The Exhaustion of the American Teacher

About John Kuhn

John Kuhn is a public school administrator in Texas and a vocal advocate for public education. His ''Alamo Letter'' and YouTube videos of his 2011 speech at a Save Texas Schools rally went viral, as did his 2012 essay ''The Exhaustion of the American Teacher.'' He has written two education-related books, 2013's Test-and-Punish (Park Place Publications) and 2014's Fear and Learning in America (Teachers College Press).

MARKETS OPENWith the 2012-2013 American school year still in its infancy, it’s worthwhile to note that the people doing the actual educating are down in the dumps. Many feel more beaten down this year than last. Some are walking into their classrooms unsure if this is still the job for them. Their hearts ache with a quiet anguish that’s peculiarly theirs. They’ve accumulated invisible scars from years of trying to educate the increasingly hobbled American child effectively enough that his international test scores will rival those of children flourishing in wealthy, socially-advanced Scandinavian nations and even wealthier Asian city-states where tiger moms value education like American parents value fast food and reality TV.

The American child has changed, and not necessarily for the better. Many shrill voices argue that teachers must change, too, by simply working harder. The favored lever for achieving this prescribed augmentation of the American schoolteacher’s work ethic is fear, driven by a progressively more precarious employment situation.

But teachers by and large aren't afraid; they're just tired. Click To TweetMeanwhile, no one is demanding American non-teachers change anything. Michelle Rhee wastes none of her vast supply of indignation on American public policies that leave a quarter of our children in poverty while, not coincidentally, the profits of Rhee’s corporate backers reach new heights. And no one but Paul Tough dares to hint at the obvious-but-politically-incorrect reality that a swelling army of kid-whipped or addiction-addled American parents have totally abdicated the job of parenting and have raised the white flag when it comes to… Click To Tweet Americans have explicitly handed off character education to schoolteachers. Such a practice says a great deal about our nation’s expectations of its parents.

 

The problem with the American student of 2012 isn’t as cartoonishly simple as evil unions protecting bad teachers. Nor is it as abstract and intractable as poverty. The problem is as complex, concrete, and confront-able as the squalor and neglect and abuse and addiction that envelope too many American children from the time they step outside the schoolhouse door at 3:30pm until the moment they return for their free breakfast the next morning. Meanwhile, the campaign to understate the impact of devastating home and neighborhood factors on the education of our children has done little more than curtail any urgency to address those factors. “No excuses” hampers the development of a holistic wraparound approach that would foster education by addressing real needs rather than ideological wants, because it holds that such needs are mere pretexts and not actual challenges worthy of confronting.

Like many educators, I’ve smelled on my students the secondhand drugs that fill too many of their homes with bitterness and want. There is sometimes a literal pungency to low academic performance that remedial classes won’t scrub from our kids. But it isn’t kosher to declare that any parent is failing. And it isn’t okay to note that some families are disasters. So out of courtesy, the liberal says the problem is poverty and the conservative says it’s unions.

Truth is, the problem with the American student is the American adult. Click To Tweet Deadbeat dads, pushover moms, vulgar celebrities, self-interested politicians, depraved ministers, tax-sheltering CEOs, steroid-injecting athletes, benefit-collecting retirees who vote down school taxes, and yes, incompetent teachers—all take their turns conspiring to neglect the needs of the young in favor of the wants of the old. The line of malefactors stretches out before our children; they take turns dealing them drugs, unhealthy foods, skewed values messages, consumerist pap, emotional and physical and sexual traumas, racist messages of aspersion for their cultures, and countless other strains of vicious disregard. Nevertheless, many pundits and politicians are happy to train their rhetorical fire uniquely on the teachers, and the damnable hive-feast on the souls of our young continues unabated. We’re told not to worry because good teachers will simply overcome this American psychic cannibalism and drag our hurting children across the finish line ahead of the Finnish lions.

Yeah, right.

Today, teachers across the land dutifully cast their seeds on ever-rockier ground. We were all told that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and we all became adamant about education; but no one told us not to waste kids’ hearts or weaken their spines or soften their guts, and we long ago abandoned our traditional cultural expectations for children’s formation. I’m not calling for picket fences and Leave it to Beaver; I’m calling for childhoods that aren’t dripping with pain and disenchantment and a huge chasm where there should have been character-building experiences from the age of zero to five. That aren’t marked by an empty space where there should have been a disciplinarian. And a gap where there should have been a rocking chair and a soft lap waiting when the child was hurting. I am referring to missing ingredients that I now recognize as the absolute essentials, things I took for granted when I was too young to realize I had won the parent lottery.

Adults—not merely teachers—have caused these little ones to stumble, but journalists and nonprofits and interloping government experts offer not a hand to the young but rather a cat-of-nine-tails across the backs of their teachers. Injustice for teachers is confused with justice for kids.

“Waiting for ‘Superman'” told teachers they were terrible, callous, and incompetent, that only magnanimous charter school operatives could save victimized children from their rapacious clutches.

NCLB told teachers they would only be considered successful if 100% of their students passed 100% of their tests.

Condoleezza Rice told teachers they were so ineffective that they were a national security threat.

Chris Christie told teachers that when two or more of them gather, they are thugs. Suddenly, the apple-themed knit sweater is a symbol of American menace rivaling the leather biker jacket.

“Won’t Back Down” actors Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhall, Ving Rhames, and Holly Hunter used their art to communicate that teachers only want union protections so they can lock poor children in closets, and that the only way to protect children from the plague of heartless unionized miscreants mal-educating them across this land is by letting their parents hand over local schools to wholly benevolent charter school operators led by the friendly Mother Teresas behind Parent Revolution.

Teachers learned from Bobby Jindal that public schools are so lousy that Louisiana is better off paying for its children to attend private schools that no state official has ever visited, that teach any curriculum whatsoever, and that are exempt from any accountability mechanisms at all because, you know, the free market will ensure their quality. (Though choice will allow children to vote with their feet by leaving public schools too, you can bet that arcane accountability measures will remain firmly in place for them.)

StudentsFirst told America to distrust its teachers.

Eric Hanushek told America that larger class sizes will improve education and, gee-whiz, they’re cheaper too, so why wouldn’t we grow them? Bill Gates seconded the motion.

Barack Obama told teachers he hated teaching to the test, and then he built Race to the Top of Test Mountain.

The educators I’ve known aren’t the goats they’re held up to be. There are certainly goats, and they’ve made a terrible mess of things. There are indeed Americans doing grievous harm to children; they just don’t happen to always be their teachers.

We feel uncomfortable being honest about who they are and what they do (and neglect to do) to devastate these babies. So we usually don’t speak out about it. We leave out the damning details because they are unkind.

When it comes to America’s shamefully overflowing crop of ravaged children, trembling pundits, bumbling policy-crafters, and bombastic governors lead us in a chorus in which we either blame their teachers, or we blame something amorphous like poverty, or we blame no one. It is impolite to point at the blood dripping from the hands of well-meaning devastators when they happen to go by names like Mom and Dad.

And so we fix nothing.

The American schoolteacher is exhausted. I am exhausted.

Tom Petty once sang, “Let me up, I’ve had enough.”

That. Please.

Did you like this article? If so, read more articles by John Kuhn here.

 

 

Print Friendly

About the Author:

John Kuhn is a public school administrator in Texas and a vocal advocate for public education. His ''Alamo Letter'' and YouTube videos of his 2011 speech at a Save Texas Schools rally went viral, as did his 2012 essay ''The Exhaustion of the American Teacher.'' He has written two education-related books, 2013's Test-and-Punish (Park Place Publications) and 2014's Fear and Learning in America (Teachers College Press).

655 Comments

  1. Lauritha September 16, 2012 at 6:33 am - Reply

    This was dead on. I knew we were in trouble when America brought into their home a smart aleck kid who told his teachers and other adults to "eat my shorts." This was cute. He and his parents were okay with his antics and he liked the fact that he didn't pursue knowledge. It's cool to be ignorant. Why work hard?
    I realized this when I would go home spending hours crafting plans and activities, riding two hours each way, carrying the heavy Teacher's Editions to and fro, just to be met by students who didn't do the assinment, and weren't ashamed of that. Sigh.

    • bossygirl1980 September 17, 2012 at 5:22 am - Reply

      You are so right! Everyone thought Bart Simpson was cute! 🙁

      • eric:p September 30, 2012 at 9:30 pm - Reply

        Bart Simpson is a perfect case study of the points made in this post. His father is exactly the kind of coarse, violent individual who abdicates his responsibilities as a parent to everyone else, and then complains irately when he witnesses the fruits of his screw-ups.

        • Sue October 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm - Reply

          What about 16work of my 24 half day kindergartners NOT able to speak English! Do WE think that makes a difference? No one mentions this fact either!!

          • dawn October 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm

            I agree…I teach pre k with no spanish background and well this year 1 have 2 non speaking children not to mention non speaking parents

        • CTW March 18, 2013 at 9:19 am - Reply

          The Simpsons is actually pretty funny & intelligent. Those who have watched it more than one know that it is tongue-in-cheek… also Lisa Simpson, Bart’s sister, is a straight-A student in the show. I realize that the Simpsons television show doesn’t need ME to stick up for it, but there are shows on today that are far worse. We have been watching it for years and all 3 of my kids get straight A’s and have no behavior problems in school. The show has actually opened the door to some intelligent discussion in our living room with our kids. Just had to throw that out there…

          • Leslie April 1, 2013 at 10:55 am

            You are an exception then to those parents that let the kids watch what ever they want and never discuss the program. Many students never have those “intelligent” discussions and think it’s “normal” to act the way Bart Simpson does!

          • TJ April 17, 2013 at 10:07 pm

            Thank you! I watched The Simpsons all the time growing up, and I graduated salutatorian in a graduating HS class of over 600. I also just finished college Magna Cum Laude.

            Also, to people criticizing The Simpsons, this show has significant educational merit, especially in the earlier seasons. It’s not uncommon for teachers to show episodes in classes.

            And kids don’t learn that kind of bad behavior from Bart! Bart’s actually often a morally righteous and caring individual, if you’ve ever actually watched the show…..and the show doesn’t glorify his bad grades…..

    • Teresa Jasper October 2, 2012 at 2:33 am - Reply

      Agreed. Dead on. Teaching will suck the life out of you these days.

    • Nick October 5, 2012 at 10:43 am - Reply

      Really? Bart Simpson is the root of all the problems in schools? That show first aired when I was in second grade. I think I succeeded anyway because he’s a cartoon character and not a real person. Still, this makes me very glad I quit teaching.

      • April October 16, 2012 at 2:19 am - Reply

        Nick, what do you do now? I want to quit teaching but I’m not sure what direction I could go in.

        • Beverly November 3, 2012 at 5:12 am - Reply

          No, do not quit teaching, but simply look at it from a different perspective. That is how I was able to teach for more than 33 years. Yes, teaching can overwhelm. Having taught the non-readers, the non-English speaking, the neglected, the deficient, the emotionally disabled, etc. while being micro-managed by the bureaucrats who have no knowledge of what works in the classroom, I endured by keeping a proper perspective. Confident in my ability to teach, I stayed for the children. I kept the children in the forefront of my teaching activities. I did not let the ever-increasing demands diminish my concern for my students. Keep your calling to teach alive by using your creativity to circumvent all of the negativity that is crushing your desire to teach. You will find encouragement in your successes with your students and you will not regret your decision to remain a teacher.

          • Chris December 6, 2012 at 10:27 pm

            I too want to quit teaching. Beverly, It’s not the students: non-readers, ESOL, or economically low that make me want to quit. Its the adults; from administrators and deadbeat parents to the President of which have a major role in making my interactions with the kids, who I love so much, a tedious and stressful experience. I am new enough to teaching that I dont have a lot built into my retirement. My school has me on an annual contract, so every summer I lose my job and hopefully I’ll be brought back. I respect you because I was a student in the class not that long ago, and I remember what good teachers were capable of. I can tell by your post you were/are a good and passionate educator.

          • Joanne December 12, 2012 at 11:53 am

            Beverly is right on. I deal with students who are undernourished, unloved and who look forward to the few hours a day they spend in a classroom where they are cared about. I also deal with the kids who can’t wait for their next iPad and vacation in St. Barts. They also need to learn compassion for the others in their class. While I am indeed exhausted by my work, I also hope that somewhere, somehow, I brighten some child’s day. That’s when we can teach. But it would be nice to do this with some modicum of respect from parents along the way…it won’t keep me from coming in every day though. The kids need us and we may also benefit by knowing how important we are to them!

          • Remo January 19, 2013 at 3:39 pm

            You don’t even know how much I needed to hear this!! I’m in my 20th year of teaching and I thought it would get easier. It is just the opposite. I just want to teach!! I love the kids but I am so frustrated by the administrational mandates that eat up my time and undermine what the teachers have built. We ride on a pendulum of what the trends are and try to fit our teaching in there somewhere. After 20 years, I know I’m an excellent teacher, but I never feel like it b/c I have trouble figuring out how to plan my content lessons that include 21st Century Skills, Marzano, Differentiated Learning, Data, Learning Styles, Response to Intervention, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Erikson’s Stages of Development, State Standards, National Standards, standardized testing, AP testing, pre and post assessments, Student Learning Outcomes, SAT, ACT, Fisher and Frey Scaffolded Instruction, dual enrollment, distance learning, online, special education, and on and on and on. On top of that we cannot do a student’s homework for them or study for them, so if they refuse to do these, we are accountable for that as well. Heaven forbid a child who won’t do work should fail and it be his or her fault.

          • Susan Carone February 22, 2013 at 11:59 am

            So true. It is impossible to fit all that into lesson plans unless they are 13 pages long which is pretty much what our district requires. I'm in my 16th year and tell my husband everyday that I might make it to 20, but that's it. I have my National Boards, my AIG certification, and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction but you would think they dragged me off the street corner to teach the way they mandate and micromanage everything!

          • Cheryl February 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm

            Beverly, I noticed that you said “I was able to teach for more than 33 years.” …was being the operative word. I have taught for 25 years and I love to teach, but the pressure of the new demands for the common core, the lack of differentiation with regard to testing expectations for students with special needs, and the general bashing that teachers get from politicians is wearing heavily on me. I have never felt this more than I do this school year and it is crushing the breath out of many of the caring, compassionate, professional teachers with whom I work as well. Like you, I felt the pressures of teaching all sorts of children, and was always able to keep my head up because I knew I was making a difference – until this year. There is no comparison between what is going on now in education and what I have experienced in the previous 25 years.

          • 11 years and fed up February 6, 2013 at 4:44 pm

            Baloney – to put it politely. I do not buy your I-am-a-self-sacrificing-perfect-teacher line. Yes, there are rewrads, None of us do this for the money -the kids are ALWAYS the ONLY thing that matters. But I am not a substitute parent – I am a professional teacher. Parents today are lazy, irresponsible, tuned-out, addicted to social media (if not alcohol or drugs, as in the article), and expect us to parent their children for them. When I call home about behavior, I get “Why did you let hime act like that?” or “What are you doing to teach her better behavior?” EXCUSE me ??!! That is the parents’ job, and always will be. There is no respect for teachers by parents, by administrators, by the media, by the general public. No one has any idea how much we do, how much it matters, and what would happen if we didn’t. There is a culture in America today, expertly expressed in this article – that we (teachers) are all somehow the bottom line for students. No. The family – the parents – are the bottom line. Until there is a return to children being taught – at home – values, respect, proper behavior, appreciation for education, this is only going to get worse. You use the word “was,” so I wonder how long ago you retired? Did you teach in a low socio-economic area, like many of us? Poverty is growing. Did you teach in a Title One school, with kids born addicted to drugs, raped at the age of 6 by mom’s latest boyfriend, cruising aroung WalMart at 11 pm on school nights in the cart with Mom cursing a blue streak on her cell phone and ignoring the kids’ exhausted cries? No teacher, no matter how dedicated, professional, highly-qualified, or saintly, can ci=ope endlessly with all of that. It cannot be overcome by one teacher, or even 12 years’ succession of dedicated teachers. I repeat, things are only going to get worse. Wait and watch.

      • transformationlately October 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm - Reply

        I can't help but feel that watching the Simpsons did do some damage to you. After all, you are taking an analogy in this article literally. Televisions became babysitters long ago and the shows on those televisions have progressively gotten worse. I had Sesame Street and Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood. Have you seen the shows made for American kids today?

        • Jason March 1, 2013 at 12:08 am - Reply

          Should be required reading for all teachers and HS freshmen. : “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television” by Jerry Mander.

        • Anna March 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm - Reply

          I don’t think it’s just the Simpsons, though. Media and movies have not portrayed teachers in a friendly or helpful light in a long time. Even Mr. Belden the bumbling principal of Saved by the Bell was well-meaning and caring at the core. Now movies reveal teachers who are “naughty,” boring, mean, abusive, accusatory, incompetent or just plain clueless. Only occasionally do you have a movie like Dangerous Minds or something, but those movies only get the crying housewives to watch them. I just wish that we were portrayed as real people who care and work our a$$es off. Because that is the truth of it.

    • Isaac October 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      The Simpsons is satire. It always has been. We can see all these things in Bart because this is how things were before he came along. He's a reflection that's supposed to help up deal with these things.

      • dbray October 8, 2012 at 8:08 am - Reply

        Isaac… you know that… I know that… but children don’t know that. The cartoon was for adults… it started as an ‘alternate culture’ strip… in ‘underground’ papers. How the hell did it end up as a kids show? This has always completely baffled me, frankly, and in this context, I echo the previous comments… how the hell did Bart Simpson end up as a role model for increasingly cynical disenfranchised discombobulated youth? I wonder… if I sell T-shirts with ”Bart Simpson is not a role model’ on them, would I be sued? I burned out as a child counselor… burned out badly.. I cared too much, tried too hard… or maybe I was just stupid… it’s like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike… only, if you scream for help… people look at you like YOUR crazy… nah… enough.. did my time…. best wishes and good luck to ANYONE trying to do ANY good, frankly… this article is like someone screaming ‘the canary is dead the canary is dead!!’ … but all the miners are deaf

        • ChrisB October 16, 2012 at 2:07 am - Reply

          The problem isn’t Bart Simpson, it’s that children are being babysat with television rather than being educated by their parents. If kids are taking Bart Simpson as a role model it’s only because he’s spending six hours a day filling the vacuum of parental neglect.

      • Kim Finnegan October 11, 2012 at 1:21 am - Reply

        Yes, “The Simpson’s” is a satire, but young kids don’t get satire. Nor do many older ones. Many of the seniors I teach don’t get the humor of any of the satirical pieces we’ve studied – inlcuding SNL, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart – or even Big Bang Theory. They don’t see shows like that as satire, any more than they see “South Park” as satire. They see only the surface and because it’s funny, the emulate it, not learn from it. So, in a very real sense, Bart Simpson and his ilk can indeed be seen as part of the problem with many American families today.

      • Doreen October 16, 2012 at 3:24 pm - Reply

        Isaac I wanted to reply to your comment, but everyone who has replied before me has said exactly what I wanted to say. The sad truth, that many dont want to acknowledge, is that Parenting is a lost art. It is the most difficult job there is, bar none. And many have abdicated it to day care centers, and teachers. We come home from work and we have meals to prepare, or not…activities to run children to, and often a one parent household to do it all. I feel so fortunate that my children turned out as well as they did, because I honestly feel sometimes that I was barely keeping my head above the water while trying to raise them.
        Whether we like it or not, there’s alot to be said for the old fashioned values and old fashioned idea that Mom needs to be home tending to the children. Not watching soap operas, not out with the girls, but actually at home doing the job of Parenting. It IS a job, and its NOT for the faint of heart.

    • Courchesne October 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      You read an article how multifaceted and nuanced this problem is and then decide to pin it all on a cartoon show? Are you missing the irony in this or what?

      • Abby October 15, 2012 at 10:33 pm - Reply

        I don’t think that anyone is “pinning” the problem on a cartoon show, I think they are saying it is a reflection of what our culture has become. . . I don’t think any problems are started by some TV show or something, but they may reflect a problem and then perpetuate a problem (in part).

        • Javin January 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm - Reply

          Agreed. I don’t think they’re trying to say “Simpsons did it!” but rather that The Simpsons were a reflection of where the mindset of Americans as a whole had moved. Then after The Simpsons came South Park, taking it to a whole new low, and next thing you know, we have idiots like “Snookie” made celebrities for no reason other than the fact that she’s a raging filthy moron. The television is a reflection of society, and The Simpsons was the start of how ugly that reflection had gotten. Today, it’s more unusual to find a kid who HASN’T seen one of these garbage shows than to find one that has. This brings us full circle, and shows how horrible the parents of these children have become.

    • D.Zimm October 15, 2012 at 3:34 am - Reply

      This is so accurate in many ways. I am a retired teacher after 43 years of junior high education. I loved my kids and spent hours trying to reach all of them. when students get an ok from parents to disrespect teachers, because the parents say the same things, and threaten to sue the teacher for harassment when hours are behind the effort to motivate, it tears down not only authority in general, but the ability to learn, and become a better person in the long run. "Heroes like Sponge Bob and Bart Simpson are replacing military heroes, strong loving parents and the desire to do your best and care.

    • Balti K October 19, 2012 at 11:54 pm - Reply

      I have to say my favorite episode from the series you mention has to be the "Blue Crayon" episode, when the father realizes he's had a crayon stuck up his nose for thirty years, removes it, becomes smart, and is so disenchanted with the state of America, he replaces the crayon rather than face the fight to change the world. A stunningly apt description of apathy at work in society today.

    • Karen October 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      It's funny that you attribute the change to the time Bart Simpson came into American homes. I was a pre-teen at that time, and I remember my mom banning that show in our house. I couldn't understand why, and for a long time I thought my mom was prudish and overly strict. Now that I am a parent and teacher myself I completely agree with my mom's decision and can see that this was about the time attitudes started changing in American households. I am SO glad my mom said I was not allowed to watch a show that promoted such disrespect (her words). I grew up into a different type of adult who values myself and my relationships.

      • Kris November 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm - Reply

        I had the opposite experience with the Simpsons. They were welcomed members of my family while I was growing up. What I remember most is Lisa and how important she was to the family. She was strong, brilliant, and caring despite having to be her own role model in so many ways. Besides people it’s a cartoon, relax.

    • Nikki January 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      Carrying the heavy books? Are u kidding me? My 10 year old brings home a backpack you could lift weights with. Perhaps the teachers wouldn’t be so exhausted if they stopped changing the way things are done. It used to be English, now it’s writing, reading and word usage. You want to talk about tired? How about getting up in the middle of the night no matter what. Parents get up early in the am too. We have to make sure everyone has all they need for the day. Then stand outside and wait for the bus, the minute they leave you have start preparing for when they get home. When they arrive they have 4 lousy hours to get homework, dinner, showers before bedtime. In our family we make sure it’s done and we help them in anyway we can, then they want us to access websites we can’t get to. Assuming our finicky old computer works. Guess what I also hunt down help when we need it, not bothering the teacher just looking on the web. I also bring things to school when needed, I volunteered at school. Teachers may be tired but so are the parents. At least they get full health & dental insurance we pay for all dental, thousands of dollars a year in medical costs and summers off and other various holidays. I NEVER get a day off.

      • BLM January 27, 2013 at 8:09 pm - Reply

        First of all it is not the teachers who keep changing the way things are done. In fact it is often politicians and others who have never taught a day in their life who change how and what we teach. We speak up but do not have as much power as many like to believe we have. Secondly, most of us are parents as well. Not only do we spend countless hours preparing, grading, evaluating, buying supplies from our own personal budgets, we try to give our own families the valuable time they deserve including homework help. Next, I know of no teacher who has benefits for free. Those days are long gone. In fact I probably pay more for my benefits than your family. As for holidays and weekends, how often do you dedicate your “vacation” to work? Most teachers do. We train, prepare, organize and anything else we can to teach your children better. Before making assumptions about us try talking us and finding out the truth first. You sound like a very involved parent. That is wonderful but a very rare quality in present days. But before spouting untruths, do some real research about a profession you obviously know nothing of.

      • JJ326 January 29, 2013 at 8:11 am - Reply

        Yeah, so what that’s called being a parent and it sounds like a decent one. Now, think about the teachers who are parents as well- we do the same except in my lousy 4 hours of homework time we also have to spend hours correcting and preparing for the next day. Does your job require nightly and weekend take home work on top of a full day at work and a full night with your family??? Think about that next time you say summers off are so great- we earn it and often spend much of the time trying to prepare for the next year or improving our own teaching skills.

        • Nikki January 29, 2013 at 11:01 am - Reply

          I work all day and night too. No vacations we can’t afford it and no babysitters or nannies. Although I have to admit I did make a mistake, govt routinely sticks their noses in where it doesn’t belong. Do they even get the teachers (who know best) opinion? They are the ones in the classroom. Whatever I think this disagreement has been going on for years with no solution. However I still believe life as a SAHM is not as easy as many people seem to think.

