in that specific time frame? Don’t worry; the program will spiral back around in a few more weeks.
    Then we have the high-stakes testing, which holds teachers accountable for student learning. Excuse me? Teacher accountability is important, I agree, but where does student, and yes, even parent accountability begin?

    I was also struck by the ongoing debate in this post regarding unions, and their relative merits or lack thereof. We don’t have a union here, and I believe we’re suffering more as a result. I think the absence of strong leadership and unity within the profession here is contributing to the testing and accountability woes we are experiencing. Given the chance, I would back any move to unionize in this area, in hopes that it would lead to better conditions for teachers, and thus students.

  • lucy Smith

    The idea of the people in saying how this country is run has become a quaint inconvenience to those with money who believe they have the right to rule.Casquette Obey