          • Patty February 10, 2013 at 11:27 pm

            I think it is ridiculous when parents try to tell teachers how hard their day is….how hard it is to be a parent…without realizing- MOST TEACHERS ARE PARENTS TOO! So, we get that it’s hard to be a parent. We have the same struggles that parents face with our own kids. We have to get our own kids off to school. We have to help our own kids with homework, baths, dinner, etc…. and then we get to sandwich in struggles with everyone else’s kids as well!

        • danielle February 8, 2013 at 10:17 pm - Reply

          Yes, my job requires work on nights and weekends (including full days, I’m a web/software developer.) I have a 10 year old daughter, and I don’t get vacation either. Because I don’t get home until 6, and we cook dinner (6-630) eat (630-730), and then really only 1 and a half hours to do homework, which I usually have to help her with. Plus she has two activities I do extra things for. She doesn’t even have an English book, and the teacher only plans things for during school hours, when I cannot attend. I get notices about activities and homework the day before they are due or will happen. And, the notices are mixed in with papers returned home that are in big batches, with the notices in the middle. So, on top of all the other stuff I have to do, I have to dig through a stack of papers every night to find out what is going on. Her last two teachers were “let go” after she was in their class, and we are still playing catch up with her education. We ask how we can help, and we don’t get a response other than help with homework. We ask what the homework is (even just what subject to study or work on), and we get no response. How do we know what they are learning, when no one tells us when we ask? And, the teachers at her school have other students grade the assignments (incorrectly quite often), on top of all of this. So, I’m wondering if this is just this school…

          I guess my biggest problem is that there is not enough “real” communication going on, and I think we have a three-pronged issue here. It’s not just the parents or the teachers, but society/government as well. Everyone just keeps yelling at each other, saying it’s the other one’s fault, and no one is trying to fix it. From a frustrated and tired parent to exhausted teachers, what can I do??

          We are actually in a good school district, and we have tons of problems (really, no English book?? Not even a hand-me-down?) I can’t even imagine what a poorer or lower quality school district has to deal with. I wonder where is all the tax money is going?

          I don’t get nearly all the niceties I hear all my teacher friends get (guaranteed vacation, healthcare, automatic raises based on years of service, not merit, snow days, ipads – and I make mobile websites, perks, pensions, etc.), so I get frustrated when I hear them all complaining. I have to fight and work constantly for every penny earned, not to get stepped on at work, not to get laid off for the newest college-aged yuppy with a song and dance. How much time a week do you spend researching on how to do a better job at your craft, after hours?

          But, really, bottom-line, it’s not JUST parents, it’s not JUST teachers, it’s not JUST government, it’s all three, and it’s a communication issue…

          (Oh, and for the record, we cook dinner every night, and we don’t watch tv more than an half an hour a day, and I actually communicate with my child and her teacher.)

          • Ashley February 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm

            Teachers don’t use “Books.” We have a curriculum we must follow, with basically no help besides our teacher colleagues. So the book that you are looking for, doesn’t exist. As teachers, we are constantly looking for and researching the best way to teach kids the curriculum we are required to teach. We are innovation, creative, and try to make it student centered (at least the good ones). I get up at 5 am, arrive at school an hour early, stay late, come home eat dinner and get right back to work. You better believe I put in the time for every penny I earn plus some. And teachers where I work haven’t gotten a raise in 8 years. Vacations/Retirement? Spend a day in our shoes. I’m not saying other people don’t work hard and don’t get paid enough for what they do- but teaching is the most underappreciated profession by a mile. Teacher moral is at an all time low. It’s sad to see how poorly teachers are treated. Yes I do agree that it’s not just one “Groups” fault and I’m sorry you’ve had a bad experience, but what was said in this article is so true. I just wish people would realize the work teachers put in and how poorly we are treated.

          • Clove February 21, 2013 at 1:40 am

            It is such a misnomer to think that teachers have all this time off. Last summer I worked 8 hour days every day of the summer developing curriculum and preparing for the coming year. During the school year, I devote weekends and nights to grading papers and providing extra credit opportunities – spending Saturdays and Sundays with my students. And I could go on. I spent the same amount of time and money on school with the same number of degrees as the doctor next door but make half as much money – and trust me, the benefits are nowhere near the same. Vacation? I’m with you – my vacations over the last 18 years have been mainly with students. Escorting students.

            We don’t get to make choices any longer on curriculum and books. That’s the district – and usually not with good results. I see that as a parent as well and what my child brings home – very formula driven, little freedom given to the true expert…the classroom teacher. My son’s room is absent the hatching egg, the lizards and fish, the corner piano, the colorful diaramas or murals. But there are all sorts of charts and data driven reports.

            That’s what I don’t hear a lot of people understanding is that even with these 16 hour days, I ALSO have a 10 year old who has a backpack of homework – don’t even get me started on Everyday Math – and that same pile of papers to shuffle through. Trying to understand exactly what the teacher’s expectations are. Being able to attend conferences. Wanting to see his programs. We are parents too.

            Education is just in a low place right now – and thing is, parents/teachers/community are feeling left out of the conversation – kicked out by the pundits and wonks and Rhees and testing/textbook corporations. We need to take our classrooms back. We pay for them, we send our kids to them, we staff them. We need to quit accepting the “we know best” pat on the head. It’s getting us nowhere.

          • AB February 22, 2013 at 10:47 pm

            You should try having your child be responsible for the work she brings home. Ask her what is due and have real consequences for her when she doesn’t know. Why does the teacher have to tell you the assignment. ? Why is it a teacher’s Fault when your child doesn’t listen or write down what to do? Why aren’t you making sure your child stays organized so you don’t have to sort through stacks of paper? Come on now, do you hear yourself?

          • TJ April 17, 2013 at 10:53 pm

            Seriously? The “niceties” the teachers get?
            “Healthcare”…if you’re lucky. I have to pay quite substantially into mine.
            “Paid vacations”? Try more time to catch up. Snow days are usually spent in meetings, lesson planning, grading, etc.
            “Automatic raises based on years of service. Not merit.” …you must know some super up-scale teachers, because no teacher I know has seen a raise in years.

            “I have to fight and work constantly for every penny earned.” And teachers don’t? We have to fight and work constantly to keep our jobs, because people like you assume we don’t deserve the little that we have. The average teacher in the US with 15 years of experience makes just ~60% of the salary that your typical college graduate makes. Yet I guarantee you we put in substantially MORE hours than your typical college graduate.
            “How much time a week do you spend researching on how to do a better job at your craft, after hours?” – Considering the fact that we are CONSTANTLY required to complete new professional development plans, and the fact that state and national standards are CONSTANTLY changing, and the fact that the very demographic of students we are teaching is CONSTANTLY changing, I think it’s fair to say we spend a pretty substantial amount of time researching and learning about our craft. That’s not mentioning the required conferences, seminars, and clinics we need to frequently attend (travel and attendance costs often at our own expense).

            And the books used in the classroom are not decided by teachers, but by your Board of Education and your state politicians. If you are upset that you don’t have an English book, you can write your governor an angry letter, because your teachers sure as hell can’t do anything about it.
            And if you are upset that your daughter gets too much homework, or that the teachers are sending home too much information, again, that’s not up to the teachers. They are teaching to a curriculum designed by your Board of Education and your state politicians. If the teachers don’t meet the very specific requirements laid out for them, they will be fired.

      • Marcy February 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm - Reply

        How about the teachers who are parents? I have four kids and 36 adopted ones in my class. I go to school at night took keep up with educational requirements of pay advances and keeping my certificate. I get up at 5. I go to bed at 1. All this to keep advancing for my students and myself. I cook a healthy meal every night, check my kids’ homework, do my own homework, and grade my papers. Yes we get benefits, but summers off are unpaid, so I get a second job in the summer or I am broke. I do projects and homework times four. I feel no pity for parents. Been there. Done that. I have successfully founded PTAs, volunteered, and did my parental part. We just ask for the same. When a parent tells me they did not so the project because it was too much trouble, or they did not have the time, it reminds me of exactly what is stated above. We are suppose to be a team. We all have lives and hearache. Let’s work through it.

      • Patty February 10, 2013 at 11:25 pm - Reply

        I think it is ridiculous when parents try to tell teachers how hard their day is….how hard it is to be a parent…without realizing- MOST TEACHERS ARE PARENTS TOO! So, we get that it’s hard to be a parent. We have the same struggles that parents face with our own kids. We have to get our own kids off to school. We have to help our own kids with homework, baths, dinner, etc…. and then we get to sandwich in struggles with everyone else’s kids as well!

      • Jackie February 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm - Reply

        Did you assume that your choice to become a parent came with a vacation package? That must have been a shock! And so you feel your troubles must be the fault of your children’s teachers? Life is hard, everyone struggles with their job, but hear this….teachers want to teach, guide , love, and care for their students. They are crying out for help to change our faulty education system in an effort to help YOUR children succeed!!! So, instead if playing ‘who has it worse?’ Maybe hear what is being said by the people in this country who chose a career in creating possibilities for the youth and our future.

      • Carmen February 20, 2013 at 12:00 pm - Reply

        Nikki, you have not thought about the teachers being parents also. All that homework is not the teachers’ fault. They are mandated by politicians passing the mandates to educational administrators to do something. So teachers are told to give homework, include computer technology, make sure that assignments are differentiated, and more. These same teachers must do exactly as you are doing as a parent with their own families. Yes, they get time off in the summer where there is no year round school. However, they have spent several hours each evening after they have taken care of their
        families grading papers, making lesson plans, documenting the days activities and contacting parents. In the summer, many are in workshops or going to school because teachers have to keep updating their education so that they can maintain their certificates to teach–this extra education usually having to be paid for by the teacher him/herself. They know you are tired, because they are also.

      • AltTeach February 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm - Reply

        You sound as though you are blaming the teachers for the constructs of the modern daily life. WOW! Such power you bestow upon us. We are mandated to give homework and as I have changed districts, the more disadvantaged the students the stronger the push from admin for homework. Paradoxical nonsense. So, we spend our “days off” grading all this work that we cannot grade during the school days because of TEACHING, lesson planning and admin. paperwork. Further, after 10 years of teaching, I do not have health insurance. Of the $2,000 I take home a month to raise my children, I cannot afford to sacrifice $600 on insurance. Pay raises are frozen, and many districts are going to crazy pay for performance salary schedules whereby we are paid by student test scores and students are apathetic and burned out on testing; therefore, they are demotivated and salaries are negatively impacted, not just stagnated. Now, because of open enrollment, teachers are being called on to market their districts. I LOVE KIDS! I LOVE TEACHING!, but America, if you do not change some things in education, we are going to be very sorry. I am not even allowed to teach novels or free thinking any more. The politics of teaching will drive me out soon and I will be replaced by someone who just graduated college, has no teaching credentials and did not complete student teaching. It makes me sad.

      • Jenny M February 21, 2013 at 7:14 am - Reply

        Have you ever though that teachers are parents too! We come home to our children and take care of them too.

      • Dee February 23, 2013 at 11:14 am - Reply

        I pay a portion of my health insurance, thank you and I don't have dental because I have to pay for that too. Check your facts. Also, maybe your child wouldn't have so much homework if those making educational decisions about core curriculum wouldn't demand they learn so much information. I also don't have an extended summer vacation if you must know. I teach summer school because I can't support myself on my pay, which for someone with a four year degree and soon a Masters degree, when compared to others with our level of education, actually sucks. Even teachers who don't teach summer school are lesson planning for the coming year, attending professional development, out buying school supplies we aren't afforded and have to buy ourselves or working jobs in retail or various other outlets. I don't know very many teachers who just sit on their butts all summer and eat Cheetos. I'm sorry you don't have any days off. If that sounds so appealing to you, why haven't you become a teacher?

      • Tracy Brady March 1, 2013 at 7:05 am - Reply

        We teachers are parents too. Some of us single parents living a similar life to yours. My children go to school where I teach, so I essentially spent my last vacation with my students, because I was chaperoning activities with my daughter and her friends — all of whom are my students — at various places where teenagers like to be and ended up in numerous conversations with…others of my students, parents, etc. Life is life, and change is part of it — much of the change out of the control of teachers.

        Signed,
        A proud single mom of two teenagers who teaches 4 different courses in 2 different content areas in 3 different classrooms in 2 different buildings, and YES, I am tired

      • Loretta March 2, 2013 at 9:26 am - Reply

        I think you are assuming that teaching and parenting are mutually exclusive? Some of us are parents and teachers…think about that day! We’re doing all that you have described above for our own children and spending our days pushing water uphill trying to educate our students despite ridiculous state and federal mandates, shrinking budgets and faculty, safety concerns for students and faculty, differentiated instruction, administrative hassles, and unreasonable parental demands. Most of the teachers I know, are very caring and come to work each and every day with well thought out lesson plans and a desire to engage students in our classrooms. It is getting increasingly more difficult to compete with smart phones and students’ obsessions with social media. Yet, although cell phones are not to be taken out in the classrooms, parents complain when teachers take them away from students and demand that they be given back! Nothing I have to say in the front of the room comes close to the latest tweet or text in the mind of a high school student! I would love for the critics to spend a day in the life of the American teacher….

      • TJ April 17, 2013 at 10:33 pm - Reply

        This is perhaps one of the most ignorant comments I have read so far. /Teachers/ don’t decide those things anymore. That’s ENTIRELY in the hands of the government officials that also implement ridiculous standardized tests and unteachable curriculums.
        As for teachers getting “full medical and dental”, ummm, no we don’t. I get less benefits than your typical Walmart employee. I’m sorry you have a tough schedule. While you’re at home in the evening helping your kids with homework, making dinner, etc, even if it is just for a measly 4 hours, I’m at school writing lesson plans, writing IEP reports for dozens of students, supervising extra-curricular activities, calling parents, attending meetings about the most recent changes to the already tediously specific national and state standards, etc. On a typical school night, I don’t get home until 8 or 9 pm, sometimes 10 or 11. I have a family too, and I don’t get to spend time with them every day. I don’t always get to help my kids with homework. I don’t always have time to make my family dinner. I don’t always get to see my kids before they go to bed.
        Teachers sacrifice a LOT, and we are sure as hell dedicated, even amidst this drivel about how teachers are living the “high life”.

        • JoulesNewton April 18, 2013 at 4:40 pm - Reply

          You are so right! I’ve been doing this for 26 years. I have 2 more until I get to 80, but I have an 8th grade child. I would like to stay until she graduates, so I can “keep my thumb on the pulse”, but I’m not sure I will make it.

      • Maestra April 21, 2013 at 4:15 pm - Reply

        Seriously? You’re complaining because you are doing what parents should be doing? Do you think that teachers live at school to make kids and parents miserable. Right! Teachers must have no idea what it is like to parent. It’s parents like you who make teachers and mothers like me resentful. It’s hard to feel sympathy for you and the fact that you only have 7 hours to prepare for your kid’s afternoon arrival each day. Get a paying job if you feel so short-changed.

    • Josh Sapan February 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      What a well written post. I especially agree with the sentiments of parent accountability. I often wonder why WE NEVER HEAR ABOUT PARENTING FROM OUR GOVERNMENT OR THE MEDIA!!! I live in NYC and am consistently shocked by the silence of city officials, on family responsibility! ESPECIALLY in urban areas!

  2. gina venezia September 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    sooo true

    • Josh Sapan February 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      What a well written post. I especially agree with the sentiments of parent accountability. I wonder often why WE NEVER HEAR ABOUT PARENTING FROM OUR GOVERNMENT!!! I live in NYC and am consistently shocked by the silence of city officials, on family responsibility

  3. David Lee Finkle September 29, 2012 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    I especially liked the section here about what everyone has told teachers: it is absolutely correct. We teachers have become the new scapegoat for our society. We are responsible for everything that is wrong because we are unable to fix it. Sad. Just sad. But you haven't even tapped into the other causes of our exhaustion– chief among them that we are being micromanaged to death and thrown a "Common Core" curriculum that will completely disengage the kids we have that are engaged and keep the un-engaged even more so.

    • Dave Barney October 1, 2012 at 11:49 pm - Reply

      The Common Core doesn't engage my students. I do. If my students aren't engaged, I adjust my strategy. How exactly can you blame the Common Core?

      • Julie October 3, 2012 at 12:47 am - Reply

        I agree with Dave. The Common Core has nothing to do with engagement. And it’s far from micromanaging. It’s a set of tasks – useful tasks – that students will need for the rest of their lives. If you make those tasks boring based on the reading, analysis, and thinking you’re guiding your students to do and asking your students to try, that’s your fault.

        • K99 October 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm - Reply

          Common Core opened the door to use the best literature and resources available to engage students. It is a breath of fresh air!

          • Teacher Girl October 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm

            I totally agree with you. I have been teaching for 9 years. This year my school began using the Common Core Standards. It has rejuvenated me! I have never loved teaching as much as I do know. I feel like I can really develop Units of Study that will actively engage my students provide them with multiple learning opportunities. I LOVE The Common Core Standards!

      • Beth Ellor October 4, 2012 at 8:17 pm - Reply

        I think Dave Finkle may be talking about the curriculum guides that are already proliferating to reassure Districts that they will meet the Common Core Standards as long as they follow the enclosed lesson plans to a T. Much easier than trusting the professionals with curriculum designed for their own children based on their own formative assessments. After all, it’s guaranteed by a big name publisher – what could go wrong?

      • Sheri October 7, 2012 at 3:10 am - Reply

        You must have a different copy of common core standards than I have, or you’re in tight with the principal. I have been in trouble for dancing the ABC’s in kindergarten, trying to console a student who threw a desk over because she had stripes from belt beating, and not putting a standard on my bulletin board. I got a three day suspension because I did not have all of my grades recorded yet in my grade book.Once I grabbed the lesson plans off my desk because I couldn’t put my hands on my copy, and the principal did not see them when she came in. I was written up for that because it was an “expectation.” I cringe anytime an administrator comes in because I may not be doing exactly what are in my plans. Too bad if the kids are interested ,and would like to find out more! My schedule is planned and given to me. I like to teach reading in the morning, but my schedule says math, so math it is. I have been teaching for YEARS, and I do know what works, and how to reach the kids, but those days are over! My days now are test what I have not even taught yet, come up with a high level standard, break it down, make a plan of how to reach every student, BUT before you finish that give them another test of what you have not gotten to teach, and on…

        My thought is teach, re-teach, then test. Then you would see if they have mastered that skill. This seems a lot smarter then testing what they don’t know! And, we could de-stress both teachers and students. Instead of 29 students in my class, why not get rid of “coaches” put them in the classroom, and they can actually show us. If classes had half the students, and teachers could teach our test scores would soar. Put the pencil pushers from downtown in classrooms and put the superintendent on the same MERRITT PAY system we are on. His salary should depend on the success of his schools. I think we would see a BIG change in our schools, especially IPS.

        Finally, with our new common core, RISE system the principal can get rid of you for about any reason. (Better make sure you suck up, or you’ll be out.) Take nothing for granted…KEEP GOOD EVIDENCE!

        • Retiring October 10, 2012 at 11:12 am - Reply

          Hear! Hear! Micromanage is the name of the game at my school! This being done by a principal working on a doctorate in another town, thus causing him/her to be absent more than any teacher would ever be allowed and still keep their job! Asst. principal too afraid to make even the smallest of decisions, but rather deferring to the very absent principal. This has been going on for two years!
          Meanwhile, the Supt. keeps creating more positions and adding more “chiefs” to his staff. We built a new school building so we could move an existing school, and turn the old school building into more administrative offices.
          I’m tired. I’m retiring this year. It is my 30th year in education.

        • Vschwalen October 22, 2012 at 3:12 am - Reply

          Wow. So sorry to hear that your district has taken the common core and created a monster out of it. Dancing the ABC’s should be the correct interpretation , lesson plans available upon request should suffice and posting the objective is very old school but not a huge hoop to jump through. Sounds like you have a robot in charge.

        • Exhausted Teacher February 3, 2013 at 8:40 am - Reply

          This sounds like my life right now. Only I have 36 students and a principal who prides himself on looking for the “deltas” and pointing them out publicly. Constant budget cuts means I haven’t had any kind of raise in over 6 years. Supplies are at a very low minimum. I have to purchase my own whiteboard markers, paper, pencils, etc. My class pencil sharpener broke in November, and a new one is “on order.” I was told it might be in by March. I pay through the nose for insurance just like the rest of America, but with a $3,000 deductable I cant afford to use it. I get sick when parents send their kids to school sick, and then I’m told there are no subs available when I need to take off. We might get summers and weekends off, but remember we don’t get paid for summers and weekends either. I could go on and on, but why bother?

      • Carol Blackburn February 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm - Reply

        Well in many NYS schools teachers are being forced to use engage.ny modules to teach. They are scripted lessons, without the use of any technology, which is already in the classroom by the way, and the teacher has no professional options but to teach as directed.

    • TooTiredToTeach October 8, 2012 at 12:01 am - Reply

      You are so right, David! With the CCSS, Compass, GLEs (and just ignore everything but the Power GLEs because they are the ones on the test!), inclusion, interuptions (all 4-H members report to the cafeteria, all Student Council Reps report to Mrs. Jones's room ), not to mention the fights on the playground, the teasing and bullying, and the paperwork. I've had it! I am done next year at mid-term after 25 years. I am sick of parents who think their kids do no wrong. I am sick of kids passing notes, drawing, and sleeping in class. When you ask who doesn't understand, those are the ones who raise their hands. So, with a smile, you bring them up into a small group and reteach the lesson you just taught. I hope someone is telling the high school students and college students to look elsewhere for a career. This one sucks!

      • Ellyn October 15, 2012 at 4:21 am - Reply

        Oh, Gosh, I forgot about metntioning interruptions. Last year I kept track and in the 175 days of school that I was there, I counted a total of almost 900 interruptions which I considered non-essential. I did not count students being checked out by parents, fire drills, or students called to the counseling center. That amounts to more than 4 a day over things like, "Please send Joey to the front desk to pick up a delivery." I have asked that these types of things be kept to the last 5 minutes of each class period to minimize the time my lessons are interrupted but I have been ignored and told "just deal with it". 20 years ago, I never got these types of interruptions, yet my accountability for the material they interrupt has only increased.

    • Ellyn October 15, 2012 at 4:10 am - Reply

      Amen to that……and talk about micromanaging, I once got in "trouble" for teaching Algebra I students how to SOLVE a systems of equations….something that is in any Alg. I curriculum or book I've ever seen…WHY? because it's not on the 9th grade test. So even if a couple of my classes were smart enough to move on and figure out how to do it, God forbid if I spend 20 min. teaching them something they actually ASKED me how to do! "I'm sorry kids, you're not allowed to learn that yet. It's not on the test. As Joe Biden would say…..what a bunch of malarkey!

    • sherry daughtrey February 19, 2013 at 8:33 am - Reply

      You hit that right on the head!!

    • Czech March 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      Hey, insightful comment. I accidentally clicked the negative vote button and it will not let me change the reply. I enjoyed your comment and meant to positively vote on it.

  4. Erin September 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    We are 4 weeks into the new school year and I’m dog tired already!! Thank God someone actually sees it and had the guts to write about it!!

    • InnerCityPrincipal October 3, 2012 at 2:50 am - Reply

      I taught for 6 six years in an urban setting and have been a principal for the past 4 yrs in at a low performing high school in the inner city. As an administrator, I spend my ENTIRE day, month, and year trying to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of my students and STAFF. But, no one seems to consider that the work of the Principal. We take the fall for EVERYTHING and no explanation or defense will suffice. If we know parents are at fault, do we continue to complain about it or do we do the work we signed up to do? No one arrives as early or stays as late as the Principal. No one else meets with every teacher, parent, community memeber, school board affiliate, staff member or District Rep upon request like we do. No one else attends every event, every meeting, and every after school activity like the Principal does. Lastly, Principals are in most cases the ONLY employee that does not have a Union to back or support them. So, with all the name calling, bashing and blaming, Principals take it in stride and do the work that must be done to make a difference for students. We are responsible for the entire school community…so you tell me who should be tired?

      • Lynn October 3, 2012 at 3:17 am - Reply

        InnerCityPrincipal, I don't envy your workload or responsibilities; sounds like your job is absolutely draining, and I admire you for doing it.

        That doesn't, however, detract from the exhaustion felt by classroom teachers. It's two totally different sets of experience, each exhausting in its own right.

        • Dan Patrick October 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm - Reply

          Most (not all) of the principals I know are half way up crap hill and trying to avoid what is rolling down from on high. They are more interested in survival than their teachers. I only know of one principal that is at the school longer than the teachers.

        • guest October 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm - Reply

          Exactly. A Principal's job is different from a teacher's and they are both exhausting. One major point of this article is that the students are not qualified to be in school. This is becasue the PARENTS have done a horrible job of parenting. A child's first teacher is his/her parent. Those first five years are more important than all the rest. Each child goes into school with whatever thier parents taught them. Unfortunately the parents best taught skills are complete crap now a days. Morals, character, etiquette, and discipline (the ability to control oneself) has not been learned in the five years the child has been at home. So sadly we teachers have to not only teach academics, but also basic social skills that no one has helped them with their whole lives. Its sad and we teachers are beaten down and tired.

          • Artmom October 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm

            I have truly enjoyed most aspects of my 33 years teaching elementary art. The worst times have been when I felt disrespected, by students, parents, colleagues, or administrators. The majority of students have learned common courtesy at home, thankfully. Every class, however, has a few children being raised by children or grandparents. I have frequently been heard lamenting in the staff lounge, ” What have these kids’ parents been doing with them for the five years before we meet them?” It is scary. It is sad. It makes school for the ones who want to learn a very stressful, unpleasant place to be.

      • Jeff Johnson October 3, 2012 at 3:54 am - Reply

        But you see Mr. Principal, that’s part of the problem. Administration just keeps taking it…just keeps shoveling the manure passed down to them. They in turn toss it on down the hallway only to fill the classrooms with it. Except for my current principal, I have never witnessed a school-level administrator stand up alongside teachers, support staff and parents and say, “Hold it a minute. This what you’re asking us to do…this is crazy. Let’s talk about it. Let’s stop the knee jerk reaction of the District Office to the latest ink-is-still-dry policy coming down from the state level. Lets develop some policy…good policy together” I don’t expect my principal to go far in our district with that attitude. Indeed, she can kiss a district-level position good-bye…and she better not even think about applying for an area superintendent opening. Indeed, for those jobs pragmatists must check their brain at the door to the district office.

        • Mary October 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm - Reply

          Isn’t that also part of the problem? Principals and other administrators are “climbing the ladder” to the next highest position. They aspire to be an assistant superintendent and ultimately a superintendent. Then they aspire to a cushy consulting job that will make them more money in a week than most teacher’s make in a year. What do teacher’s aspire to? Doing their job better next year, or even in the next class period. I work in alternative schools, which gives me the luxury of small classes and getting to know each of my kids individually. My exhaustion comes from constantly re-evaluating what I do, when I do it, and worse – how I can do it within the framework of that “Common Core” that was designed by politicians who can’t even keep their own “planners” in order. I love love LOVE my job, but I am counting the days to retirement in a way I never have before. That makes me sad.

        • tom ferguson October 6, 2012 at 12:04 am - Reply

          Hello Jeff,
          I agree with what you have said about the lack of administrators standing up and alongside their staff to push back at the type of reforms that are being foisted upon public education. Courage it would seem is a virtue in short supply when it comes to getting to the heart of some of the problems currently faced by educators. As Ed Abbey said, “Without courage all other virtues are wasted.”

        • Edu in GA October 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm - Reply

          Teachers should always be able to evaluate their principals and any administrator who evaluates them. Universities often use this practice. This would reduce the patronizing, and abuse of power of too many administrators. We need all of us to be treated as professionals!

        • Mary February 17, 2013 at 11:10 pm - Reply

          Thank you Jeff. I am now on Winter break and I have so much to do for school so as not to get behind when I get back. I have been teaching over 30 years and I have never felt this exhausted. These past 5 years have taken their toll on my health. But I keep going because what else are you going to do. Thank God this man spoke up. It won't be listened to but someone said it.

      • Michelle Hashbarger October 4, 2012 at 1:25 am - Reply

        Amen!!!

      • Bob Welch October 5, 2012 at 2:09 am - Reply

        I am not a teacher but my wife has been one for the past 20 years. I work in business and what I’ve consistently seen is that principals do not know how to manage well–neither their time nor their people. That said, I would definitely NOT want to manage teachers–they are a tough crowd. However, you’ve chosen this field so you better figure it out.

        Stop complaining about your work load and definitely lose the attitude about who is more tired. That indicates an immaturity that your position can’t afford. Teachers are the front line workers in this organization with a very unique set of responsibilities, something that your 6 years should have shown you. What they need from you is leadership–not someone who is comparing work hours and wanting a pity party.

        Further, this article was more than just an indication that teacher’s are tired. It addressed some of the root causes of the problems with education, something I would expect you to know quite a bit about. However, instead, you want to compare hours worked, as if that’s some indication of effectiveness or achievement.

        Your post indicates that you’ve lost your resilience and you need to take a step back. Your teachers need you to be better than this. I would suggest either go back to teaching or go back and get an MBA to learn how to manage.

        I don’t think that schools should be run like businesses–they are two completely different things. But administrators would do well to learn the skills necessary to manage people and to plan and execute strategic plans that most good businesses know how to do.

        Don’t get me wrong: you’ve got an incredibly tough job. But your attitude is a detriment to your effectiveness and frankly, in my vicarious experience, I see it as common among many of your fellow principals. Show me a school that’s performing well and I’ll show you a principal who knows how to manage people and provide the opportunity for the teachers to do what they’re passionately interested in doing. Yes, I know your responsibilities are more than that, but that’s where you should spend your time and not dwelling on who’s working harder than the other.

        • David Eckstrom October 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm - Reply

          AMEN! A huge part of the problem with public school administrators is that all they have ever been is teachers, and most of them never were even in the classroom long enough to have become master teachers. So, not only do they not know what it takes to be a good teacher, they are also hampered by the severe handicap of having never managed anyone but children. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, so principals, by and large, treat teachers like children.

          This, of course, is a strategy that will never work. Most schools experience whatever success they enjoy IN SPITE OF their leaders, not because of them. Patient, dedicated teachers shrug off ridiculous work rules, scatterbrained or simply absent priorities and spineless “leadership” and make the best of it.

          I have had the good fortune of working for one extremely good principal and I was in-freakin’-spired to go way above and beyond. Most of my career, I have worked for incompetent doofuses. Under their administration, good teachers have to work under the radar to stay out of the way of silly barriers erected by the supposed leader.

          This is what makes teachers tired. The job is hard enough without having to sneak around your boss to do it well.

          I wish every teacher could have an administrator like John Kuhn in their corner.

      • Kara Doyle October 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm - Reply

        As a principal I think you will have the right to complain when YOU are the one being bashed, second guessed, disrespected in politics and the media. As for right now dig in and support your teachers who, through their hard work will make you look good in the end.

        • overeducated underemployed October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm - Reply

          As a recent graduate from a nationally accredited teachers college in New York state who is painstakingly searching and yearning for an opportunity to teach our students and the new Common Core standards (which I have been trained to teach), I am so incredibly tired of hearing teachers complain about their jobs!!! Do any of you know how difficult it is to find a teaching job in this country? You should ALL count your lucky stars that you are even employed. If you can do nothing but complain instead of adapt and teach a curriculum that will help our students, then you need to GET OUT of the field and make way for a generation of teachers who are enthusiastic and willing to be in the classroom. By pitting yourselves against each other like this, you do nothing but prove what America says about the teachers in public schools. That being said, I completely agree with this article. I finished my student teaching in an urban school that was filled with students who live in poverty and have absentee parents. What I saw on a daily basis made me come home crying on some nights, but I still wouldn’t want to do anything other than be in that classroom everyday with those children. My students came to school every day burdened by their parents problems. Some of them were homeless, had drug dealer parents, or one had a parent who was so preoccupied with her own life that she couldn’t remember to give her son the medication he needed to concentrate and be successful at school. How can we expect these children to be successful when they are dealing with these problems on a daily basis? Parents need to be accountable for their children’s performance in school as well as the teachers. The problem with education is not the teachers, it’s that teachers and parents do not work together as a team to make school a positive experience for our children. Children should have a moral education from their parents before they even enter school. Instead, parents are more worried about being liked and getting their children the latest ipod, and leaving the character education to the teachers or throwing it to the way side all together. How are we supposed to teach our students reading writing, math, science, social studies, how to be a good hard working person, and make up for the crap their parents dish out to them everyday? Its a disgrace!!!

          • Teacher4ManyYears October 12, 2012 at 2:37 am

            Come back and talk to us when you have been in the trenches. You have no idea until you have done EVERYTHING the job entails.

          • Tired Teacher Too October 25, 2012 at 12:57 am

            AMEN!!!!!! If you haven't been in the trenches with us, then you cannot judge. Thank you Teacher4ManyYears

          • TiredTeacher October 14, 2012 at 11:08 pm

            I rarely comment on these types of threads, but seriously overeducated underemployed? You’re going to bash us with your first breath, then agree with us with your second? Until you’ve taught for a few years, please, don’t teacher-bash.

            I’m going to ignore the fact that your comment lacks any logic, and respond as if you made sense.

            Like you, I once thought teachers complained a lot. I thought I was going to be a breath of fresh air in the classroom. I thought the district that hired me was going to be SO LUCKY to get someone as enthusiastic as I was. And then I started teaching.

            Five years into a high school teaching career, and I’m already burnt out. I’m actively looking for something else to do with my life, and I would be HAPPY to give you my job once I find another career (which, I may add, is extremely hard to do; teaching degrees don’t get you much further than the classroom, so your suggestion to “GET OUT” is a little harder than it may seem. But you’ll figure that out for yourself someday).

            After you’ve taught a few years, I’d love to hear what you think. But until then, support your soon-to-be-coworkers, because you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • hm October 17, 2012 at 12:57 am

            teach a little in a full time capacity before going off about it. it is hard to find a job in NYS. with that said it is not as hard in other parts of the country. anyone who goes for teaching in NYS without the idea of moving is foolish.

          • Andrea October 24, 2012 at 11:38 am

            Be careful, overeducated underemployed, that you don’t alienate your more experienced colleagues when you do begin your teaching career. You will come to learn that youth and enthusiasm don’t last forever in the face of exhaustion, abuse from children and parents, and bullying from management. You may one day need the support of those teachers you now judge so harshly.

          • beentheredonethat February 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm

            Yeah…I was that young, entusiastic teacher just 5 short years ago. I am now officially burned out. My husband and I prayerfully decided to have me stay home and homeschool our two daughters. The system is broken. It needs so much to be fixed. As a parent and teacher I did not think it was fair to my own children to neglect them in order to reach children that had parents unable or unwilling to care for them. You definitely come home exhausted emotionally and physically. You also have some kind of deadline always looming. If you are doing your job well, every night there’s something to bring home. If I wasn’t going to be there for my kids, who would? I didn’t expect anyone else to step up for me. I didn’t want to be like so many of the parents I encountered everyday in teaching. I chose to be home and raise my children with a Charlotte Mason style education (which values manners, good habits and responsibility buidling in young children). We are now one income, and we had to cut back and cut out A LOT. I am irritated when people say “Oh, I wish I could afford to stay home.” Most people could if they changed their lifestyle enough. Children should trump owning things any day. Parents need to be present for their kids. It really matters, and I feel like so many people don’t feel that same urgency.

          • Summer February 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm

            I would like to see what you post in about five years. I would also like to see if you are still a teacher after five years. Most young teachers LEAVE within the first two or three years because they are demoralized by the reality of what they are up against by politicians and administrators. I changed careers at 42, took a huge pay raise and have been teaching for 14 years now. Sad to say, I can’t wait until I can retire in five years. I am tired of having to perform the job that parents should be doing — character education, healthy health habits (I cleaned up spit from my floor the other day because the 12 year old didn’t know that it would probably be better to spit in a tissue or at the the very least a trash can). The parents are obnoxious, rude, crude, loud, in you face and not very well educated themselves. They don’t teach civility because they themselves don’t know the meaning of the word. The parents are bullies and their chilren imitate this bullying behavior. Yes, I teach in a low-income school, but coming from a low income home is NOT an excuse for acting like feral creatures straight from the gutter.

            I don’t feel it is or should be my job to be a role model or to teach character education. That is the job of the parents. Period. End of story.

            The article is true. The article is so true it has made some of the responders uncomfortable.

          • Jason March 1, 2013 at 1:21 am

            With no full time classroom experience you have no perspective here. Try not to talk about “common core” or any other fad as if its a cure-all. It’s not. Also: you’d do we’ll to read the great book, TEACHING AS A SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITY in your time off. Also, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF CHILDHOOD helps explain a lot of our teaching problems too. Hang in there. The job will come and when it does you’ll beg for your valet parking job back. (I did– then I quit teaching and took it back, and made more per hour).

      • Teacher too October 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm - Reply

        I arrive before my principal and leave after her. What you feel teachers feel everyday. We don’t get any respect or sympathy, who why a pity party for you?

      • Doreen October 7, 2012 at 3:35 am - Reply

        I hate to tell you this, Mr, Principal, but I am a teacher and am usually at school an hour before my principal and assistant principal, and very often when I leave, I see that the administration has already left, And, I am not the only teacher who works these long hours! When the school is open on the weekends, you will be able to find a handful of teachers working for FREE, trying to catch up with all of their work.

        I feel burned out already, and it is only October! More, more and more is being asked of teachers all the time. There is just not enough time during school hours to meet all of the demands, and I am really tired of being blamed for everything that is wrong with kids and education.

        Teachers are just one part of the puzzle. We have a great influence on children, and we have the ability to make a big difference in a child’s life. BUT we cannot be blamed for everything that goes wrong!!!!.

      • Ctbeachbm October 7, 2012 at 3:46 am - Reply

        Why did you become a principal? Stop moaning, you also make more than anyone else in your building!

    • CNY 20+year-veteran EDUCATOR October 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      TIME.
      This article was very well-written and targeted so many pieces to the huge puzzle we are currently facing as educators.
      I consider myself an effective teacher with many very efficient procedures to well-manage my classroom.
      TIRED.
      I am so worn out trying to meet the needs of the students in my classroom.
      Their needs are at an all-time high and flowing into the classroom daily.
      And yet the overall curriculum was as equally needy at this time.
      PLEASE send help to our schools.
      Everyone can help our youth.
      VOLUNTEERS.
      Our schools need as many volunteers as we can recruit.
      Please reach out and find little ways to HELP any local school.
      * go sit in a classroom and listen to a student READ
      * offer to read to the whole class while the teacher gathers materials for the next lesson plan
      * visit a classroom regularly ans help students remain quiet and productive during independent work time so the classroom teacher can conduct a small-group guided reading lesson
      * help a child sort and organize his/her backpack (that noone at home has shown interest in)
      * help a student clean out his/her locker or desk so he/she may find things as needed to be prepared learning
      APPRECIATIVE and GRATEFUL
      Any teacher in America could type the longest list of things that take up his/her TIME and prevent him/her from sitting still, concentrating and preparing lesson PLANS and materials to ENGAGE our children.
      It is TIME to collaborate, once again, and change the times.
      Our children NEED us to work together and show them the right way.
      This cannot be the model for yet another generation.
      I am on-board.
      Just NOT certain where to jump.
      And THANK YOU to all of the fine educators that “give it all they got ” and keep coming back.
      Together WE can.

      • helpful parent February 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm - Reply

        FYI…many schools are no longer allowing parent volunteers in the classrooms. This is because teachers and/or administrators don’t want them there; and for school safety reasons. In the earlier years, I offered to help in the classroom and was told “no” and “parents can hep at parties, but not help in the classroom”.

    • Phil October 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      I know what you mean!!! I have never been so wiped this early! I look at my class of 4th graders and find maybe 4 or 5 who's parents have taught them respect, self pride in success, or much else positive.

  5. JanofMI September 30, 2012 at 12:08 am - Reply

    Oh, how true. I wonder if this was sent to Mr. Obama if it would be one of the 10 letters from Main Street Americans that he is given each day to read. I doubt it. I have retired from teaching and do not miss all of the hoops. I miss the kids, even those from this “entitled generation”.

    • Ivy Fisher October 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm - Reply

      After 19 years, I left too. The only thing I miss is the kids, even the unruly "messed up" ones. I think I cared too much and the emotional burden I felt for my students wore me down and finally OUT.

      • patricia hourihan October 2, 2012 at 9:46 pm - Reply

        I think I was in your boat. I left after 35= yrs., but i was completely burned out for, I think , the reasons you cite.

        • Randy Harrell October 3, 2012 at 1:51 am - Reply

          I too retired from teaching because of the demands put on teachers and the lack of appreciation. Teachers are only human. Politiciians want every one treated the same, but that is unrealistic because no one is alike. Some students need a slower curriculum in math, but may need a faster one in another area. Does that mean they can’t learn. Absolutely not, it means they can learn everything at the same pace. I excelled in math and taught math, however, when put in a literature class I struggled. I was not an avid reader and it took me longer to achieve in that class. My last year of teaching we gave benchmark tests and were asked what “we” were doing to improve test scores. I finally told them not to ask me that again because no one has asked students what they can do, or parents, or administrators, much less politicians that think they know it all. Teaching is no longer the respected occupation it use to be. I loved it when I started, but by my last year it was a struggle. I even had better test scores when we were allowed to differentiate in our classrooms and were allowed to teach and were backed by administrators.

          • Tired-2-in-CA March 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm

            Sigh, I subbed 6 years in every subject, every level that you can name. When my own kids were on good footing in school, I took a contract in 2 academic subjects….when NCLB came along and I had to “coach” my students to “lie” or read verbatim standards off the board to admin or our official PIS visitors when they swept through our room and grilled the kids——when those students were begging to keep studying/delving deeper into a favored core novel….(.but that would placed us “off the pacing guide”)…..I cried the whole way home many nights knowing that it wasn’t leaving “no child” behind—-it was leaving EVERY child behind. Finally, when asked, I “ran away” to art—my first degree. Every year I fear that I won’t have this job (b/c isn’t education ONLY about language arts and math????) and will have to return to
            academia. In my art room, the first thing I do is “coach” kids to NEVER do anything that would bring “one of those people” (admin, district, disgruntled parents, gov’t. officials and so on….) into “OUR SPACE.” I ask them to dare to build a world of learning and doing with me, one that belongs to their own childhood and NOT to anyone else’s yardstick. Most of the time, we’re pretty good, because, no one cares too much about the arts in school anymore and so we’re already relagated to our “own little corner of the world.” I’ve often veiwed education as a 4-legged dog: parents, teachers, admin, and student. Sadly, my dogs have been limping along on less than 4 legs my entire 21-year career—-missing one leg or the other (or more than that). That, in a nutshell is what exhausts me.

      • Ryan October 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm - Reply

        This is my second and last year of teaching. My colleagues are surprised that I am hopping the boat so soon, but then again, they tell me they wish that they could leave, too. I teach an elective course that is being severely cut in my area of the country. The district has decided that my curriculum and area of expertise is obsolete. My school is urban and about 2% away from being title 1. I am tired already. The way I see it, even though I love the kids, I need something more intellectually stimulating and more financially rewarding. Because let’s face it, unless you go into administration, which is usually a death sentence for your creativity and self-worth, teaching is a one way street. You teach for 30 years. I just can’t do that. And I’m not the only recent college grad who feels that way. I’ll miss my students, but the light at the end of the tunnel from all of the problems that this article touches on is the thing keeping me going this year.

    • Kim November 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm - Reply

      That's president Obama. Thank God you retired, I can feel your negative attitude through your words which intern is negative energy conduction via your instruction. Students internalize your presentation.

  6. Tammy Sykes September 30, 2012 at 12:11 am - Reply

    Television shows like The Simpsons and Southpark are not the problem and never were. They are witty, intelligent satires that were not created for children. The problem is that adults allow, even encourage their very young children to watch them. If any of you pay attention to those shows… their message exactly matches that of John Kune. The problem is that parents have largely chosen not to parent or they do not know how.

    • Nichole Jones October 1, 2012 at 4:01 am - Reply

      I agree with you, Tammy. The Simpsons is great satire. Those who understand the genre know that it pokes fun at society’s imperfections. The Simpsons (and shows like it) are not meant to be taken literally and therefore, they are actually geared toward higher level thinking individuals– NOT children. Another scapegoat. Parents should know better than to allow their children to watch such shows until they are mature enough to understand the realm.

      • beth October 1, 2012 at 11:18 pm - Reply

        You're assuming that the parents a) understood that the show was satire, b) cared enough to vet the programs they allowed their children to watch c) were even around to monitor what was being watched d) all of the above. I am convinced that a significant portion of the audience for shows like these have no concept of parody, satire or sarcasm.

        • Patrice October 2, 2012 at 10:52 am - Reply

          Agreed!

      • Joules Newton October 5, 2012 at 3:50 am - Reply

        That’s funny! My son [now 18] would tell people at school in K that “we don’t watch the yellow people at our house.” I knew better.

    • salinerobin October 1, 2012 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Well stated, Tammy. Absolutely true.

    • Lindsay October 2, 2012 at 12:44 am - Reply

      I watched the Simpsons from the age of 5 until the present day and I managed to get straight A's and graduate from college Magna Cum Laude with no disciplinary problems whatsoever. Passing the problem off to a TV show is just another way of passing the buck. I teach college and I teach dance to middle school children and I see the same things in both groups – entitlement. My college students think they should get an A simply because they are also working or parenting or what have you. We've taught generations that they don't have to work hard for things. That's the real problem.

      • Nathan February 5, 2013 at 10:52 pm - Reply

        That's great that you were able to do that, but the reality that you sure must have noticed by now with those grades is that most people are not as smart as you. You were able to keep perspective with what you watched – and again, that's great. However, not everyone is able to do that, particularly at a young age.

    • Mbvntx October 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm - Reply

      I am always appalled when parents let their children watch shows like the Simpsons and South Park. When the Simpson's first aired, my son was in elementary school. He was not allowed to watch. Think he saw his first episode in high school. By then he was a good student, who repected others including his teachers, and understood what satire was.

    • momof4 October 18, 2012 at 3:45 am - Reply

      Exactly why my children aren't allowed to watch them. Not even allowed to watch rugrats. Because I won't let them think for 1 second that I think being disrespectful is okay, or funny. The problem is parents and nothing is going to change as long as parents continue to abdicate their responsibilities.

    • Tony Stephens January 21, 2013 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      I've always thought of my own children and my students as like sail boats. They tack back and forth through troubled waters trying to avoid the garbage and danger. If they have a good rudder and someone to teach them how to navigate they can make it through without irreparable harm. But, as John Kuhn so eloquently points out, far too many kids today are raising themselves and often their younger siblings as well. To expect them to be able to view the garbage they see on television, whether satire or reality tv, and recognize it as satire or see that it does not represent an ideal reality is foolish. They can not and they do not. Like all of the sad societal ills that Mr. Kuhn describes, the explanation is simple: "The pursuit of money is the root of all evil."

  7. Guest September 30, 2012 at 9:35 am - Reply

    Perhaps an article complaining about how ALL teachers are portrayed as this or that would be more effective if it didn't then state ALL parents have "waved the white flag."

    • Zach October 1, 2012 at 1:05 am - Reply

      Thought you might have a valid point, so I went back up and read that section again. It doesn't say all parents have waved the white flag, it says there is a growing number of parents who have.

    • gfrblxt October 1, 2012 at 1:08 am - Reply

      "A swelling army of kid-whipped or addiction-addled American parents have totally abdicated the job of parenting and have raised the white flag when it comes to disciplining their children or teaching them virtues like honesty, hard work, and self-respect."

      So, what you're saying is, you didn't read the article. Lovely. And teachers wonder why they're tired – it's because it is not only tougher in schools, but it's tougher to find people outside of them who really understand what goes on there.

      • JPG October 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm - Reply

        How do you spell ALL? I'm pretty sure it's not spelled, "A SWELLING ARMY". But then again, you're obviously not a teacher so you have no idea what goes on inside a school. Going to school doesn't qualify you as being an expert on education. Neither does watching or reading the crap the media is spouting. And yes, I mean ALL media.

        • Brosk October 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm - Reply

          and I love how 11 people agreed with "guest" without reading it as well… typical.

          • Chris November 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm

            This was obviously a person who didn't pay attention to the details or read the instructions carefully while in school. I'm a teacher and i agree with this completely. This guy hits it on the head with this article.

        • MAMS February 24, 2013 at 6:33 pm - Reply

          I agree with you JPG. A swelling Army isn't ALL! It just means more and more parents are doing this. I agree. As a teacher, not having parental support stinks to high heaven. Thankfully, I have some; however, where I need it most…. NADA. With parent teacher conferences coming up this week, I don't have the 3-4 students' parents coming. Giving them a call tomorrow, Tuesday, and Wednesday. If they don't show, the social worker and I are home visiting. Above and beyond is what it's going to take!

  8. Guest September 30, 2012 at 9:59 am - Reply

    So tired too….I've already had a severe sinusitus and now 2 weeks later, bronchitus….stressful.

    • TooTiredToTeach October 8, 2012 at 12:03 am - Reply

      Me, too. I've had bronchial pneumonia already, and I missed 6 days. My principal was not happy with me.

      • momnancy October 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm - Reply

        Sorry, unliked your comment when I meant to do that to the one above. His was a petty snipe.

    • AtEndOfRope October 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm - Reply

      We are in our 8th week of school and I have never had a classroom of more disrespectful students than this year! I, too, am so exhausted and after 14 years of teaching I am thinking that I need to GET OUT! I am one of those teachers that feels overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time…it is incomprehensible to me that society can be healthy with the families and educational system we have today!

    • Scott March 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      Ain't nobody got time for that!

  9. @bbouton September 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    when speaking to the PA that oversees our counties Health Clinic I found that, overall, the teachers he is seeing are exhausted and more are asking about "stress medication" than ever before…we're worn out and it's just October…

    • Tchr4lifein NC September 30, 2012 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      They are either over stressed or depressed!

  10. Lane Maddie September 30, 2012 at 11:15 am - Reply

    I'm not a teacher but my wife is. I sometimes get upset when I get home and dinner isn't even started and she had to take a nap after she got home from work, but I know she is working hard. I do realize that teaching more often a thankless job of trying to engage a bunch of 15 year olds with what she is required to teach. She sometimes complains about how I make twice as much as her without having a college degree. I tell her that never has any teenager totally lit up on seeing me when I walk into a restaurant when we are out in town, she gets that regularly. It's not the teachers, its the parents. I totally agree with this article, everyone in the country should read it.

    • Ann S. October 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      THANK YOU!!! I wish you would tell all husbands of the world the SAME thing. Your wife is blessed.

      • Cde October 15, 2012 at 1:34 am - Reply

        I think your a freak it's too bad your wife still puts up with you. If your making so much money get her a cleaning person and YOU cook her dinner! I truly believe you are a moron and have no idea what it would be like to try and teach a bunch of ungrateful teenagers. We know they have no idea what the real world is really like and we try to teach them right from wrong, not even R,W & A forget that, they think the government will send them a check because that's what their parents get. Oh wait that's probably what will happen, and my taxes will go from 25% if my check to 50%.

        • Sarah March 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm - Reply

          Your is a possession word…you're is a contraction for you are…if more people modeled better English, maybe teacher's jobs could be just a little easier!

        • JC March 16, 2013 at 11:49 am - Reply

          It always pains me to see poor grammar on posts like this. I agree with Sarah on this one – it’s definitely difficult to make your point when glaring errors detract from your overall meaning. I hope that YOUR students know the difference before YOU’RE in hot water…

    • Gindy53 October 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      Good on you for understanding teaching is hard, now make your own dinner or make one for her.
      Sheesh. I f my working husband was mad about dinner not being done he'd be in a hotel. You have two hands, use the things.

      • liveandletlive October 5, 2012 at 12:45 am - Reply

        I was about to jump on the make your own dinner thing, too! Couples work chores out, at least in my household we do, so maybe it’s her night or something…anyway, kudos to the man for acknowledging that his wife (and most teachers) is overworked and underpaid, and for bringing light to the fact that he makes more than she does on less education. I’ve been teaching for 19 years and I’m actually having thoughts about entering other fields, or at least teaching abroad.

      • jsdfghj February 2, 2013 at 10:52 am - Reply

        Good on you??? Is that even English? It's Good FOR you!!

        • spotter February 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm - Reply

          It is. It's just not as commonly used in American English, though I heard it frequently while in Australia and the UK. It's not the sort of phrase one would use in formal writing, but colloquially it's widely used and accepted.

    • tom October 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      get another job

      • dave October 1, 2012 at 9:46 pm - Reply

        yea,its the truth

    • Another Teacher October 2, 2012 at 12:58 am - Reply

      Thank you for being a supportive husband. I too have an amazingly supportive husband. Being a teacher is hard, but being a teacher w/out a supportive spouse would be impossible. It's not easy being the spouse either…I'm sure I bore mine to death w/details of my students…but he still listens.

      • asdfghjk February 2, 2013 at 10:54 am - Reply

        Supportive? He gets mad when his wife doesn't have dinner cooked for his chauvinistic lazy ass. Then he tells her that she should be grateful she has teenagers light up seeing her outside of school. How is that supportive??? He is an ass! She should dump him and find a new man who actually loves and cares for her!

        • LeAnn February 21, 2013 at 1:13 am - Reply

          Because divorce will fix everything! Telling her t leave is ignorant. Teaching is a difficult, challenging, and rewarding job. Its something ive never loved so much or hated so much. Ive cried more this year than ever before in my 14 years if teaching. I have supportive children who tell me I deserve to be treated better. Until teachers can be treated as respected professionals, it will not improve. Kids don’t care and know we have to pass them. No child left behind. They cant read but they will graduate.

    • math teacher October 2, 2012 at 1:20 am - Reply

      She's blessed if she has a husband who understands and twice blessed if she has the time to take naps. I teach ….and I stay at school until somewhere between 5 & 6:30 every day…then I bring 4-5 hours more work home….plus, ALLLLLLLL weekend is spent grading, filling out required reports, and planning for the next week. My planning time at school is taken by meetings and helping students. I'M EXHAUSTED!!!

      • Natalie October 15, 2012 at 2:18 am - Reply

        I still work very hard but I used to be more like you! Take a break for yourself!!!!!! I've learned not to do so much and I've been much happier! Make sure you are taking care of your body, health, emotions, etc. 🙂

    • choirbebe October 3, 2012 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      Your wife is home in time to start dinner? With or without needing a nap, I’m impressed.

    • 11 years and fed up February 6, 2013 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      As a teacher (paid for 37 hours a week/working 65 hours a week) I thank you for the overall-supportive tone of your reply, but…
      You get upset when you get home and SHE hasn't already started dinner? This IS 2013, right? And you both work full-time? And you are a responsible adult, who can safely operate a stove or microwave on your own? At the very least, you are able to drive a car, and make it through a restaurant carry-out line successfully? There are seven dinners each week. This week, 4 of them are your responsibility – and you should really consider taking your wife OUT someplace nice this weekend. She deserves it. Next week, 3 dinners are your responsibility. Wake up, Mr. Cleaver – the 21st century needs to enlighten you about a few things.

      • Sara June 5, 2013 at 6:57 am - Reply

        Excuse me.
        You must be a Baby Boomer who is still in rebellion to their WWII generation parents.
        Some of us actually like the fact that our spouse’s take on one or more primary role.
        As this article has pointed out, and many of the commenters, much of the problem, if it isn’t obvious, with regard to parents having the time to raise and discipline their kids, has to do with both parents working and pursuing “careers.”
        Having a parent at home (male or female) is a good thing.
        Having a spouse who primary takes care of certain things is a good thing. Who are you to tell them how they should arrange things in their household? For all you know they have discussed it in great detail and she likes to cook, and prefers to take on that role.
        Just because one spouse cooking and cleaning happens to be a woman, doesn’t mean it’s sexist or chauvinistic.
        And neither does everyone have to be “equal” and share everything in a relationship. It’s ok if one partner is stronger, or takes on more than the other. Some people can’t handle as much of a load, and it’s compassionate and loving to the other partner to do more for them. Being married is a team, not scale that needs to be perfectly balanced.
        I like being a housewife. I also like going to Business School.
        There will be a time when I go back out and do professional work.
        But in the meantime I stay home and make meals, for my spouse who is the Head of our household.
        If/When we have kids, I may stay home again, because we both feel children should have a parent around.
        My spouse complains if I don’t have dinner ready too. My spouse also works hard and pushes themself too hard a lot of the time, and really appreciates a hug and a nice meal when they come home.
        Please take your rebellion against the 50’s and chuck it out the window.
        There were some real problems with race, gay rights, and ridged gender roles.
        But that doesn’t mean one spouse can’t be a housewife (male or female) and the other spouse expect it, or that everyone must treat marriages like business mergers or divorces like divestitures. That’s not a healthy way to view a family.
        My spouse is happily the boss.
        And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
        I’d be very unhappy if it was.
        There’s a reason why 50 shades of grey sold so many copies. Many people want more, than what the Baby Boomer idea of marriage offered them as an example.
        And not just being kinky, also in terms of roles, authority, and hierarchy within the home.
        Maybe you think I’m old fashioned?
        I’m also a Buddhist lesbian.
        How’s that for “traditional?”

    • Summer February 23, 2013 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      At least your wife could quit teaching — some of us don't have a spouse who could support us.

  11. dora_belle September 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    This was very a complete and eloquent piece. It is so good to know that we are not alone. I wish there were more solutions available to us but with the current climate our (teachers') opinions or suggestions would not be taken seriously.

  12. liz September 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Lane Maddie: you get UPSET when dinner isn't ready when you get home??? Grow up and cook something on your own. You have NO IDEA what it's like being a teacher. Maybe you could be a real man and cook for your wife once in a while. You're lucky to have her!!

    • Jennifer Jones September 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      Leave him alone, Liz. He’s trying to make a point, and it’s a good one. The kids love his wife because she’s a good teacher. She works hard for those kids. They know it, and he knows it. Stop focusing on the nonissue.

      • liz October 1, 2012 at 12:50 am - Reply

        I'll focus on what I please. Thanks for the suggestion, though. NOT!

        • Jeremy October 1, 2012 at 3:34 am - Reply

          He pointed out his own misconception. He is trying to understand what he is not in a position to. He has a different schema than we do as teachers, but it is pretty well implied that he is aware of that fact. If you are going to speak on educators’ behalf, please work to sound educated. Thank you for your passionate support, however! I, for one, appreciate it.

        • jessica October 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm - Reply

          how old are you? you sound very mature. are you even married? i am, so i know it's a team effort. it sounds to me like he gets home after her so yes it makes sense that she would be the one to start dinner. he probably has certain things that he does too. i also agree that you are a little too focused on the nonissue here.

        • SraProfe October 4, 2012 at 2:51 am - Reply

          Wow! You sound like one of my students? Focus on what you like, then attack anyone who disagrees.

        • Amy February 21, 2013 at 11:40 pm - Reply

          Liz is right. We are living in 2013. While Lane makes good points, both partners are perfectly able to prepare dinner, etc. Leave her alone.

  13. beentheredonethatmom September 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Yes! Teachers are given the part of parenting that teaches character, middle school bullies have the part of parenting where the kid is disciplined for not conforming (for better or worse), and starter marriages teach relationship skills.

    Households where both parents have outside employment and are absent or just too tired to do the work of parenting is part of the problem. What does the world need? More stay-at-home DADS

    • Jennifer Jones September 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Well said! My husband is a stay at home dad. This is a misunderstood profession down here in Texas. We're very happy about the situation, but most people don't get it.

    • guest October 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm - Reply

      The problem is not that we need more stay-at-home parents. That just as often breeds kids who are not able to go out and live life on their own as much as kids without stay-at-home parents breeds kids who have other issues. Especially in this economy, most homes who are lucky enough to have 2 parents need to have both parents work just to pay the bills. The problem is how those working parents balance work and home. I won the “parent lottery,” as the author mentioned. Both my parents worked my entire life. However, they made it a priority to make it home in time for all 4 of us (mom, dad, and 2 kids) to sit down to a family meal (most times home cooked by mom, sometimes fast food, depending on the evenings activities). The problem is not working parents vs. stay-at-home parents, it is how high of a priority the working parents make family time. Instead of working overtime just to be able to by the boats, RVs, and latest ipads or phones, schedule a day at the park, or a camping trip full of walks and bicycle rides and beach days. Throw out the TV that eats so much of everyone’s free time and play a game of UNO before the kids go to bed. THOSE are the memories that make childhood great. Those are the moments that children will remember, not the time that mom and dad let them stay up late eating junkfood and watching the Simpsons. Parents: TAKE TIME OUT WITH YOUR CHILDREN!!! Enjoy them. Or else, why did you have children in the first place? And don’t tell me it was an accident…We all know how to prevent pregnancy.

    • Retired teacher October 3, 2012 at 3:34 am - Reply

      We need parents who stay at home after the kids are home! So many have their own agendas. Whatever makes them happy right? Not what makes them responsible, just happy! So many kids talk about their parents partying and drinking and going out–dang, I was always too tired after teaching their kids all day to even think about it!

    • Nnn October 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      Ha! A stay-at-home-parent is the solution? How are you going to explain that to all of those teachers with families? You think their salary is enough to make ends meet as the ONLY income in their household? Think again! In some areas of the country it may be, but so many of our (especially rural) schools are so underfunded that even TWO teacher incomes in a household leaves parents scraping to get by.

  14. […] With the 2012-2013 American school year still in its infancy, it’s worthwhile to note that the people doing the actual educating are down in the dumps. Many feel more beaten down this year than last. Some are walking into their classrooms unsure if this is still the job for them. Their hearts ache with a quiet anguish that’s peculiarly theirs. They’ve accumulated invisible scars from years of trying to educate the increasingly hobbled American child effectively enough that his international test scores will rival those of children flourishing in wealthy, socially-advanced Scandinavian nations and even wealthier Asian city-states where tiger moms value education like American parents value fast food and reality TV. More… […]

  15. @DukeSkath September 30, 2012 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    Very well said. Thanks you, from a HS English teacher in Wisconsin.

    I especially enjoyed: "across the finish line ahead of the Finnish lions". Nice.

  16. Guest September 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    I'm a new teacher and have to admit, I doubt it will be for more than a year or two. I'm tired, frustrated, and feel like it just isn't worth the stress. There are so many discipline problems among my students. About 20 of my kids have been suspended this school year already (not to mention the two that were arrested). There are so many challenges to teaching, many of which I never thought there would be in abundance. I have so many special education students that obviously need more assistance. How does one help all students when you have to deal with frequent outbursts and disrespectful kids that don't try to do anything except socialize? I haven't the time to say much more since there is work to be done but I agree, teachers are tired. Just because the day ends at 3:30 doesn't mean many of us get to relax at home or even the weekend. If I didn't think a security clearance might be a possibility in the future, I'd go to the doctor and look into some stress pills. *sad*

    • bossygirl1980 October 1, 2012 at 12:19 am - Reply

      You should think about submitting an article for their "New Teachers" Story..anonymously of course..

    • Jenn October 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm - Reply

      I know your pain. I made it three years in Orange County, Florida. I decided a master’s degree and change in career was the way to go in 2008 when my principal (who was awesome, btw; loved working for her) said that she couldn’t offer tenure anymore and our wages would be frozen for at least a couple years.

      My dear, if you already know you’re done, then leave. Just make sure you know where you’re going instead.

    • Darlene October 3, 2012 at 3:13 am - Reply

      I'm new to teaching this year too, and I hear you on the unbelievable stress. I spend so much of the day feeling somewhere between hopeless and anxious. Your situation sounds way worse than mine. In fact, the small private school I work in is a very cooperative and caring environment. I couldn't be luckier, but I still feel entirely overwhelmed and two steps behind where I need to be. Even when the administration is wholly supportive of my vision, I still have parents ready to eat me alive. When you don't look any older than their eighth grade daughter, parents treat you like an inexperienced and overly educated smart ass.

      • Karen October 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm - Reply

        I am new to teaching, too, but I am in my late 30s. I definitely look older than my sixth grade students, though I'm not much taller. The parents still don't treat me any better. I think this article hits the nail on the head. The parents don't want to do the parenting, but they sure do want to point out our flaws when we take over the responsibility!

    • Retired teacher October 3, 2012 at 3:35 am - Reply

      How much help do you get from your administrators? That's the "other" problem.

    • TooTiredToTeach October 8, 2012 at 12:09 am - Reply

      Bless your heart, new teacher. I feel so badly for you. I'm nearly 60 and they have no respect for me. I can't imagine being young like you and trying to manage those age kids. I wonder what they will do when we all drop out of the profession? No amount of money is worth all the stress and pressure they put on us today. God bless you!

    • Roger C. October 10, 2012 at 1:52 am - Reply

      I'm a long-term sub and I got yelled at by the principal because the kids don't want to work. I was like, what can I do???!!! This is not the field I majored in, these kids are some of the worst in the school and your instructions are basically the cause of all the problems! I just decided to do my own thing, and if they remove me, I will be happy to go. I get paid all the same, and other schools are appreciative of my work. I want to know who they would replace me with, because I was supposedly the best! I'm in Colorado.

    • KellyCzekanski October 14, 2012 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      I am a specail educator and I feel your pain. Don't quit. Those students need you …. they just can't tell you. I have had many students with severe behaviors and I too get exhausted, beatten down and I cry alot! But I make myself stop and I think of a funnel and I ask myselt "What do they really need from me?" "How can I meet those needs?" Co teach with the specail education teacher. That will help in that area.

      I know my students in and out. Better than their parents sometimes. The trick to working with students with severe behaviors is short commands, being able to start fresh each transition and FOLLOW THROUGH with any consequences and rewards. I have literally went to my student's classroom when the teacher has called me, got a chair and sat next to him. Prompting him to work. I didn't say please, I didn't explain. "Pick up your pencil and work." They will fight at first, but they appreciate it more than you think.

    • momof4 October 18, 2012 at 3:49 am - Reply

      int he same boat as you are! I cannot even begin to tell you the filth that flows out of these students mouths like they are breathing! And then it's…"sorry…my bad." That's how they talk at home, and they can't shut it off! Then there is the outbursts and the anger, the complete lack of boundaries, "I swear to GOD if you do that AGAIN I'm gonna CUT YOU!" and then they are up. "Aw no…we's just playin…." but the whole class is disrupted. Sooooooo tired……

    • Tired February 1, 2013 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      Doctors treat one diagnosis at a time, but teachers have to deal with 20+ different specific special needs in one room at 100% passing the test.

  17. Chichi September 30, 2012 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    When you put a list of putdowns of teachers like that, I see why respect for teachers has gone so low. The problem is too huge, multifaceted and we can't just heap blame on teachers.

  18. Eric September 30, 2012 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Last week, our director of middle schools came through, and did walk-through observations of everyone's classrooms. She went through our lesson plan books. She noted our activities. She made sure our Essential Question, "I can…" and "I will…" statements, and that what we were doing matched up with Common Core.

    The next day, each grade level met with the administration for a PLC. The Principal proudly announced that the Director of Middle Schools was extremely impressed with what she saw, and that our school was on the ball and was ahead of the curve in implementing Common Core. She and he both were all full of positives about what we were doing, and it made us feel that we were doing an awesome job.

    Then the Principal changed the subject, and in the process of this showed us a graph of one randomly chosen 8th grader who was "at risk" of failing. He was 50th-60th percentile on the state standard tests throughout elementary school, but in 6th and 7th grade was only 20th-30th percentile. The algorithm predicted him to do no better than 45th percentile in 8th grade. The Principal then commented that this student was "typical" of our school's students.

    Wait… We're apparently doing everything right by your observations, but then we're obviously doing it all wrong when students drop so much when they come to our school according to the data? That's the nightmare of a meeting I sat through this past week, and that is EXACTLY what this article is pointing at. I'm working my ass off, and I'm getting told in one breath I'm doing awesome, but being shown that I'm failing miserably the next breath.

    • Adam H October 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm - Reply

      An in-law of mine was recently asking me, because I am also in the state retirement system (though not a teacher), to help her calculate EXACTLY the day she is eligible for retirement sometime next year. She has been teaching since the 1970s but is close to not even capable of going into work anymore. Recently, in front of a whole faculty meeting, her principal (~age 30) asked her (~age 60) if she knew what email was!

      Bad enough to get so much abuse and disrespect from the students, the parents, and the media, but now her own supposed "support group" is doing it!

      • Summer February 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm - Reply

        Unbelievable that your in-law had to put up with that type of abuse from a "child" of 30 who obviously is a product of a generation who thinks showing a lack of respect is the "way things are". I am 56 years old and have been teaching for 14 years and I was on the Internet before some of these morons were even born back in the 1980's. Trust me, if someone in my generation disrespected them it would be whole new ball game now wouldn't it? I bet the 30-something can't even spell or string a sentence together properly if it came right down to it or has to use a calculator to do simple calculations. I love the kids and I absolutely loathe the adults who are in charge — politicians, administrators, workshop advisors, or other assorted personnel who think they know what is best. Most have never been in the classroom and some were only in the classroom for a very short time.

        I wish you in-law the best and when she retires — I hope she goes out with bang and not a whimper and then uses her intelligence and her voice to pass the word along of what is really going on in the American classroom.

        Sick of the disrespect!
        Summer

    • Linda October 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      You nailed the crux that thwarts our courage

    • hanging on October 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      This is what we hear as well. In fact, this article was sent as a way to boost our self-esteem and to show us we are not alone. "Even though you're tired, you're doing an amazing job!" was the feedback. Don't get me wrong getting some sort of recognition for the hard work is appreciated. However, when the data is shown right after it pretty much negates the accolades. We are now piloting the new teacher evaluatution system. Lots of standards to document and prove with evidence. Hmmm, what must be sacrificed so that we can show we are proficient at what we do? And time to do this…well if we want to keep our jobs figure it out. So why stay? I love the kids. They are the fall-out of this mess. One day they will be taking care of us.

    • Mary October 7, 2012 at 11:53 pm - Reply

      Since when did a child become an algorithm? That's the problem with the system right there. (Not saying you treat them like that, but that the system does).

    • Sarah October 12, 2012 at 1:12 am - Reply

      How can this be sustainable? The situation you described here is by no means unique. How long before our exhaustion and our demoralization over failing yet again to meet impoasible expectations exceeds our passion for teaching and our concern for kids?

    • Tracey October 14, 2012 at 6:20 pm - Reply

      EVERY staff meeting I attend leaves me saddened, depressed and ready to throw up my hands and quit!!! I try so hard at the start of every day to be positive and really BE THERE for my kids. BUT… it seems like every turn, there is something else to add to the stress… something else to do. I understand, oh how I understand.

    • Linda January 21, 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply

      I had that conversation with my administrator on Friday. "You're doing everything perfectly! You're a great teacher. Why aren't the kids doing better?

    • adrenalsaredryingup February 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      I know exactly what you mean. We had a PLC last week and they did the same thing to us except it was way more negative. We were basically told that it was our faults that the students were failing. I love teaching. I love my kids (even the trouble-makers). I hate the bureaucracy. I hate the put-downs and the blame-games. I live and work in a poverty-stricken area where children are the by-products of children and many live with the nightmare of drug-abuse in their families. Students come to school hungry because mom used the food money to buy meth. The few privileged students are just that, spoiled rotten and feel like they deserve an A just for showing up. Despite all those problems I trudge on, feeling smaller and smaller everyday. I work all day at school and then late into the night when I get home. I am frustrated beyond belief and my nerves are shot. Some days I think my colleagues will need to pull me from the ceiling. Why? I was given the lowest grade level class with 21 behaviorally and LD children in one room for 1.5 hours everyday for an entire year. And yes, I have them right after lunch. Drama, behavior, neediness, lack of parental support, bullying, you name it. I can't teach in that environment. I was told to change the environment. Obviously it is my fault that I have so many issues in one classroom and can't manage it. I am emotionally and physically drained. And changing school districts doesn't help by the way. I've been in 4 districts in two states. It's all the same where ever you go. This time around I feel even more defeated than anywhere else I've been. At least in the last 3 districts I was told by my colleagues, admin, the College Board, and the accreditation committee that I was an excellent teacher with rigorous and relevant lessons that engage students. Now I'm being told that I'm a weak teacher and lack classroom management skills. I can feel my adrenal glands drying up right now. There is not much left…

    • Barb February 27, 2013 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      I am right with you! We are busting our butts trying to improve these kids….75 percent of our kids are accelerated or advanced yet we don't make value added and are considered ineffective!!! Now I'm forced to literally teach to a test… I'm tired

  19. Tired Teacher October 1, 2012 at 12:52 am - Reply

    Already signed up for my anatomy class so I can go wipe rear ends for a living instead of of answering to rear ends (administrators, politicians) for a living.

    • Liz October 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      Well thanks for lumping us administrators in there with the bad guys. I spend my days doing everything I can to help support my wonderful, hard working teachers through this nightmare of hoops. I am a root of the problem by the government and media and a rear end by fellow educators for my efforts. Perhaps it is blanket judgments such as these that get us in to these messes.

  20. Chad September 30, 2012 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    A few weeks ago I had a dream: I was walking to school instead of driving. I was still about 4 miles out. And in front of me was a line of kids, all my students. They were waiting for the bus to take then to school. I, of course, had to walk. And even though I was making good time the bus was coming behind me to pick up the kids. My fear was the kids would make it to school before me, and they'd walk into a classroom that wasn't ready. I woke from that dream with my jaws hurting from being clinch so tightly. I strive to be the best educator and mentor I can be, and I'm exhausted.

    • @youngestmckenna October 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      I've had variations of this dream, too. I teach reading workshop to students in a remediation-level course, and I wake multiple times during the week to dreams about the most mundane of worries about daily classroom life–a testament to how deeply we internalize our care for and attention to the lives that depend on us every day.

      • Mary February 20, 2013 at 1:29 am - Reply

        Though many years retired now, I've had many a dream of being unprepared, or waking during the night struggling with how the particular needs of a child might be met, whether junior high or first grade level. Most of my career was at first grade level, and most rewarding, but I, too, could detect the odor of drugs on some of my students. Our state now has at the helm of the state department of education a dentist! She has staffed her department with people who know nothing about educating our children. We are living a nightmare~~a total disaster.

    • Anna February 20, 2013 at 9:32 am - Reply

      I've been retired from teaching for more than 11 years now, and I still have dreams, quite frequently, about school and the classroom. Things such as not having the test ready on time, not having all the papers graded on time, needing to leave the class to go to the restroom, etc., constitute most of the dreams. I taught for 34 years; I guess the impressions are permanent.

  21. Rachel Crabb September 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Until parents are held accountable too, we are chasing our tails…and I'm dog tired!

    • CBart October 3, 2012 at 3:55 am - Reply

      Some parents hold themselves accountable! Some Moms and Dads take their responsibilities to heart and are their kids' teachers, principals, nurses, guidance counselors, chauffeurs…. Some homes don't have cable TV and the parents actually expect their kids to read classics. Some parents are graduating their kids from high school with 4.0 GPAs and sending them on to college where they continue to be Honor Students and Presidential Scholars. Some kids are being trained in character development by their accountable parents. The problem is that those parents who are doing the best jobs are the ones who are even more tired than teachers like you. Why? Because we are doing everything you are doing, but we are doing it for several grades all at the same time. Because we have to fight school districts and superintendents and stupid laws to be "permitted" to be fully invested in our kids' lives. Because we have to "prove" ourselves above and beyond anything any teacher has to prove. Perhaps if people would get off the backs of the accountable parents, there would be more of us, and you wouldn't be so tired from chasing your proverbial tails.

      • VBurnett October 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm - Reply

        Sadly, the majority of parents are not going to be as responsible as you. It may be that what you perceive as administrators giving you a hard time is a result of their frustration about having more paperwork that they have to fill out and be accountable to the state for on behalf of a student whose progress they can’t monitor close up. It may also be that they have had experience with other students being pulled for home schooling or charter schools who turn out to be NOT successful and whose failures then rebound to reflect badly upon the home district. Sometimes, teachers and administrators are so surprised by a parent who Cares that they really don’t know how to respond! My husband has been teaching at risk kids for 13 years and was working as a job coach for local districts before that. This year he had his second parent in 15 years show up for meet the teacher night. This article is spot on and we need more parents like you to show others how much their children can achieve when mom and dad are invested in their success.

      • Alyssa October 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm - Reply

        SOME parents. Most parents are not investing in their children’s lives to that extent. Many parents do not have the luxury of time to be all of those things. Many outright neglect their children and expect public school to raise them.

        I am 23 now. I have two siblings. My mother is a Junior High teacher. I’ve seen her do both jobs, separately and simultaneously. I will tell you that HANDS DOWN teaching is the more difficult of the two.

      • Boni February 21, 2013 at 11:55 pm - Reply

        They're your kids!! What are you complaining about? You decided to reproduce and you sound like you want a prize for being involved. Give me a break.

    • Dog Tired Teacher October 4, 2012 at 1:09 am - Reply

      So true! There are parents who care, communicate with teachers and hold high expectations for their children. However, in many areas today, these parents are the minority, which is reflected in the attitudes of children.

    • Oswego Mom October 5, 2012 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Amen amen AMEN!!! PARENTS or LACK THEREOF!!!!! Until TEENAGERS stop PROCREATING and PROCREATING AND PROCREATING, flooding the schools with little headstarter kids who are so far behind with basic development that the Headstart programs will be busting at the seams, those same kids trickle UP into the system and start each grade off that much further BEHIND The curve! we will never win!!!!

      • English Teacher October 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm - Reply

        Some of the best parenting I have seen comes from teen parents. BAD parents are to blame. Parents working outside the home would not be a problem if they could earn enough outside the home to make the home stress-lite. We have a cultural problem that cannot be fixed by heaping shame on teenagers or poor people for having kids. Teenagers and poor people had kids before Head Start. The program wasn’t created for class project. We have a society now in which adults want to be perpetually 14 years old. Adults of all political persuasions, that is. That may make their lives more video-game filled and fun, but it doesn’t help their kids at all.

    • Teacher Girl October 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      We as educators have got to stop with the blame game. In large, I know the backgrounds of the children in my classroom. Right now, I have 25 1st grade students in a school that has 100% free and reduced lunch. 9 of my students speak a language other than English. 2 of which are being mainstreamed and 14 coming from single parent households. We are TIRED! Any teacher who is in the classroom is tired, but blaming the parents is only going to make you more tired. We need to begin to bridge the gap between parents and education. My first year of teaching 9 years ago-same school- I had 4 parents show up for open house, 4! This year my 9th, I had 23 parents show up. It is not about holding the parents accountable-that is unattainable- it is about continuously giving them the opportunity to become active participants in their child's education.

    • dannygam January 26, 2013 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      once we connect parents to their child's education, THEN things will change.

  22. bandify September 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    I feel that everyone who is complaining about teachers needs to step back and ask a simple question, “Could I do what they do?” If there answer is yes, try it for a day. At the end of the day, ask that same question again. I bet many people would then have a different answer.

    • Eaglegirl69 October 1, 2012 at 8:05 am - Reply

      Exactly!

    • gipp October 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm - Reply

      The problem with that is, most people think they CAN do what we do and almost none of them will ever try to do what we do. Thus, they will continue to complain about us and continue to think they know better.

    • Jennifer Anderson October 3, 2012 at 4:40 am - Reply

      Pointing fingers is pointing fingers. I say it’s the teachers, they say its me and that is why at the end of the day our children are still suffering. I do not teach in a public school, I teach my children in my home because the public education system was not providing for them. Bottom line it’s about our children and their future, until we realize that it won’t get any better. Parents and teachers have an equal responsibilty in a childs education.

      • Married to it October 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm - Reply

        Nonsense. My husband as a teacher is responsible for instructing his students in law, economics, and geography. Incidentally, he shows them how to be a responsible citizen, a wonderful father and husband, and an involved community member by virtue of how he conducts himself. That last bit is his decision. It is our (his and my) combined responsibility as parents to build character, virtues, kindness, work ethic, and whatever other aspects of their adult selves we want to see in our personal children when they become adults and believe me, it takes more than the 45 minutes a day each child spends with an individual teacher. Teachers are hired to teach. Expecting them to accept parental levels of responsibility is just another cop-out on a parent's part. Neither parenting or teaching is easy, but make no mistake – either parents take responsibility for the character and discipline of the child they send into school, or there's a classic computer programming outcome: garbage in, garbage out.

      • concerned citizen February 11, 2013 at 12:20 am - Reply

        Actually your statement couldn't be further from the truth. We do not have an equal responsibility. A child's education begins and ends with the parents. I once had a two friends sitting with me waiting for our children to be dismissed from school. One stated that she wished that they wouldn't make school so rigorous and would have more art and drama. Not two minutes later the other said that she wished the teacher would put more emphasis on reading and make things more rigorous. My reply to both was simply, provide those things yourself. Do art or drama at home or join a club. Do more reading at home. Teacher are facilitators of education, they can not possibly provide everything for each child. Parents need to teach their children as well and ensure that education is being reinforced at home.

  23. Holly Muenchow October 1, 2012 at 2:57 am - Reply

    The problem with American teachers and American educational system is POLITICIANS. The problem is easily. the. politicians.

    • former teacher October 2, 2012 at 11:42 am - Reply

      Read the article, Holly.

    • Dog Tired Teacher October 4, 2012 at 1:07 am - Reply

      AMEN!!

    • Roger C. October 10, 2012 at 1:53 am - Reply

      BUREAUCRATS, who know nothing about what teachers deal with in the classroom, and think eveyr classroom is like the privileged ones they went to school in.

    • Tina October 15, 2012 at 6:01 am - Reply

      I agree they are part of the problem, but the problem begin at home.

  24. Scout September 30, 2012 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    I am a member of the unfortunate entitled generation. Though high
    school is long behind me, the after effects of ill-teaching still plague me at points in my daily life. While I had the privilege of being taught by some truly extraordinary teachers, I had my fair share of abysmal ones. Fortunately I was able to buck up most of the time and take care of my own learning, except in the subject of math, in which I am nearly inept. As a teenager, I chose to focus on my social life more than my math abilities. My teachers did not try to teach me, encourage me to sleep, or even go to the library during classes I was failing. My parents, in the midst of a decade long bitter divorce, believed because I was smart they did not need to intervene, or even notice how poorly I was doing. I feel that if they had taken a more active step in my learning, I would not be where I am now. I, of course, would partially blame any person who is inept at their job, but I was the responsibility of my parents, and though they wouldn’t like to hear it, they are the ones who failed me, not the teachers.

    • Pam Hackbarth October 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” ~Albert Ellis

    • Kim October 8, 2012 at 1:47 am - Reply

      You just wrote my story, word for word. I am still learning the math I missed out on the first time around…and this time, I am asking the teachers where I work for help! 😉

    • ISS aide October 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm - Reply

      Yes your parents failed you. But rememer they are only human. How bad do YOU want to understand math principles? Teachers, good and bad, present the material (of course, the good present it in a way (or in multiple ways) that give students Aha moments of understanding. But it is the student's responsibility to learn. You may be out of formal school, but you should be thinking like a life long learner. When you take control of your education, YOU WILL LEARN! This is from a former teacher who chooses to work as a paraprofessional, because I can tutor students one at a time and look for that Aha look–if I don't see it, I try a different approach. I can do that as an In School Suspension teacher, but I had no time to do that when teaching 150 kids who did not want to be in school(not just my room).

    • KellyCzekanski October 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      Maybe they did …..and you weren't listening hard enough. 🙂 Teenagers have a difficult time hearing what "they don't want to hear". We have all had teachers that do not hold up their part and probably need to retire. You are not wrong to say that maybe they should have done more. However, maybe they thought that you were old enough to know to go to sleep earlier, study harder, concentrate on school and not your social life, etc. There has to be a time when we start letting students be accountable and responsible for their own lives and not be dependent on others.

      I am sorry that all happened to you. I have a few students whose parents are in the same situation you went through and it is devastating . Parents in the midst of their own delimna and drama struggle to put their children first and it hurts them more than they realize. But think of it this way…it helped to shape your mind as an adult. It taught you what you want and want you don't want in life. It gave you a unique perspective on the faucets of life that we whom never experienced that situation possess.

    • Kelly October 16, 2012 at 1:54 am - Reply

      Scout, do you know about the Kahn Academy tutorial videos online? I'm in my 50's, and grew up hating math. Since I've started watching the math videos, it isn't nearly as scary as it used to be. I decided that being afraid of math was just silly, and Kahn Academy is helping me get over it. My point is, there are all kinds of ways to get past educational obstacles if you are willing to look for them. My grandfather only had a fourth grade education ( he was a farm boy at the turn of the last century), but as an old man he knew more than many university professors. He read everything and he never lost his sense of curiosity. Hang in there. You are completely in charge of where you end up. Cheers.

    • L.O.R. October 16, 2012 at 3:14 am - Reply

      I'm a member of the same generation (a few years and degrees removed) and had a similar experience to you, Scout. I had a math teacher who only taught math one way and at the end of the year I had a D. Rather than blaming the math teacher or my parents, also going through divorce and remarriage (and a mom who was working three jobs to make ends meet), I met with my guidance counselor and got signed up for summer classes. Different teacher, different way of teaching, exact same material, and the second time around it made sense and I got it. With thirty students in just my class, and another three that she was teaching, I never expected my math teacher to hold my hand, especially since there were other students in the class failing out because they never showed up, and if they did, slept. I'm frustrated with my generation's lack of initiative. I'm with ISS Aide on this one.

    • Guest January 31, 2013 at 9:55 am - Reply

      And you didn't fail yourself because…

      You were a teenager. Not a child. You could have gone to the library. Did you really need someone to tell you to do that?

      Yes, your parents messed up. Yes, some of your teachers did too. But so did YOU. Take the accountability. That's one of the main problems with students today. They expect to not have to work and that, somehow, they will miraculously pass a class, and then blame their teacher or their parents when they fail.

    • Blacksnake January 31, 2013 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      I'm sorry, but this is pretty indicative of the "entitlement generation" which you admit to being a part of. The entitlement generation is a generation with a "not my fault" mindset. It all started when psychologists decided we could blame EVERYTHING we didn't like in our life on our parents while taking credit for anything good that happened.

      I'm one generation ahead of you. Here's my story: My parents didn't care about my school, but were more interested in letting me know that when I hit 18, I was on my own. My teachers were abysmal, and had clearly already given up. Classes consisted of them coming in, telling us to read something, and then they would head back to the break room and we wouldn't see them until the pattern repeated the following day. We didn't even get homework in most classes. Since this was in Kentucky, the closest thing we learned to any sort of skill was in the "Animal Husbandry" class where we learned to grow tobacco, cut tobacco, dry tobacco, house tobacco, strip tobacco, bale tobacco, and auction tobacco. Students had sex in the classroom closets, and openly smoked in the classrooms (which wasn't a big deal, as there were no teachers available). At one point, I had to actually teach my geometry teacher how to do proofs because she simply didn't know how, even with the teacher's version of the book in her hand. I very literally ended up teaching the BASIC programming class myself when our teacher was fired for sleeping with a student. I never went to college because my parents never had any intention of paying for it and coming out of high school and living on my own, I couldn't afford to.

      So forgive me if I don't sympathize with your plight. I knew what needed to be done, and I knew that setting myself up for failure would be my fault. Not my parent's. Not the teacher's. I began to self-teach, and ended up graduating in the top of my class in high school. I stayed away from drugs and alcohol because I saw what they did to my peers. Even though I've never attended college, I'm now a Software Systems Engineer with a top level security clearance making six figures a year, based on nothing more than my expertise and experience.

      For as long as you lean on the crutch that it's "someone else's fault" you won't be able to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and fix your own problems. NOBODY is capable of keeping ANYBODY ELSE down. No matter how hard they have it. My wife's upbringing makes mine look like a cakewalk, and she just started on her Master's at the age of 26. The only one that can keep you down is yourself.

      Interestingly enough, due to the abysmal teaching we received in Kentucky, my brother and sister went on to become teachers in an attempt to be better than what we had available to us. Both quit after 2 and 3 years respectively for all of the reasons listed in this article.

    • Noreen February 1, 2013 at 10:34 am - Reply

      You admit that you chose to focus on your social life more than your math abilities, but you feel justified in blaming your parents for your shortcomings. Grow up and take responsibility for your own decisions.

    • scienceTeach February 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm - Reply

      As hard as it is for some to understand, teenagers do not have it together and yes they still need to be told to do things. I have read some responses to your statements, Scout, and though it is up to you to decide to do for yourself, it is the responsibility of those closest to you to know that you need direction. I should have taken more difficult courses in high school, but because I did fine, A/B student, my parents didn't worry. I was second in line and they had to fight my sibling to achieve and not skip school. I did well because I wanted the respect of my teachers! I graduated in 1990. You cannot put the blame on a kid that doesn't understand choices and consequences. Off topic…You cannot explain the 'bad' of drugs and alcohol to a kid who has only experienced good or whose friends have. They need to speak to people their age who have these 'bad' experiences. Same for education…we had motivational speakers EVERY year in high school. It made a difference to me.

  25. susanmz October 1, 2012 at 5:06 am - Reply

    I teach at the college level, which is a whole different deal than teaching K-12, but back in the day, I taught 7th grade, and then I taught high school, and I wouldn't teach in middle school or high school again for under 1.5 million/year. Okay. Maybe I'd do it for 1.2 milliion–but no lunch duty,

    My hats off to you all who are still keeping at it, I don't know how you do it.

    • Brenda October 2, 2012 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      I bet you are a great teacher and you do know how they do it. I am retired and I still go back in to volunteer. I think teachers are born not made. That’s why with all the criticism we keep going back. I’m afraid it will only get worse with time. Hang in there, I really appreciate the work you are doing. ( I bet you were a “teacher’s kid)

    • Vpvank October 3, 2012 at 12:26 am - Reply

      Some call it combat pay……however I teach kindergarten which is it's own challenge for sure! I do agree for the amount of time we work…we are so under paid! Most who do not teach think that we have the summer off and life is good! However, I work every night of the week and at least 4-5 hours each weekend! Summers are spent planning for the next year just so you can be ready and not behind when the new school year starts! Most teachers work at least a 60 hour per week, many more than that! If I added all the hours that I worked beyond the contract and all the money I spend on materials for the class……I am sure my salary would increase by 25%. Teacher do not teach for the money…..and that's a fact!

    • @undefined October 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm - Reply

      I have been teaching 7th grade English for ten years, not my first profession, either. I love it. I love the chaos and uncertainty that is a middle school child. I have considered teaching at the collegiate level since I am qualified to, but there is something about what I do that keeps me here. Sure, I hate the politicians determining how and what we do, and some parents who "wave their white flags," but at the end of my day, when I have even one or two students making a point to say "good bye" to me as they run for the buses, I feel that I have made a small difference that day. Yes, I teach all objectives aligning with Common Core, but I also want my students to know that I am there for them: to say hello each morning, notice them in class, and to say good bye each afternoon.

  26. Eaglegirl69 October 1, 2012 at 5:32 am - Reply

    As a tenured teacher, I can vouch for what has been said above. We did not get this way overnight. Our country does not value the educational process, too many parents just don’t understand the importance of getting a good education for many reasons. They express this negative attitude and students start to believe it. Teachers are expected to educate the student but there are so many negative factors involved. If parents would send their child rested, clean, and fed to school every day, they would be able to focus on their education in a more positive manner. Many times the teacher is the only positive person in their lives and it is important for them to know that someone cares about them as a person and getting their education. Most business people could not handle running the classroom of students. I started young and when the students did behave as they should, but by the end of my 35 years in the classroom, I spent far more time on discipline of the students and illiterate parents that didn’t have a clue what their child did all day. Very few parents attend Open House or parent teacher conferences. They show no interest in the child’s education. One year I told my 10th grade class that their parents must show up for the Open House and meet the teachers or they would not get their grades and I had the best attendance that year. I even gave bonus points to students who parents showed up many years. We shouldn’t have to do that to get parents involved in their child’s education and future. Wake up parents!

    • JQMD October 5, 2012 at 1:57 am - Reply

      I surprised you didn't get in trouble for threatening to withhold their grades. The way parents are now – they probably showed up to tell you how they were going to turn you in to the administrators – rather than showing up to support their children in their education.

  27. […] read this excellent article from the Educator’s Room: “The American child has changed, and not necessarily for the better. Many shrill voices […]

  28. Linda LeBoutillier October 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Yes! This is why I am so glad that I was able to retire early. Ultimately, we are ALL responsible – all adults – for the mess we have created. Unfortunately, because of the way our Constitution is written, there is no ONE system of education in the US. There are fifty. The government has already ascertained via independent testing that test scores under NCLB have flatlined. I taught English as a Second Language, and I noticed that the immigrant and refugee parents did seem to value education more highly than American parents, but they were often hobbled by their inability to speak English. I cringed at some of the excuses I heard from the American parents when they were challenged to make changes in their home lives that would benefit their kids, such as turning off the TV for a given time so the kids could do their homework, making sure their kids didn’t eat too much sugar, etc. I was frustrated when parents refused to come in and talk to us when their kids were misbehaving in school. And I was exasperated when parents abruptly pulled their kids out of our school after we spent months getting them tested for special services. Many kids came in burdened by all kinds of problems at home. Some of these kids knew that when they got home after school, they would have to be light on their feet to avoid being slammed against the wall by a drunken parent, or they would probably find another rat under their bed. Some knew that there wasn’t anything to eat at home, or that they might have to help mom with her job cleaning the local movie theater at midnight. I no longer have to deal with these things, but they are still happening. I grieve.

  29. stephenpe October 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    If the powers that be would just let teachers teach children and do common sense evaluations while giving special needs children the "HELP" they need we could do so much better. You cannot raise the bar every year, add new mountains of paper work and not address outrageous student behavior and expect a world class product.

  30. The_Greatest_Teacher October 1, 2012 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    This article personifies the phrase "no good deed goes unpunished."

    I was a counselor at a psychiatric treatment facility for teenagers and we were constantly surrounded by all sides; Dept Of Corrections, the state, upper management, and our worst "threat" were the kids themselves. All it took was one kid to lie about abuse and that degree you spent years to acquire is now firewood. There's no place for sanity and goodwill in this corrupt system.

    No matter how much you do (for the kids or your employer), you're still thrown under the bus. It's a common tragedy that so many fantastic people (teachers especially) are shaped by nowadays.

  31. Lynne October 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    I hear what you're saying, I really do. I'm in education myself – both K-12 and higher education. I'm also a parent. But all this whining just makes me cringe. What kind of example are we sending? Rather than encourage our young new teachers to quit and send every other teacher running, why not use this platform to focus on the positives. There are so many jobs out there that are demanding and challenging. Is teaching hard? Yes. Is it challenging being held accountable for things out of our control? Yes…but I know of many professions like that. I really encourage you to shift your passion to encourage each other to embraces these challenges with a fresh outlook and opportunity for growth. We're all in this together, so let's show the world why teachers really are so special – because no matter how tough the going gets, we've willing to do whatever it takes to educate our children. We can no longer embrace the "woo is me" and expect to be respected in our professions.

    • John Kuhn October 2, 2012 at 1:42 am - Reply

      I went as a sheep to slaughter for many years in this profession. Things got progressively worse as pols and pundits pursued their aims. I have begun to speak out–many of us have. And honestly, there is now push back from parents, students, and educators who are willing to not whine but speak out.

      I understand your point. Acquiescence is no longer an option for me. My acquiescence and that of my colleagues earned an inheritance for my stidents that we call NCLB. Kids deserve better; they deserve someone standing up and calling things as they are, nevermind propriety.

      • Brenda Dunn October 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm - Reply

        "Is it challenging being held accountable for things out of our control?" It is ludicrous to be held responsible for things out of our control! This is the central, maddening issue! I am willing to do whatever it takes to help my students to succeed, I think about and plan for their individual academic and personal needs 'round the clock, 365 days a year. I don't resent that at all; I rather enjoy it. But the overabundance of paperwork am required to collect, analyze, and display to prove I am doing my job (from the federal government, state, district, and administrators) makes it impossible for me to actually do my job, which is primarily to teach children. I can't be successful. I can't say that everything that is asked of me has no merit,-much of it does, but I simply can't do it alone. I
        often wish I could hire an administrative assistant…

    • BeenhereDone that January 21, 2013 at 3:23 pm - Reply

      Let me guess Lynne. How long ago were you in a classroom? How long have you been a speech teacher, counselor, administrator, librarian, SBLC member, school phychologist, Sped coordinator, Central office staff member,……..? Have you ever taught Kindergarten, 2nd grade, 5th grade, 8th grade? Were you a P.E. teacher who became a beloved coach?
      Unless you have had to do all the paperwork,deal with interruptions, disipline problems, parental apathy, attend Staff Development meetings that have nothing to do with the problems teachers have in the classroom or have put in hours and hours of paperwork, planning, recording grades ON YOUR OFF TIME, please don't make "pie in the sky", "everything is beautiful" comments like that.

    • Burnt out January 22, 2013 at 11:51 pm - Reply

      Lynn my dear, you are a fucking idiot with apparently no life!!! I've been in this system 23 years!! I'm so burnt out after this year, I'm actually retiring!! I work my butt off day in & day out, for what??? To be criticized by the superiors above me, who by the way don't know their ass from a whole in the ground!! As a child growing up, the teacher was always right. I have 3 of my own, & that same message which applied to me applied to them as well! I raised my kids, not the teacher. I love the kids in my class, but believe me, I don't want anybody else's kid. My job is to teach & I do. However, I'm also a parent, a Dr., a dentist, and an assor, because all those higher idiots want is data. They could give a rat's twat about those kids. As long as their scores are raised, it's all good. Well, you're obviously pro young kids coming out of college & teaching…Sign them up where I work. My school is definitely short one teacher next year…… ME!!! It's a shame when one is so close to their full retirement, but says, to hell with it!!! Life is too short!! Happy teaching!!

  32. zeno October 1, 2012 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    We need to have more of this type of insightful writing disseminated to those who NEED to read it. So far, it seems we are all in agreement as teachers but we need to spread this message.

  33. Bret October 1, 2012 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    The only thing we can do is meet the kids where they are. At some point it is useless to play the blame game, and you just have to do what you can do to the best of your ability. I don't disagree with a word of this article, but if you let the tide roll over the breakwater, then you're finished. You can't do that. The kids are there, they're looking at you, and they expect . . . something. Anything. I love looking out at my class full of kiddos on the first day, and they're waiting. They're waiting to see what I'll do, what I'll say, and whether what they've heard about the class is true or not. It's a pregnant moment full of potential. If I bring the political and social baggage into the classroom, what do they see? Defeat? Probably. So I'd lose them right then and there. We have a good system in our education schools, the schools that teach the teachers. Somewhere we, as a profession, have lost track of that knowledge. Don't. Be proud, and meet the kids where they are, not where you wish they were if they only had . . .

    • Teechur October 2, 2012 at 1:58 am - Reply

      Said like someone who just doesn't get it. I don't think that most teachers carry this into their classrooms, but the facts are we are the main group held accountable for a myriad of issues that we have no control over. Yes, we can meet the kids where they are at and we can bring every one who attends regularly to some level of success. I believe that wholeheartedly. But when we are told that we must bring EVERY kid, regardless of their individual needs, handicaps (and I'm not talking physical or mental, but issues that hold them back from someone else's definition of success), and their abilities to the same level of success it's a no win situation.

      I know that I often have a desire to close my door and focus only on my students and shut out the rest of the world…meet them where they are at, bring them up to what I know they need…but the problem is if we do that we will never see change. We need to be politically involved. If Wisconsin didn't scare you the last two years, you haven't been paying attention. Instead of wagging a finger and bragging about how great you are, become part of the solution to long term change.

    • Retired teach October 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Here is a teacher who is still hopeful, optimistic and enthusiastic. When I read the reply I had to respond. Instead of congratulating Bret, the responder went onto to throw stones and accuse him of not "getting it". We teachers are often our own worst enemy…we turn on any colleague who seems to be happy and getting the job done. I taught in both surburban and urban schools. After a career of over 30 years I have to say that if the conditions been then what they are now, I would have never gone into teaching, or at least never stayed. That said, I was proud to be a teacher and loved my classes but I get it. I agree with alot of what was written and that may be the reality for many, but not all of us. Let us allow those whose experiences are a bit more positive to express that optimism. After all, if everyone leaves teaching, then what? We need a few exceptions to the rule…

    • Once a Teacher October 2, 2012 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks for a positive view of a dire situation, Bret. Every teacher has something to offer the kids no matter how bad things are on the outside. What you say, how you look, how you do things and your attitude about all of it is a learning experience for each child in your room. You can give them the best you can, for as long as you can. And when it becomes too much, you rest, you leave, or you retire.

      • IloveJaneAusten1 October 6, 2012 at 2:46 am - Reply

        You are spot on! I think all teachers know that kids pick up on everything about them. A teacher's demeanor is so very important. If you just drag yourself in every day and have no spark or enthusiasm, that's the kind of results you'll get from students. I am a music teacher in my 35th year of teaching. I have gotten to the point of being burned out, but I sought help and now have more energy than I know what to do with! When you can't give your best any more, "rest, leave or retire."

    • MusicTeacher October 3, 2012 at 5:06 am - Reply

      I agree with you, Bret. Excuses can be passed around to everyone and every outside entity. But the fact of the matter is that we can all make a difference in the way our profession is treated. We interact with an enormous number of people every year who have the potential to change the world. How we teach them character and exemplify what we teach will go miles in turning around the world.

      I personally have taught in 3 states, public and private schools, suburban and rural, (not urban, though.) What I have seen is enough to know that anyone can take any situation and turn it around. If you believe that you have reason to complain and deride others, then that will carry over into every facet of your life. Your students will know, your boss will know, your family will know, your students parents will know. If you want to be treated as a professional, be a professional.

      Yes, the work is hard. Yes, we do work that is underappreciated. No, we are not the only ones who do so, and we do not deserve more than we have earned. It is possible to NOT work extra time, to NOT spend your own money, to NOT take it out on your family, and to be a one-income family. My wife does not work outside the home – but she works as much or more than I do at my two jobs (teacher and head of my family.) I am proud to be a teacher, and the thrill of seeing a student grow in character is the best reward of all – although a few hundred dollars here and there wouldn’t go amiss.

      Despite the necessity to illuminate the public on the realities of our social situation, I still see a bunch of people complaining about the situation, and not very many people working to change it. Thank you Bret for your position. I stand by you.

  34. Mark H. Blodgett October 2, 2012 at 12:33 am - Reply

    I am the husband of a wonderful Sped teacher, and the step father of two great men who are also teachers, and their wives are also teachers. I could not be a teacher because I would handle recalcitrant children as I and all of my classmates were handled. We were taught respect for adults and our peers and we would be held accountable for our actions. What a concept, it should apply to everybody. Teaching is THE MOST IMPORTANT and one of the least respected professions in the country. Our teachers are trying to educated the future leaders of what was once the greatest nation on earth. If we are to be the greatest nation again we have to let the teachers do their job. Yes, we do have to make sure , with proper oversight, that a few teachers are not abusing the children and giving the profession a bad name. However when we dictate that all children have to be on the same level , we are living in a dreamland. Mankind is never going to be all "A" , "B" or otherwise graded students. We are all different and should receive an education to be the best that we can be at whatever level is appropiate for us.

  35. Gretchen October 2, 2012 at 3:01 am - Reply

    I must start out by saying that I am not a teacher. I wanted to be one at one point in my life but realized that it really wasn’t for me. My sister and in-laws are teachers and they put so much time, effort and energy into their job that it really takes it toll on them. I do think that the problem is a few different things. 1) kids are horrible now days!!!! (I have 2 very young children, I would die if they acted like most I see on a daily basis) 2) A lot of parents don’t care anymore and lastly, 3) teachers are expected to teach to Sped/inclusion kids, behavior problems and the rare kid that really wants to learn. How can one person do it?????

    I thank each and every one of you!

  36. TJ Burdick October 2, 2012 at 3:11 am - Reply

    Bravo. Extremely well stated and swelling with profound truth. Now, how to fix it?

  37. m wise October 2, 2012 at 12:09 am - Reply

    My first observation is almost every comment
    clapping and screaming “yeah” is or was a
    teacher.

    This is educators reply to being held accountable
    to do the job they are paid for. a job that they chose
    as a career. You are not forced to remain teaching.

    The truth is you protest changing as the world changes.
    You say thst you are worn out. There lies one
    of the problems – a worn out teacher cannot
    be an effective teacher . Sure some parents
    are to blame , families are not perfect, parents are
    not perfect . It’s disgusting that you think
    parents are to blame when you fail as an educator .

    The article speaks down to those children who get free breakfast.
    Those families who need that help.

    reading what educators really think is why there
    is a growing lack of respect and increased
    accountability for public school teachers.

    I hear public school teachers whine ” that isn’t fair “in response
    to the fact private or charter schools get to choose
    their own curriculum, or anything else they
    think “isn’t fair ”

    If you are do tired, change careers – it will save
    a child

    • John Kuhn October 2, 2012 at 10:43 am - Reply

      Come teach. Come show me how you can do what we are asked to do.

    • guest October 2, 2012 at 11:20 am - Reply

      I do not know what perspective you bring to the discussion, but you are very negative and also very WRONG! There is a problem that needs addressed and just saying teachers are whining and need to get a different job if they don't like it, is not going to help the children.

    • SeenItAll October 2, 2012 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      Your observation that many teachers are agreeing with the author should tell you that this story has merit.

      The fact that you don't want to hear it just proves the author's point.

      I am all about being held "accountable" as an educator. But I cannot be held accountable for factors beyond my control. When you send your child to school after having a night of absolutely no sleep because he was up with you playing video games all night or out on drug runs all night, your child is going to have difficulty grasping what I teach. When you send your child to school after your latest boyfriend sexually molested her last night, she is not going to be focused. When your child walks into my classroom crying because mommy and daddy are fighting over her again and last night the police were over at the house again, she won't be concentrating on her reading skills. When your son walks into my class high on Redbull
      and Snickers that you don't even know he bought on the way to school, his brain will be so strung out he won't be able to grasp the new concepts I am teaching. Oh and of course when he tells you that he did not do it even though the cans and candy wrappers fell out of his bookbag, you will just tell me that I am the problem because your child never lies.
      And the list goes on…
      The problem is that what was once a few children with "issues" has become an epidemic. And if teachers don't start telling this ugly truth, the problems will never change.

      I don't want to change careers. Just like the majority of other teachers in this country, I want to help my students. I want to fix the system and make things right. But we cannot do it alone. Please stop blaming us or telling us to get another career. Please start listening and believing. Please help us.

    • Jem2012 October 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm - Reply

      I am not a teacher, and I agree with everything here. I see teachers increasingly pointed to as scapegoats in this family. I come from the entitlement generation. As my friends begin having children, I see that entitlement translate to bad parenting. Even so many the ones with enough money and resources to ensure that their kids are healthy, well-fed, and have access to educational toys spoil their kids and don’t discipline or teach their children. Where we were previously entitled to good grades, good jobs, and good salaries, we are now entitled to a system that allows us to abdicate our parenting responsibilities. Is everyone like this? No. But then, not everyone who came out of the entitlement generation was, in fact, entitled. Teachers must spend their time dealing with the problem children whose parents refuse to parent, and parents who actually DO parent are rewarded by having to pick up the slack from overburdened teachers too. It is so glaringly obvious that parenting is the source of the problem, that I wonder why it’s even considered shocking to say so outloud.

      More than that, I worry about what will happen to the next generation, who will be parented by this failing one.

    • tenmoretogo October 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      You are an idiot!!

    • lkistler October 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      If teaching is so great, why didn't you join us a long time ago? Is it because it was too hard for you? How could it be too hard for YOU, but too easy for teachers (you know, the summer months off, the great working hours)?

      Fact is, most teachers work hours (UNPAID hours, grading papers) during their 9 months than you will during your 12 months with or without vacation.

      I don't know what your job is, so I have no way to judge whether or not you are good at it. I hope you'd extend the same courtesy to me and my teaching colleagues.

      Get the to a public school and substitute teach!

    • Trish B October 5, 2012 at 2:12 am - Reply

      You' re a complete jerk. Although we are tired and demoralized, we will continue to rise above the sewer ridden drivel that you and politicians on both sides of the continue to spew at us. There is no other professional that would tolerate the kind of treatment we receive from the likes of you. Millions of children will be taught by wonderful teachers this school year despite evil people like you and the two-faced politicians who want to lay the blame for a country spiraling out of control at the feet of teachers.

    • Cynthia Stone October 8, 2012 at 4:55 am - Reply

      I'd like to suggest that you take either an English course or a typing class. Your sentence structure and punctuation is below a 4th grade standard. I'm writing this at 12:40 a.m. I've spent the last 7 hours preparing for the coming week that will begin at 7:45 tomorrow morning. What do you do on a Sunday night? I'm not whining, I've always worked excessive hours, but until I started teaching, I was financially compensated for those hours.

      I regress, however, because you need information. It might be helpful for you to visit a few schools, spend some time in classrooms, talk with a variety of children and teachers. Look at the curriculum that business/government determined is appropriate for children, and how this knowledge acquisition is measured. The problem lies in the fact that decisions are made about children, while ignoring the most basic fact…true learning, the acquisition and application of knowledge, can only happen when the brain is ready for the experience that develops the knowledge. Unfortunately for the child, their brains don't really develop in a fashion that is convenient for test writers/software vendors or politicians.

      Take a careful look at the success rate of charter/private schools compared to public schools that share a common student demographic. Lastly, if you honestly think you can do any better, go get the education needed, pass the licensing tests, and give it a try. I don't think you'd last 2 years.

      • Kimberly October 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm - Reply

        Best response yet! These poor children are not develpmentally ready for what is being thrown at them. Then teachers are supposed to remediate what they don't already have, provide prior knowledge that only students from wealthy families provide, and try to teach them the curriculum that they are not ready for in the first place! It is too much for the students, much less the teachers.

    • debbieg October 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      I am a single mom of four kids (not by design, but through devastation), and I am a middle school teacher in very 'needy' district. Sometimes it is all I can do to stay awake when I get home, but must keep going for my own children. I have been told that I have a great attitude, I am strong, I am driven, but truthfully…I have questioned myself and whether or not I can continue in this profession any longer. It is so hard; the stress often times feels insurmountable. I have a part time job and never have I ever take a "summer off". I teach because I love, love, love the purest part of my job…time spent in the classroom teaching my students; however, the pressures of making sure all their individual needs are met, that they pass the infamous test, and that they remain HAPPY is all consuming. We have forgotten the role of teacher and have been granted the role of disciplinarian, care giver, counselor, time manager, the list is endless…and then "teacher".

      • debbie g October 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm - Reply

        I have worked long enough to know the students whose parents are involved in their lives; you pick them out in the classroom. They do well, pay attention, look taken care of… excel.
        Why can't administrators, statesmen, and the Governor…the President understand this also? It is just easier to blame the teachers. My children are straight A's… all of them. I make sure that they do their homework, projects get done, and that they have responsibilities around the house. I have to say, your negative comments were so not respectful and unwarranted.

      • Kimberly October 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm - Reply

        This is my debate. Can I truly parent my children and do this job? I have a special needs son who has learning disabilities. By the time I get home, I'm lucky to spend an hour with him and I really don't want that hour to be doing homework that he hates. I feel like as a teacher I have turned into one of "those" parents who expect the schools to do everything for their child because I work too much to do it. What does that say about our society?

    • GUEST October 16, 2012 at 12:15 am - Reply

      How many people get to call you out about your job performance?!?! QUIT BEING A CYBER BULLY AND THINK BEFORE YOU TYPE!!!!!!!!!!

    • Guest October 22, 2012 at 3:30 am - Reply

      What would you do if you had a child in a class of 24 kindergartners throw tantrums and kick at you every time you said no to him in class. I bet you would say send him to the principal. What if your job hung on the line for how many referrals you had in one month. Call the parent. The parent says that he is my problem while he is at school. What about the other 23. Who is at fault now? Who is accountable? Why didn't the other 23 ace the tests? The problem with public education is the public. Don't pin it back on the teacher.

    • Guest February 19, 2013 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      ok- great idea! I think I will look into changing careers since I am tired. As for saving a child- no, I don't think that will ever happen with they way society and parenting is happening these days- the kids will suffer with or without me…

    • M.R. February 19, 2013 at 10:21 pm - Reply

      You are obviously not a teacher. We aren't whining! I think that many of repliers are just pointing out that teaching is really the only profession that I know of that you can approach someone without an appointment and it doesn't really matter what is said…because your the parent. I am a parent of two and have been teaching for over 19 years…I truly love my job and my students, but I would never talk to a teacher in the manner that many parents do today. Teachers are just asking for support from the parents! Approximately 99% of teachers put children first, even before their own family, by spending many hours outside of the school day planning, grading, and spending their own money to cover the cost of supplies that are needed within the classroom, but not covered by the school. In return, we ask parents read with their children nightly, to be a role model themselves of character, and support their child's interest by becoming involved in their child's education. Personally, I don't think that is too much to ask.

    • @GaleWilliams February 19, 2013 at 10:53 pm - Reply

      I have a reply for you but it is not printable. Apparently you did not read the article.

  38. guest October 2, 2012 at 4:22 am - Reply

    This makes me so very sad. I am a principal and have the pleasure of working with some of the most dedicated and hard woRking teachers I could ever dream of. They put in many many hours beyond the school day. They step up and volunteer to work on special projects designed to enhance a child’s life and help their parent increase their involvement at school. I am blessed to work with these wonderful people. Life is very different then when me and my siblings went to school. We respected the teachers and principal. My mother would never have thought to call the school and challenge what the teacher or principal was reporting or was concerned about. I grew up in a family that struggled financially but I am successful because I spent time doing things like reading and gong to the library. We ate dinner together and took care of one another. While my mother, a single parent worked. I, as the oldest girl was responsible to watch my sisters. It was what it was. — family taking. care of family. These things just are not the norm anymore. —- we did not expect handouts — we all,worked to help out. Teachers are not the issue. They do all that they can. — families need to take a step back and think. — is this the best I can do as a parent– and how canI do better. It is all about the kids. — and it is all about making it a team effort.

  39. […] In The Exhaustion of the American Teacher, John Kuhn argues for a counter view of the problem, counter than the view that pins it all on the perceived incompetence of teachers (forgive me while I quote the first three paragraphs, but I want you to get a sense of how Kuhn contextualizes his argument): “With the 2012-2013 American school year still in its infancy, it’s worthwhile to note that the people doing the actual educating are down in the dumps. Many feel more beaten down this year than last. Some are walking into their classrooms unsure if this is still the job for them. Their hearts ache with a quiet anguish that’s peculiarly theirs. They’ve accumulated invisible scars from years of trying to educate the increasingly hobbled American child effectively enough that his international test scores will rival those of children flourishing in wealthy, socially-advanced Scandinavian nations and even wealthier Asian city-states where tiger moms value education like American parents value fast food and reality TV. […]

  40. ayearinskirts October 2, 2012 at 6:32 am - Reply

    Asian parents haven't dropped the ball. That's why those schools do well and teachers enjoy teaching at schools with lots of Asian kids.

    • anothertiredteacher October 5, 2012 at 4:47 am - Reply

      Why doesn’t anyone ever point out that ALL American children are allowed to complete 12 years of school. This is not the case in many Asian countries. Asian children are tested and placed in programs that match their ability. It is not fair to compare their standardized test scores to those of American students because our scores are based on all students being tested while Asian scores are based on just the top students being tested. I have had Asian foreign exchange students in my AP Calculus class and when I compare their scores to their equals (my American educated students) they do not perform any better. What I do notice is that they have a work ethic and a fear of failure that American students don’t have. Asian students understand that there are no second chances, if they don’t perform well, they will not have any opportunity to be considered a success in their country.

      • Tabitha October 9, 2012 at 5:12 am - Reply

        Excellent point. I lived in Germany and at about 6th grade you are sent to college prep (Gymnasium) or a trade school if you weren’t a student who would succeed at university. It drives me nuts to read about other countries knowing we are comparing apples and oranges in many areas.

        I realize that’s a tangential issue. My mother teaches bilingual 3rd grade and it’s infuriating to hear some of what she deals with. I don’t understand parents who don’t even check the backpack ever. My mom has to call the parents-hopefully the number is still good-to try to engage the parents. Her job is dependent in all kids passing the test even when they enter her class with a kindergarten to 1st grade reading level or if they have severe learning challenges (mental retardation, Autism, dyslexia). Every year she has had a student who was sexually violated and many more are struggling with an ugly divorce, dad walking out, or domestic violence. Several of her students only eat at school and I understand from the English only teachers that they have more kids who only eat at school.

        It is not just “the teachers”. I see teachers busting their butts, usually despite outrageous administrations, because they want “their kids” to succeed. What stinks is Mom has been able to get her kids to pass (usually 94% or better) and she is still assumed an idiot by the new principal. (Last principal was inspirational but moved up to a district level position. Sigh. )

  41. Veteran educator October 2, 2012 at 7:17 am - Reply

    I have been an educator since 1974 and have watched the transformation. The article states the truth that no one wants to say out-loud. Poor parenting is the root of the problems in schools today. Children today are not coming to school ready-to-learn. A poor family diet, indulged children, unstructured home environment, chaotic family schedule, and exposure to inappropriate media are problems for developing children. A teacher cannot undo the accumulative damage for twenty or thirty young children in one classroom. Poor parenting during a child's early years is a national disgrace.

    • Mala March 5, 2013 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      I would go one step further. Teachers are trying to meet demands for the neglected children and the helicopter parents. I have had parents challenge the assignments in my classroom on a regular basis. Their child is disrespectful and rude to me because his parent is. If they feel my assignments are "busy work" they tell their child not to complete them and then complain to the school that I'm a bad teacher. In the meantime, I'm trying to reign in the kids whose parents really don't care and aren't paying any attention. It seems as if so many kids come from extremes anymore.

  42. hermes bags October 2, 2012 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Great piece of information! May I reference part of this on my blog if I post a backlink to this webpage? Thanks.

  43. SeenItAll October 2, 2012 at 11:50 am - Reply

    Amen. For the majority of my students, the only time they are shown love or respect is when they walk through my school's doors. When I see and hear their life stories, it is a miracle to me that they learn anything at all. Children are not resilient.

    Thank you for writing this. While most people who are not teachers will not take the time to understand it, you will reach some.

    We need to keep talking and telling our stories until people start listening.

  44. Veteran educator October 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    I have been an educator since 1974 and have watched the transformation. The article states the truth that no one wants to say out-loud. Poor parenting is the root of the problems in schools today. Children today are not coming to school ready-to-learn. Poor family diets, indulged children, unstructured home environment, chaotic family schedule, and exposure to inappropriate media are problems for developing children. Here are examples:
    1. Kindergarten children arrive at school with a pop-tart in their hand as breakfast. If the child was fed unsweetened cereal with milk, whole wheat toast with low-fat peanut butter, and a glass of real OJ (not sunny D), the child would have the nourishment required to learn. Sugary, processed pastries like pop-tarts spike the sugar in the child, then later in the morning the child has a carb slump.
    2. Children do not have small motor strength required to cut with scissors or hold a pencil to write. The same child races out the school door at the day's end to the waiting parent who yells "hurry up" as the child approaches the waiting car. The parent makes a stop through the fast-food lane prior to rushing the child to soccer practice, followed by dance lessons, and another trip through the fast-food lane on the way home at 6 PM. The child arrives home exhausted without the proper nourishment and stamina to do homework properly. The child does homework without parental assistance while the parent is on the phone, texting, emailing, talking to their friends about how bad the teacher is. American parents' priorities are out of order. The child is a 'trophy', not a 'work in progress'.
    3. American children are needy and hungry for their parents' attention, for unconditional love, and for the time required to mold a confident, bright child. These are not problems with families of lower economic means. This is occurring across all economic levels.
    American parents are not on-duty and it is a national disgrace.

    • Kimberly October 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      I like the "trophy" not a "work in progress" comment. Even our best parents are falling into this trap. I have 3rd graders who can't read for 10 minutes at night because of all the activities that their siblings and they are involved with each night.

  45. wizzlewolf October 2, 2012 at 8:21 am - Reply

    BRAVO! I totally agree with everything mentioned here. Sadly, I quit teaching this year for all of the reasons you state. I was an excellent teacher. I was one of those who came home at night and worked more hours creating lessons and writing grants. However, I got too tired not from all the work, but from the constant feeling that I was BAD. I hated telling people I was a teacher. I decided it was time to get off the hamster wheel. It is like a no win situation. Supposedly, teachers are never good enough. I miss teaching, but I don't want to be in a profession that is constantly belittled and trashed on a daily basis. The whole system is a mess. 🙁

    • Joules Newton October 5, 2012 at 4:13 am - Reply

      ME TOO!

      • tootired January 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm - Reply

        I am working my butt off to get off this "hamster wheel". I think I could push through but not when I have a principal bashing my every move. The same principal who has never step foot in my classroom.

  46. K Goetz October 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    This is a wonderful article! It should be required reading for all Americans. Love the part about the "benefit collecting retires who vote down all levies."

  47. ginib October 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    This is the very first time I've seen someone actually say out loud the things we, as teachers, have known for years! I used to love teaching, now I'm doing everything I can to stay out of the classroom. So, so, so sad, but dead on accurate! You can't legislate parents or children, so we continue to legislate teachers.

  48. Christine S. October 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    I have four kids in school — one elementary, one middle, two high schoolrs. My oldest is severely disabled. I stay at home full time as a result and volunteer at various things at my children's schools weekly. The teachers are fantastic!! They work so hard with and for the kids supporting their academics as well as emotional growth. The rigor isn't as high as the previous state we were in, but then again they aren't teaching venn diagrams in pre-k. We all know how dependent four year-olds are are to THAT concept. I think all the teachers who are tired of it should retire because I want my kids to hav excellent teachers who are enthusiastic about their subject and enjoy seeing our kids–even the troubled youth–get it. Because they are. And yes, my kids all go to public school.

    • Lynne October 3, 2012 at 3:27 am - Reply

      Christine, it's wonderful that you and your children have had great experiences in your school system. Just keep in mind that you are one person – one family – and your experience doesn't necessarily represent the majority.

    • Lisa October 13, 2012 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      The thing that you do not see is that those teachers that you speak so highly of, if you were not a parent, would tell you this is exactly how they feel! We still go in every single day and perform at an outstanding level, even though we feel this way. We fight, and fight, FOR THE KIDS, and feel this way in what little free tim ethat we have. All of you that tell us to QUIT, seem to forget that is against everything that we believe in and instill in our students. If you get what you want, which you very well may, good luck with what you have left. I have seen the GOOD teachers dropping like flies. The ones that really dont care, and fell back on this occupation due to the economy, or inability to use their initial degree, will do wonders for you. They have no problems satisfying the paperwork, government, teaching to the test woes, because that is all that they do. They are not teaching your students ANYTHING else. They do not care if your student grasps anything other than testing knowledge to get them through it. They are not teaching morals, work ethic, respect, or how to survive in the real world skills that are desperately needed by this generation because the parents sure are not around to do it. (you are in a very small % of people that are able to be at home and who take any interest what so ever in your childs education) I go an entire school year without ever meeting parents. I spend three times as much time with their child, and they cannot invest 15 minutes to come and meet with me. Good luck with you “back-up teachers” I hope that they work out better than the NFL back-up refs did. This job can be done at the level being expected if the teacher does not take the time to CARE about your child. They can be filed through like the welfare lines that they will be experiencing in a few short years. What needs to happen is people that cannot afford children need to STOP HAVING THEM! If you cant feed them, or spend time nurturing them, “insert light-bulb” stop reproducing!! Think about the poor child that has to suffer from your poor decision making. That is who I think about- day, night, 365 days a year!

  49. Erin October 2, 2012 at 11:25 am - Reply

    I know of many incompetent teachers, who work 3/4 of the year and 6 hr days. Step into the private sector, then you'll get a taste of reality.

    • Sean October 2, 2012 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      There are many incompetent people in every profession out there, including those in the private sector: doctors, plumbers, automobile repair techs, engineers, cashiers, etc. who get away with doing as little work as possible. That's the 'reality' that I live in. If you happen to work in a rare field which is different, I'd really like to hear about it.

      Let's stop defining entire professions by their worst workers.

    • Steve October 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      I worked in the private sector for 5 years and took a pay cut to switch to teaching. I’ve taught for the last 16 years.

      Teaching is harder. Sorry, but it’s true. I can’t turn away clients. I often don’t know anything about their personal histories. I have to educate and mentor them, often on my own time.

      When I worked in an accounting office, a lot of people took long lunches or fooled around on their computers. They didn’t get fired either. By Friday, they had lifeless eyes and a desire to escape the horrid repetitive nature of the job.

      Teachers work as many hours as anyone. And have a huge emotional factor. If it’s the heaven you describe, do what I did. Quit your really difficult, slaving office job and join the ranks of teachers. Bet you couldn’t last a year.

    • Tired Teacher October 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      I worked in the "private sector" for 18 years before I switched careers to become a teacher. You are clueless if you think teachers only work 6 hour days and 3/4 of the years. Yes, that is all we get PAID for, but we work many, many, many, more hours on our own time, "off the clock", without pay. We have to, otherwise your child would not have graded papers, extra-cirrucular activities, or any of the extra things we do in our classroom. We bring work home and plan lessons every night, for hours! We grade papers on the weekend, while you are sitting in front of the TV watching, or shopping, or spending time with your family. During our summer "vacation" we go to seminars, professional development, take classes, and organize files for the next school year (without extra pay) or "over time" pay. so Erin, you definitely need a taste of reality!!!!!!!!

    • guest October 4, 2012 at 11:59 am - Reply

      I work an average of 9 hours a day. That's the point of the article I think. Ignorance and lack of respect.

    • TXteacher October 5, 2012 at 4:41 am - Reply

      I am a teacher…my school hours are 7:15-4:00 and until 4:30 once a week for tutoring. Please let me know where I can find a 6 hour/day teaching job!! By the way, I was a computer analyst in the private sector before entering the world of education. Teaching is the hardest job I've ever had…by far.

    • Guest October 12, 2012 at 2:48 am - Reply

      You are so very ignorant.

    • Kelly October 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm - Reply

      I'm sorry your teacher friends are incompetent – it does reflect on your character and who you choose to socialize with. I would love to work in the private sector like my husband and many friends…free hour long lunches and dinner (with alcohol), in-house celebrations for minor achievements, staff holiday extravaganzas, the freedom to call in and state that you are going to stay home with your sick child, evening and weekend free duties, not wondering if one of your colleagues is going to see something they shouldn't see while they are at home, or wondering if they are going home to safe environment. I could keep going, but, I have phone calls to make on student progress and lessons to plan for – and yes, it is Sunday, and yes, I am not paid for this, and yes, I am tired.

    • Jeff in MA October 15, 2012 at 4:29 am - Reply

      Like others who have replied to your comment, I worked in the private sector before becoming a teacher. I worked as a research scientist for a biotech company for five years, and then for several software startups for eight years. I have been teaching for ten years.

      Much of the work for teaching happens outside the classroom. In a typical day, I have to have two different 50-minute physics lectures prepared, one for my honors classes and one for my standard level classes. I need to deliver the honors physics lecture twice and the standard physics lecture three times. The school gives me one 50-minute period during the day to use however I want, including planning these daily lectures, preparing, printing and copying assignments, and grading. Of course, 50 minutes per day is not nearly enough time to get each day's work done, so I spend a couple of hours at home every night preparing, grading, etc.

      For each lecture, I prepare a set of class notes, which I hand out to my students. I give the lecture, go over example problems, and give them homework problems that I have also created. Some days they do lab experiments, which I have either created or modified from experiments I found on the internet. All in all, I have probably researched and written 500 pages of documents for physics, 500 for first-year chemistry, 500 for second-year chemistry (including AP), and another 200 for organic chemistry, and I have probably delivered close to 1000 unique 50-minute lectures over ten years. This is typical of what most teachers have to do, and from my personal experience, it is more work than I had to do in either the biotech or software industries.

      I have found two major differences between teaching and working for startups. One is that with teaching, the work follows me home. When I worked in industry, when I left the office, I was off duty, and didn't need to worry about work again until the next work day.

      The other is that in industry, I could ask for the resources I needed in order to do my job. If I didn't have the resources to do what was required of me, I could ask my boss to allocate additional resources, give me additional time, or reduce the scope of the task. As long as my boss agreed that the original task was not possible with the resources given, appropriate changes would be made. In education, there are no more resources, and we can neither allocate additional time nor reduce the scope of the task. Moreover, we are required by law to do more than there is time for. Every teacher and every administrator knows this (and is in the same situation), but we can't talk about it, because that would mean admitting that we're not meeting the requirements. So we're essentially stuck doing 75% of what we're required to do, and hoping that our 75% is the same 75% that the administrators honestly expect.

      Yes, we do get two months off during the summer, but remember that teachers' salaries are based on ten months of employment, not twelve, so summers are actually unpaid leave. (And even after correcting for the two-month difference in work hours, I still make substantially less as a teacher than I made as an engineer for the same ten-month period.) Of course, I also spend a bunch of time during the summer editing lectures, lecture notes and assignments for the following year, going to conferences, and taking required professional development classes.

      So I would say, "Step into the classroom and you'll get a dose of reality."

    • TS214 October 18, 2012 at 2:37 am - Reply

      Last time I checked, I worked for 10 months. That is not 3/4 of 12. Did you miss that day in Math class?

    • JBells January 21, 2013 at 4:01 pm - Reply

      I've taught elementary school and now work in the private sector again. And Erin, I get it. I've heard this so many times. And there are teachers who are 'paycheckers', just like any profession – I've seen a few that horrify me in my dreams. That being said, teaching was by far the hardest work I've ever done and differs from the private sector for these reasons:

      1. It's loud. Put 30 kids in the same room who are just loud, and after a few hours you get misty for your old cubicle of solitude.
      2. It's sticky and dirty – seriously, I was CONSTANTLY aware of how gross my classroom was! But, grade the papers after school or clean? Gotta grade…and try and find a kid who understands what clean means to help you.
      3. Lunch. I got 15 minutes when teaching. Now, 30 minutes feels luxurious!
      4. When I leave work, I really just do that…leave. Leave it all behind if I want. Even though sometimes I work from home, when I close that computer, it's over for the day. Teaching? You're NEVER done. There is always lessons to plan, tests to grade, materials to look for, fun hands-on science labs to create or find. Not to mention the paperwork involved! I was always thinking about the kids – just ask my friends and family who went to Target with me.

      And, my absolute, all-time favorite thing about not teaching in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD:

      I can go to the bathroom WHENEVER I WANT!!!

  50. Can't say October 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    I like the way we are "educating the future leaders" but are expected to take either a pay cut or pay freeze…and not for one year but two! I start at 6:30 and don't leave until 5 and I still get complaints from some parents that their child needs a one on one reading…what about the other special needs students in my room? My husband makes more than me and I have a masters degree with endorsements that I'm still paying for after years of teaching.

  51. Nancy October 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Teachers are people too!

  52. The Educator’s Room | Hamill Time October 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    […] this article posted on Facebook by one of my friends and I’m a bit […]

    • Vpvank October 3, 2012 at 12:21 am - Reply

      I have been teaching for 27 years and LOVE IT! I agree with the retired educator who said…Teachers are born to teach! Every time one more thing is added or changed……I must practice my yoga breathing to keep from getting all stressed out and joining the complainers around the lunch table. I am of the philosophy that you do your best until you no longer can….when you are complaining more than you are happy you have reached the end of the trail………………………..unless you can step back and put it all into a framework of: I will do what I can today and continue the quest tomorrow. We all need to work hard, get enough rest and have an outlet for healthy release. I plan to teach until it no longer makes my heart sing…………………………….my thought is to DO NO HARM…once I am no longer excited to do what I do and feel that I am not making a difference…then and only then will I hang up my teaching hat!

      • Judi October 5, 2012 at 3:35 am - Reply

        Can we clone you, please?!?!!

    • In the trenches October 3, 2012 at 1:14 am - Reply

      I for one applaud the article. I know I am tired. I am tired of parents who tell me the student is my problem during the day. The child who can’t or won’t sit and listen, be nice, etc. I am tired of the coddling that goes on. I am tired of meetings where we are told what to teach and when and by God we better not stray from that schedule. However, we are also told to reteach the concepts they don’t understand, for whatever reason. Okay, so to do that I must stray from the schedule. Oh well, I can just skip it right? NO! I am tired of being told what I must wear to school, but a dress code cannot be enforced on students? I am not saying I don’t want to look professional, I am saying I am an adult and I can pick my own wardrobe. Those that can’t should be addressed individually. I am tired of tests after tests. It gets so bad that at my school the kids have scantrons, benchmarks, state assessments, and DBQ’s all in the span of 8 weeks. I can’t even book a computer lab during that time to work on research with my students. So…how am I supposed to integrate technology when I have one outdated laptop, an old elmo, and nothing else? Yes, my school is antiquated. I can create all types of KAGAN structures, I can create my own videos, powerpoints, etc. I can rely on the old tried and true, but I get no respect for what I do or create. I am expected to do a job without adequate tools. Would you want a surgeon operating on you with equipment from 50 years ago?? That is how I feel. I don’t need technology to teach, however, we now have a generation of students that can’t seem to do anything without it. I would love to do wax museums, mummify a chicken, bring in speakers and re-enactors, but there is no money. NONE!! If it doesn’t fit the curriculum exactly, but might peak their interest, forget it, not allowed. Even if there was money. Don’t even get me started on the salary. I knew I would never be rich teaching, didn’t want to be. I work a second job, have a family, and work late each night on school stuff just to stay afloat. Okay, I am done venting. Not trying to start anything, just saying….Until you walk in my shoes, feel my heartache when a child I try to help is thrown in jail, transferred for the 3rd time due to parental problems, or wear yourself out trying to modify the Constitution for a child who is basically 6, don’t judge please.

      • Patty Latham October 4, 2012 at 9:10 am - Reply

        This is my 15th year of teaching and I am exhausted, but I wouldn’t want another kind of job. When I see a light bulb come on above 1 student’s head my year is made. I prefer that it happens a lot more, and sometimes it does, but that one light might be over the head of the next great president. If your heart is in the right place for doing what you can do for these children all will be ok. These children need to be taught the passion for learning however direction that is made. Some love math, some reading, some both, some through art, music, and dance. Give these students an opportunity to grab that passion. Testing, testing, testing is one way to bury that passion. Testing is the only way the government, state or federal can collect “data” that then can be used to give or take away funds they dangle as carrots on a stick.
        One big change in the wind is the type of evaluations that teachers are moving towards. Rather then “you did a good job or not” evaluation, the new ones list, and explain the strategies that work in a spectrum manner. It is teaching the teachers best practices for helping students become more successful. It is a guiding tool if used properly. There are teachers that need to go. They lost the passion of teaching long ago or never had it. A certain amount of culling needs to occur, but it is most certainly not the majority. Many teachers just need support and supplies, and smaller classrooms. Plain and simple. Take those billions being spent elsewhere, ie wars, and put it into education and you will get a better student body.
        One last note. Parents of newborns to 5 years old need an education as well!! Especially parents of generational poverty. They need to be taught how to parent children at the most vulnerable age. Instead of slapping a child’s hand for touching that eggplant on the grocery shelf, they should explain what it is , what color it is, how much it costs, etc, etc etc. Even if the child is 1 or 5. A parent has to communicate using as many words as possible. Inexperienced parents need educating as well.

        • rob May 13, 2013 at 5:51 pm - Reply

          I have to disagree with you final point. As I see it after 12 years of teaching, the reason the educational system is so spent (including the teachers) is Because it caters to students and parents. To be clear, the reason they built the system was because of the subjects, the ideas, not to make kids and parents feel good about it.

          The responsiblity of a child’s education should be placed at the feet of the parent. If as you say, “inexperienced” parents need an education as well, then too bad. An education on personal responsibity perhaps, but this could be done early in the process. If for example a child is not interested, or disruptive, send them home. Tell the parent that this notion of a right to an education is true, so go ahead and educate away parent.

          I sense, well know, that many might be wondering if this style would work. Let me just say that if I could cancel public education all together I would. It has become a system of entitlement.

          Many might say that this would send countless people into the void, without hope. To be sure it would, it would send the weakests minded losers into a space they may never escape. Yes, I would fully agree and revel in teaching kids who care. This would also make it possible to cut the “poverty-industry” side of education too, as well as all those “planners” of tests, curriculum etc.

          On a final note, if you think teaching is draining you, get out, because it is, and it’s by design fools.

  53. Ed Komperda October 2, 2012 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    Generally, teachers aren’t fighters. Abuse is hurled their way and they smile, take it, and come back for more. 🙁

  54. Suzanne October 3, 2012 at 12:55 am - Reply

    Thank-you. Truly.

  55. JM October 3, 2012 at 12:57 am - Reply

    Some key points:
    1. To those that said to get a different job: We are not complaining about what we do. We know what we signed up for. We just didn’t sign up to be blamed for the fact that students are failing because of the choices they and some parents make. These are societal issues that we all need to take ownership of.
    2. Like it has been said, teachers are people. We want to be respected. Most teachers I know could accept the difficulties of the job if there was a level of respect for the fact that we have worked really hard to be where we are at. Nobody can imagine the depth of the job unless you have done it.

    • Leah October 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      I completely agree. I signed up to write lesson plans, make PowerPoints, create tests, grade papers, teach all day, supervise group activities, etc. I did not sign up to be cursed out for no reason, to be constantly interrupted, or to be the scapegoat for behavior that stems mostly from neglectful or abusive parenting.

  56. buff October 3, 2012 at 2:03 am - Reply

    I read every comment posted so far, and I read some great and very true things that came from teachers. Some of the comments are from people who HAVE NO CLUE what we teachers do. I can guarantee those people wouldn’t last a week in a classroom. The kids would eat them alive. It was never mentioned but also add to the list of what teachers do for their students, use money out of OUR OWN pocket to fund the things that help us teach and entertain our students. I know as a science teacher that alot of our students learn better by “doing”. I haven’t had a science budget in 5 years (let alone a pay raise, cost of living raise, even though my insurance rates have gone up) To do the “activities” I know my studnets will learn best with, I put out money that should otherwise be spent on MY 3 children at home. I won’t complain about it though because I LOVE teaching. What I WILL complain about is how my job is put on the line because of that ‘Jack-o-lope” in my classroom who is truant most of the time, talks when I’m talking, disrrupting all those around him, parents that DON’T show for conferences, open house or anything else, don’t care about grades and excuse thier childs behavior, and I am BLAMED for why it is they DON”T do well on the State test!!!!!! WOW REALLY Teachers in Chicago had it right!!! GOOD FOR THEM!!!! PARENTS AND CHILDREN need to be held accountable for thier learning, NOT JUST TEACHERS

  57. Kathy October 3, 2012 at 2:04 am - Reply

    I have taught for 18 years. This year might be my last. Rigor is up, Data is up, PLCs are meeting, IEP meetings, DI trainings, Grade level meetings, Tests and more tests to collect the data. When do we get to teach? They have now cut 5 weeks out of our teaching by setting the Standards tests at the beginning of May when school is not out until mid June. They (the administrations, school boards, state DOEs, state representatives, and federal government with all of their requirements) have made sure that we will not be successful. I am tired. I work from 8 am until 10 to 11 every night. We cant afford text books so I have to engage my students by developing my own activities. No you can’t see the test because you might say hey I could teach this differently and they would learn it. It is like they want you to fail. I AM FINISHED!

    • Jackie October 4, 2012 at 2:23 am - Reply

      Our state tests are in mid-MARCH. So we cut THREE MONTHS out of the school year instruction. Tell me how that makes ANY sense?

  58. Sue October 2, 2012 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    Amen! and if I read one more article about how OVERPAID we are I will PUKE! After 9 years of teaching I make 43,000 and pay $450. a month in student loans!

    • Bethany February 18, 2013 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      I agree with all teachers on here. We shouldn’t be blamed for all the shortcomings of a child that are other’s responsibilities to fill in. I am jealous though, I have taught for 11 years and only make $31,000 a year.

  59. Beemee October 3, 2012 at 2:21 am - Reply

    Everyone is tired. Every good parent, every project manager, every garbage truck driver, every everyone. Find a way to light your own fire. The politicians can't save you for fighting among themselves about other issues and you won't be paid for performance anyway, right? Like the rest of us tired Americans, you must find a way to carry on, or quit. It's up to you, but i could write my own manifesto about being a divorced mom with 2 kids and a full time job and it would fall on deaf ears because i don't deserve any more help than a fully educated teacher.

    If your missive was meant to motivate 'addiction-addled' parents, you missed your target. If it was to garner support from other, non-addicted parents, we're listening but too tired to help. The truth is that every generation of teachers has faced what you are facing–different drugs, different distractions, but the same premise–so this entitlement thing is swinging around from your team now. No promised rose gardens here.

    Find your solutions, one kid at a time if needed. Refuse to be defeated, even with no resources. Reach out to your own parents, ignoring the charts and graphs. When that fails, be the role model your students need all by yourself. Solve, save and succeed, but stop your fussing. Things are literally tough all over down here.

    • Lynn October 3, 2012 at 3:33 am - Reply

      Beemee, I'm trying to be civil here, but I'd LOVE to know by what research and professional experience you can lecture veteran teachers about how "every generation of teachers has faced what we're facing." Really? I could write you a BOOK about how you don't know what you're talking about, my friend.

      You have no idea what you're lecturing about. Stop.

  60. Anna Smith October 3, 2012 at 2:51 am - Reply

    Just because you’re tired doesn’t mean you aren’t enthusiastic about the kids and about your subject. It means you’re tired of all the other BS you have to deal with. If you really want the tired teachers to step out of the way so your kid can have the “good” teachers, there’d be none left.

    Excellent post. Thank you for giving a voice to so many of us.

  61. K.Watson October 3, 2012 at 3:13 am - Reply

    When I was a student in public school, there was no question in anyone's mind whose fault it was if I didn't learn something: it was mine. My parents believed it, my teachers believed it, the adminstration believed it, and most importantly, I believed it. I worked my butt off because I knew, deep down in my heart, that if I didn't live up to expectations the world would let me die. I believe that still.

    When I became a teacher, years later, I found to my considerable dismay that the tables had turned; now, no matter what the situation, if a student didn't learn something, it was all my fault. Perhaps you can imagine my confusion. After getting personal responsibility shoved down my throat throughout youth, I get to sit there and take the blame for everyone else in the school while they run off and do whatever they please? Do people in authority actually expect that to work? Maybe it works for them because they don't have to deal with it: the blame has been assigned, and it's far away from them.

    • Barbara N October 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      I like what K. Watson said. It was the same for me. There used to be student RESPONSIBILITY. Now there is only teacher RESPONSIBILITY.

      Most politicians have it wrong. They haven’t been in the classroom and don’t know the complexity and difficulty of the job.

      Every movie done on education has to simply the task for the audience to be able to follow along, so they only show one class with a few students. At middle school we see 150 students each day. What movie has shown the complexity of that? So the public thinks that teaching is simpler than it actually is.

      It’s a hard job to do to spend all week in the classroom and then go home to grade papers and create lessons on Friday night, Saturday morning, afternoon and evening and Sunday morning and then have the afternoon off and be ready to start all over again on Monday morning. And then the political solutions (as in Chicago) involve adding time to the student days on Mondays through Fridays.

      Many parents have it wrong. Parenting is difficult. They are teaching their kids RESPONSIBILITY. They forget that what worked in when the child was 4 won’t work when the child is 5. What is correct to do changes as the child hopefully matures. When parents and politicians want to put the RESPONSIBILITY on teachers, instead of students, they don’t get it. They need to gradually increase the RESPONSIBILITY on the child, and decrease the RESPONSIBILITY on the teacher as the child hopefully matures. Unfortunately, there are many parents who want to hold teachers RESPONSIBLE for the students’ scores, as if the students automatically master, or eventually master everything the teacher covers. It’s easy for a parent to have tunnel vision and to only look at what the teacher is doing for their child. They forget we have 149 other kids to educate.

      Glad I retired a year ago.

  62. Rob391 October 3, 2012 at 3:26 am - Reply

    To the guy that said to join the private sector, you know what? Okay, you win. I will go back to the private sector. I will make more money and not have deal with problems I can't control. I will work my 40 hours and not have to pay out of pocket for my supplies. I will not be the scapegoat for failed policy. Seems to me America wants the very best when it comes to education, they just don't want to pay for it or help with it. Good luck with your kids.

  63. Jeff October 3, 2012 at 3:26 am - Reply

    Teaching is forced socialism with varied results, I believe that if teachers were able to fire students that sucked just like any employer does they may have an easier time doing it. I have been substitute teaching and long term subing for about five years now and charter schools are not the always the best for kids. There is one school I go to quite often and year after year the same students who are in always in trouble seem to always stay in that trend. I am tired of teaching as well. I am tired of lousy parents who think teachers are out to get their kid, who think no not my johnny hes perfect you just don't like him. One tired teacher and cannot afford to keep his license when it expires.

    • Roger C. October 10, 2012 at 1:46 am - Reply

      You hit the nail on the head. You can’t expect these teachers to do well when their students aren’t motivated! If I was a Physics teacher and my best student failed college Physics, genuinely, or did poorly on an ACT test, I would feel like I failed as a teacher. Why should any teacher be made to feel like they failed because most of their students don’t value an education and don’t want to work hard? What can you do? You have no power over them. You can’t even discipline them. What do the bureaucrats expect? It’s all one big joke. It’s a farce. It is all going to fail miserably, because the government has no clue what educators deal with on a daily basis.

  64. arceedee October 3, 2012 at 3:38 am - Reply

    From another perspective, what I found after five years on the local Board of Ed was that there were good teachers and bad teachers in each school in the district. What made the difference between one building and another…the way the building was managed by the building administrator. The Principal; the middle management person.
    Teachers as well as students respect good leadership. Parents will respect teachers more if the building is well managed, organized and disciplined.
    If a Principal can bring the resources of the district and the resources within the building to work together, he/she will command the efforts of the teachers, the students and the parents. If the Principal is more interested in his contract or his popularity and doesn't support the teachers in the building, doesn't enforce the rules, doesn't demand the cooperation of the parents…there is no one else who can!

  65. Kevin Powers October 3, 2012 at 4:07 am - Reply

    Wonderful article, except for his ignorance about private schools. We are regulated as well. I have to have certification from our accrediting agency, which has the authority to accredit us from the state of Tennessee. I realize there may be some schools out there that don’t answer to anyone; however, most do. We have the same pressures public school teachers do, and more, in some areas. Instead of having a sub come in and cover for a sick colleague, we are expected to cover the sick colleague’s class during our planning period, without additional compensation. Haven forbid we actually have to take time off for an appointment; we get docked pay for that even though we have probably made up for it by subbing for other colleagues. We are responsible for areas of cleaning and setup that are usually done by a maintenance crew in the public school system. We don’t have job security, since we have no union to represent us (not that I personally want one). This also means that there is no tenure system. And don’t even get me started about pay. I knew taking this job as a teacher that I would never become independently wealthy; I am here solely for.my students.

  66. Randall Schiera October 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    So in 1983, I was a music education student. I got out and went into accounting. Why? Because I couldn’t see a future in education that didn’t lead to extreme frustration and feeling helpless. Now, I own my own accounting firm. It is amazing to me how pretty much anyone under 40 can’t do simple math because they were taught to estimate. I don’t blame teachers for that, but parents and “experts” who say accountability for right answers hurts self esteem. Really?

    For those that continue, you have my sincere thanks. I hope that it turns around someday, but it’s hard to not be pessimistic.

  67. Overworked, Under appreciated Nurse October 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Speaking off entitlement, teachers ooze it out of ever pore. “Whoa is me! I’m a teacher. Gimme some attention and respect!” This attitude from teachers gets old after awhile. I’m not disagreeing that teaching isn’t a difficult profession, but I get tired of sitting idly back, watching them get all the praise and attention. It’s sickening to watch teachers go on strike because they feel that they deserve a 7% raise. None of the working class is getting raises that high. Last year my raise was 2%, so teachers need to get a reality check. These teachers value money over the well-being and education of their students. As a nurse, I would never think of walking out on my patients because my pay was n’t high enough or I didn’t like my benefits package. Modern teachers have turned this profession into a joke.

    • Annoyed with idiocy October 4, 2012 at 12:21 am - Reply

      You, my friend, are an idiot… Raise? What raise? I've been on a pay freeze now since I started in 2008. No cost of living, no step increases, but increasingly higher insurance rates. I bet you don't have to buy medicine for your patients out of your pocket. If you would spend a day in a school, I have no doubt you would feel very embarrassed for the asinine comments you posted. And benefits package….hahaha…don't even get me started.

    • Tired teacher October 4, 2012 at 1:46 am - Reply

      You are clueless!!!! Seriously: “teachers value money over the well- being of their students”….If we valued money we wouldn’t be teaching. We just got our first raise in 5 years…a wonderful 1.25%…wow!!! I get an extra $20 a paycheck after taxes and deductions. How many hours as a nurse do you work being off the clock, without pay, on your own time? Teachers work at home every night and on weekends, without pay. How much of your own money do you spend to get supplies to do your job? Teachers buy the majority of their classroom and student supplies out of their own pocket. You need to get a reality check because you have turned yourself into a joke.

    • Becky October 6, 2012 at 3:26 am - Reply

      This year, for the second year in a row, we began the year with six furlough days. Six furlough days = 3% pay CUT. So you got a 2% raise and I got a 3% cut. Depending on how voting goes next month, it is quite possible that they will be adding furlough days second semester, which means more salary cuts.

      My biggest class this year has 40 students in it. I work 12 – 16 hours a day 5 days a week and spend most of Saturday asleep, trying to recover.

      The most affordable HMO healthcare plan offered by my district costs $370/month for an individual and teachers pay that full amount.

      Averaging 60-70 hours of work a week is inherently exhausting. Motivating, encouraging, supporting, instructing, directing, responding to and monitoring large groups of children is inherently exhausting. I could choose to get more sleep and to have more time for my personal life if I wanted to sacrifice the quality of my work, but I don’t because I care deeply about the children I teach. So I am exhausted because it matters deeply to me that I deliver the highest quality education I can to my students. And I don’t think this makes me special or amazing or a saint. I think it reflects my morals and my ethics and the fact that I have to CHOOSE to exhaust myself in order to do quality work is what I personally feel really, deeply upset about.

    • Rumbagarden October 10, 2012 at 1:24 am - Reply

      I love the mentality that I have it bad so you should just sit down and shut up and have it as bad as me. Meanwhile, the rich get richer. I think the nurse should have her job depend on whether her patients comply with her directions on how to become healthy. If not, she should be labeld a failure. These results should be posted on the internet with the names of every nurse ranked in order of “best to worst.” This might make her a happier employee who wants to make sure every patient can strive for excellent healthy living…just like teachers.

  68. Teacher245667 October 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Well written description of the problem. Let's celebrate teachers like Katie Gimbar who are finding solutions to these problems: http://youtu.be/to5w4yNsIkk

  69. Shari October 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Teaching finally "did me in", after 11 yrs of being told it was never enough or not good enough my health started to decline as well as my state of mind. The section that has the comments on schools not being good enough hits the nail on the head. I am healthier and happier today out of the classroom but it does sadden me when I run into a former student who thinks its terrible I am no longer teaching. Yes there are teachers that aren't the best, they are a minority, and that is true in every profession. Why is it that teaching is the profession that everyone is punished for the minority?

  70. […] here. Thoughts? This writer’s perspective seems to align with the liberal movement for education […]

  71. Larry Bell October 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    I am in my third year of teaching and I spend numerous hours before and after school preparing lessons and grading papers. I am offended at the verbal attacks on public educators by the politicians. Many of them have no idea the time and effort we put in to prepare our students. We do not enter this field for the money, it is for the pure joy of working with children. These politicians do not have the slightest idea what we deal with on a daily basis. It's frustrating and upsetting to hear these attacks when we all spend countless hours outside of our regular school day to make sure we're prepared. I love my job, but I hate hearing these negative comments and demands from politicians.

  72. retiredteacher October 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    One thing not mention is amount of time and energy parents and students spend on sports, dance, travel teams etc.. Children come to school tired or leave early to complete in activities that have nothing to with their education. Teachers have to educate these children too.

  73. sr14225 October 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm - Reply

    I'm reminded of a cartoon I saw. In the first panel, a child is cowering, a teacher looks smug, and the parents are yelling at their child "what is the meaning of these grades!" In the next panel, the teacher is cowering, the student looks smug and the parents are yelling at the teacher "what is the meaning of these grades!" Many people don't have accountability any more. "It's your fault, not mine" is the common attitude. People will also threaten to sue and blame for every little thing. It has become the me generation. I suppose when these kids go to get jobs they will blame their failures on teachers who didn't educate them or parents who didn't make them do their homework.

  74. mamitame October 4, 2012 at 12:10 am - Reply

    I'm not a teacher, but I can see a valid point here- I've long been discouraged by the growing number of parents who seem to prefer that the teachers and the public schools do all the parenting for them. Parents do need to step up and accept responsibility for their offspring. But it's not all their fault either, it's politicians and media and so many others who also factor in. I don't know a perfect solution, but I think electing a president who will help to fix the country and who has standards and faith in America is a good start. I realize a lot of educators support President Obama, but PLEASE remember all that he has failed to do or improve in his first term as president. In a second term he'll have even less accountability and even more power and it's not going to be good for our country or our schools.

    • what? October 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm - Reply

      Good parenting has nothing to do with who's in the White House. It means stepping up and doing the job in YOUR house. I applaud you for your good intentions, but you are completely off-base.

  75. Done with teaching October 4, 2012 at 12:26 am - Reply

    This teacher is done after this year. Too tired to fight the district, administration, parents and the public any longer. 15 years was 14 too many. I'd rather do something more respected, like garbage collection, hairdresser, nail artist, or car sales.

  76. EntitledStudent October 4, 2012 at 12:47 am - Reply

    So I got linked to this article from facebook, and I feel for you. Having seen some of the best as well as the worst of the public school system(now in college), I appreciate the candor of your article. The “yes there are bad apples, but that’s not the main problem”, I mean. From a teacher who calls the white boy in a 87% African American middle school “racist” in front of the class because she had a bad day(narrowly avoided being murdered for that… Had to be taken out of school for a month) to the teacher who actively engages his students, while battling cancer, and still manages to cover all the material while being out for two months, and still leads the class to an average high ap test score. You good ones are gems, and I just wanted to say thank you all for sticking it out. There may be a lot of “me me me”, but there are still some good parents out there, some good kids.
    Also, charter schools are the worst idea in history, and I get physically ill every time I imagine my taxes going to a school that teaches that fossils were put there by god to eff with us as a fact, and who don’t know the difference between a theory and a hypothesis.
    I’m not saying I agree with the politics of either side… Just sayin this article seems to ring true, and that there are some of us who still appreciate what ya do.

  77. Sharon October 4, 2012 at 1:14 am - Reply

    This article was right on. I teach Kindergarten and I come home feeling like an day care provider. It seems like parents are not interested in their child learning they just want a place for their child to be while they work or do whatever they do during the day. Each year it is getting harder and harder to return to teaching (which I love). There is a growing disrespect for our profession and the children are displaying their parent's attitudes about us in the classroom.
    I am not an entertainer and I was not hired to entertain children. My job is to educate!!!!!

  78. Karen October 4, 2012 at 3:05 am - Reply

    *mamitame* the reason that “a lot of educators support President Obama” is that he is the best hope for our children, our schools, and most importantly, our future. Please don’t turn this into a political forum; but the fact is, Mitt Romney would like to run schools like he runs his businesses and his life. We’re talking charter schools, religion being incorporated into the curriculum in schools (*his* religion and beliefs, of course), and pay based on teacher performance. What no one has bothered to explain to Mr. Romney is that you CANNOT run schools like a business – EVER! You cannot ship our children overseas to be educated because it’s cheaper and you’ll get a bigger profit margin, you cannot dismantle schools and sell off the pieces to other schools to raise your profit margin, and most importantly, you cannot return inferior or damaged “raw material” (our children) because that will produce an inferior or damaged final product!
    Mr. Romney has a very skewed view of “middle class” and no help can be expected for those at the poverty level from him because he believes that government should not help those “lazy people looking for handouts.” The only students who will be able to continue their education at the secondary level will be those who can afford it without help. In my experience, many of these rich children feel the most “entitled,” and the effect that this would have on the momentum of our intellectual growth would be disastrous!
    President Obama believes SO much more in the value of education! I don’t agree with everything he does, but he is hands-down the better hope for our children and our future.

  79. Denise October 4, 2012 at 3:45 am - Reply

    My grandmother taught school from the time she was 16 until she was 66. In 50 years she never encountered the attitude or expectation that she, as a teacher, was soley responsible for a student's success. To lay all responsibility on a teacher, and none on the student is a disservice to the student as well as the teacher. As parents we need to realize that people will rise to our expectations of them. If we expect nothing from them, that is exactly what they will become.
    My daughter teaches high school. She was just diagnosed with mono. She had it for a while before they figured it out because fatigue is such a constant part of each school year that excessive fatigue did not raise a red flag.
    I used to have a client who had taught for years. She referred to no child left behind as "no teacher left alive". She took early retirement due to stress and fatigue and her students lost an experienced, caring and engaged teacher.

  80. Worktogether October 4, 2012 at 4:21 am - Reply

    I truly believe it takes everyone to educate. The parent, the student, the teacher, the administrator or should I say it takes the whole village. We can’t point fingers because that seems to be the root of the problem.

    Legislators- bring back vocational schools! Everyone is not college material. Teach a trade so these students leave school with a trade and can contribute to the community (and maybe even some self worth and/confidence.

  81. Tarrou October 4, 2012 at 5:18 am - Reply

    Couple points for y’all, from someone who couldn’t possibly sympathize less with you. Consider it principled opposition,

    1: When you ally your profession to only one party in a two-party system, you can’t be surprised when your opponents target you. Teachers unions are solidly Dem. Republicans have no reason to do anything for you, they won’t get your money, and they won’t get your votes. You can’t influence them unless you’re willing to support them. Look at the NRA. You may not like them, and they lean Republican, but they’ll drop a Republican in a heartbeat if a Dem is better on their issue. They’ve long supported guys like Harry Reid. That’s how they win, they play both sides. Teachers have been politically short-sighted. Now you pay the price.

    2: I get that unionism is this big thing, but all the public sees is you fighting to keep violent felons and child molesters their jobs. Y’all need to get out in front of that. Rubber rooming dozens and dozens of predators does nothing for your credibility. Teacher’s unions made their stand, and they sided with sex criminals against children. At least that’s how it plays on the news. If you don’t want to be associated with the worst among you, you have to be the first to punish them. Every time some teacher’s union gets a scandal-ridden teacher a nice job or a good pension, the public loses trust in you. You have little enough, spend it wisely.

    3: People respect professionalism. If you can’t demand it of yourself and your colleagues, it can’t be imposed or manufactured. The public is losing trust in you. We don’t think you have children’s best interest in mind, or ours. You’re willing to go on strike and leave hundreds of thousands of children without education in Chicago. You’re willing to go to court to force us to keep paying sexual predators to hang around our children. You are completely partisan politically. You may do a lot of good, but it only takes one scandal, one bad apple that your union defends, to ruin the reputation of decades of hundreds of teachers.

    4: If you don’t want external standards imposed, then make your internal standards even higher. Every major education fight includes this, and most teacher rebel at the idea of having any objective standard to meet. To the normal person, that looks a lot like all of you being terrible at your jobs and not wanting anyone to find out. Teaching is a hard thing to quantify, but as long as you resist any and all standards, many people will suspect what I already know, which is that not one “teacher” in a hundred deserves the title.

    • Becky October 6, 2012 at 3:59 am - Reply

      1. Our nation working together (both us teachers and you non-sympathizers who criticize us for not playing the system correctly) should not be a question of working the political system. The priority should be creating an educational system that provides all students with access to quality education so that they can become productive, well-rounded members of society as they move into their adult lives.

      2. You are not very specific about how it is that you have come to speak for the public. I personally know a lot of people who, as far as I know, do belong to the public and simply would not agree with your assertion here in number two. I'd also like to point out that the statement: "At least that's how it plays on the news," indicates to me that in your education, you either were not taught or did not successfully understand the lesson on critical thinking and evaluating sources. What the news says, regardless of the station, is biased. It is each individual's job to think for him/herself, to question the information that they see on the news and to do research to find out how accurate different news sources are.

      3. As an individual teacher, I am incredibly professional and I am respected by my students, my colleagues and my administration. Most of my students' parents respect me as well. The same can be said for my colleagues. None of that changes the fact that my biggest class has 40 students in it, I work 60-75 hours a week, my district currently has 6 furlough days with more to come depending on November voting. There comes a point when someone who wants to be respected, someone who is dignified, someone who is a professional has to stand up for him/herself.

      4. Do you know that we don't really get a choice on this one? I don't get to go into work tomorrow and say, "Gee Mrs. Principal – I've been thinking. I don't really want external standards imposed, so I'm going to go ahead and raise my internal standards!" Furthermore, in order to succeed as a teacher, I do have to meet my students where they are. If they come into high school with no study skills, the handwriting of a fourth grader and they do not know what a verb is, that is where we begin. And if that is where we begin, where we end might not look particularly high to an outsider who does not know my students and who does not understand what it means to be a teacher. And it also does not mean that I have failed. I also am not inherently against standards. The way in which you address them really oversimplifies what is a rather complex conversation that involves issues of national standards, state standards, equity issues, societal changes that impact both the populations we teach and the world in which they will need to succeed as adults.

  82. Jobe October 4, 2012 at 6:19 am - Reply

    I am exhausted…..from the blame shifting we do as adults. Teachers blame pathetic parents who are doing the best they can with what they have. I can’t tell you how many nights i would take back right now to invest my time in the most important things……my own children. I have taught in high poverty /low income horrorstory ville for 7 years trying to save the world yet forgetting my own. Well, they are fine and things could be worse but I’m learning the value of balance and the benefits of walking away from things I have zero control over. This work is never done….no matter how long you plan details….they rarely go in your intended direction. So as we sit and complain about this job or judge other hard working parents, have we paid any attention to our own? That’s what I’m asking me from now on. Priorities are my priority….let the chips fall where they may. The End

    • Time for a refocus of priorities October 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      Aaahhh, another former teacher done in by by exhaustion and a fear that their own children are unintended victims of their parent’s career. I am done after 19 years of it. My oldest is 12 and I am going to do something that leaves me with time and energy to parent MY 3 kids with the devotion and energy they deserve. I cannot save the world, but I can make sure my kids aren’t second place to my classroom.

  83. terri October 4, 2012 at 6:52 am - Reply

    ….thank you!

  84. Cat October 4, 2012 at 11:01 am - Reply

    Weekends are no longer weekends. They're all wok days now. The saddest part is that the teachers who are also parents have to balance both jobs. If I be a mom first, I have to stay up until at least midnight every night – not to stay afloat, but to not hit the very bottom. I miss TEACHING! Documentation trumps teaching these days, it seems. We can't get raises, but the cost of living can. Insurance goes up, so we get paid less – all to be more stressed and exhausted. It's not about the money, but sometimes it would be nice to counter the stress with something, anything.

  85. Guest October 4, 2012 at 11:47 am - Reply

    I'm a college-educated mom who stays at home, but has 2 dear friends who are teachers and I understand what you mean when you say they are exhausted. They are passionate about the job, although it's really more of a calling. They are expected to undo what is happening at home and prepare these kids to excel in the world. The hours at school are merely the first shift. Then it's home for grading and lesson plans. Teachers aren't appreciated enough because the public doesn't realize how hard it is and they are maligned as whiners. There are a growing number of us, though, who get it. And we appreciate all you do. On a side note, I couldn't done without the remark about how other nations' mothers are superior to American moms who value fast-foods and reality shows. We sacrifice to provide out kids with everything they need and that comment wasn't helpful at best and was mean and unnecessary at worst.

  86. jeffrey October 4, 2012 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    While it is true that not all parents are "those parents," it is also true that not all teachers are "those teachers." There are more hindrances to education than this or any article can hope to address. Still we plug on…

  87. Marc October 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    I have been an educator for over 30 years. I have taught several subjects at all levels including post secondary education. Currently, I am a special educator at the secondary level in a rural state in the the North East. I am tired and not for all of the reasons stated in the article. I am tired of working extended hours modifying curriculum to make it as interesting as possible and energetically presenting it to students whose parents do not value education and model their "we are entitled" philosophy to their children while collecting from the state. Although, I still love my job. And, maybe I get to some of them.

  88. Retiredteachr October 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    I retired from teaching two years ago. I have been told many times that I look ten years younger. Truthfully, I feel younger. Teaching is not only exhausting; it is emotionally draining. When I started in 1976, it was also exhausting. The difference…..the way teachers are now disrespected. By the end of my career I found myself constantly defending myself. If you are a dedicated teacher who works hard and loves what you do, that takes a huge toll. Let's take a hint from the Finns and get rid of standardized tests, let teachers teach and pay salaries that attract the best and the brightest.

    • Guest October 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      I respect the teachers! There are several teachers in particular whom I consider among my kids' first mentors.

  89. […] and Scully to uncover secrets to rooting for Jack Harkness to conceal them.”“Suddenly, the apple-themed knit sweater is a symbol of American menace rivaling the leather biker jacket.”“The whole experience felt rather like finding […]

  90. Nick October 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    I taught physics and chemistry for two years in a high-risk city high school, and I had to quit for my own health. The stress of dealing with teaching to the test, distant administrators, crumbling classrooms, decades-old lab equipment, unprepared students without the barest of resources and a hostile security atmosphere like a juvenile detention center caused me to grind my teeth down and drop two pants sizes. Even though I was accepted to the NYC Teaching Fellows program at the end of my second year, I was too much of a physical wreck to transfer there. So, now I’m working in the private sector (which is paying for my dental work…)

    I wish I could’ve continued teaching high school. I loved doing it, and I got great results, but the environment is such a meatgrinder, I have complete respect for the teachers who manage to survive it for longer than I did.

    • Roger C. October 10, 2012 at 1:58 am - Reply

      I feel your pain. Wow.

  91. sjordanla October 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    If only those who needed to read this would… Or could comprehend the vocab. Sad. Sincerely, HS English teacher, exhausted, broken, beaten down, told yesterday I can't discipline students for sleeping in class because "I dont find out what his home life is like ( called home 10 times; no return call).

  92. Tracy October 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Sad but true. I remember remarking to a teacher at my children's grade school, who was retiring, that in the all the years she taught, she must have seen children change and she looked at me and said, "it's not the children that have changed but the parent's" This comment was made to me in 1998, it was and is such a true statement..

  93. lbh October 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    This was posted on my sister-in-laws page. She is a teacher and an awesome human being. I'm a single mom with a full-time job. I have 2 kids who've attended the same school district since kindergarten. They have both been diagnosed with learning disabilities and have had IEP's for as long as I can remember. They are awesome human beings also. Currently a senior and freshman, respectively, they both graduated their grades with top honors last year and with no work modifications. This would never have been possible with out the team of educators that taught them, worked with them and cared about them. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to those dedicated people and all of the others out there.

  94. Harold October 4, 2012 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    After 35 years of teaching ,I gave it up in 2006. It became a job and not something I enjoyed. I used to love the job. Twelve hours was common, weekends at school occurred at times. When I started the parents attitude was not “my child does no wrong” but rather the child apologized and the parent said let me know if there is another problem. When I left it was my child does no wrong and the “No child left behind” also known as no teacher left. I still substitute and when I go in I am so glad I am not there anymore. Every teacher walks around saying they are exhausted. However, my question is when does a teacher teach? All I see them doing is testing or heaven forbid not answering the administrator’s email which was supposed to be answered before it was sent. Planning period is a joke the teacher spends it answering emails. You all have my sympathy. I loved the job but in today’s climate there is not enough love in the world. Every teacher should become part of the military and receive battle pay.

  95. Cherie October 5, 2012 at 12:31 am - Reply

    I am exhausted also! Plus I have children of my own to raise. It seems like with all this pressure & all the impossoble expectations we have nothing left for our own children. I come home with just enough time to cook dinner, do homework with my own kids, bath & bed. Then on the weekends I am grading papers, planning lessons, & researching ways to help our students-oh and when I can I spend time with my OWN children.

  96. Marie October 5, 2012 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Well said……well said!

  97. Too tired October 5, 2012 at 1:56 am - Reply

    Today is only Thursday and by 5 pm, I had already put in 53 hours this week and there is another day to go, lessons to plan and another day left. I am exhausted, my house is a wreck, I am always behind and there is a pile of grading to do- though most of it will be covered in red ink- a result of students not listening as I essentially read the chapter at hand to them, go over and over the same material (because they are not listening). I wonder why I bother? I also not each morning as I struggle to unlock the door to my classroom, balancing large loads of books and materials that I dragged home the night before, that the students enter the building empty-handed. Their nights are spent in leisure (certainly not doing homework or studying). I as the teacher am the failure, not the students and certainly not the parents.

    • Roger C. October 10, 2012 at 1:57 am - Reply

      Sad, yup. Even worse, the administrators blame you now for this. Like, what can you do?

  98. tinydancer279 October 5, 2012 at 2:46 am - Reply

    Such a dead-on article. I spend hours each evening after school looking for interesting lessons and activities aligned with the common core standards to do with my students. I have bought many extra materials (with my own $…I think my receipts are up to $1700 so far this year) and have planned numerous lessons that most would consider extremely engaging. Unfortunately, due to severe discipline problems in my classroom, I have yet to completely instruct even ONE of those lessons. Sad to say, the same discipline problems keep repeating themselves b/c there are no true consequences for students. We try to calm them when they become upset. We frequently ask them “why” for their behaviors, even when it consists of physical aggression toward staff and other students, and is more than disruptive to any attempted instruction. We give time-outs and speak to their parents, and often times are asked what “WE” did to upset them by mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, etc. So far this year I have come home every night completely exhausted, stressed, and feeling defeated. I can honestly say that I have shed tears over the complications at work that I have come across this year. I apologize for using this article as a spring board for venting. All in all, my purpose for writing was simply to agree that this article seems to be right on the money.

    • Roger C. October 10, 2012 at 2:04 am - Reply

      I feel your pain.

  99. long enough for me October 5, 2012 at 4:17 am - Reply

    I just moved to a new state 6 weeks ago after teaching in a large, urban district for 19 years. I am waiting on my teaching certificate from this state, but I really am thinking long and hard about whether or not to go back. I read teacher blogs now (which I did not have time to do when I was teaching between all the stuff for work and trying to take care of my 3 kids and our home and be a supportive wife) and when I read about rigor, common core, RtI, progress monitoring, data disaggregation, assessment, and on and on and on, I can feel the stress start bubbling up again. I think to myself, “Do I really want to go back to that?” But I miss the actual art of teaching… I am going to sub this year, but I have to say, for the
    first time since I’ve been a mom (and my oldest is. 12

  100. patty October 5, 2012 at 6:39 am - Reply

    Sad that education has come to holding our teachers responsible and accountable instead of the parents and students themselves…It really does take a village to raise a child….As a music educator myself, I want to thank all of my teachers for their passion, diligence, patience, and dedication to the cause…Our students future.

  101. CB October 5, 2012 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Married to teacher, son of teachers, grandson of teachers. Right on the money about crappy parenting and crummy adult role models , but pretty cowardly not to take unions to task for their share of the mess. Can’t and shouldn’t be blamed all on unions, but you are delusional in not taking them to task as well.

  102. Tad Betancourt October 5, 2012 at 11:11 am - Reply

    That is so true, my wife comes home so tired and stressed everyday. Then she spends all day Saturday & most of Sundays planning. Schools use to give teachers planning hours, but now they fill them with meetings and wasted interruptions. So now what happens to their own children? They now also get neglected, because teacher feel pressured in being our nations young’s only hope for survival in the society that is quickly going to hell in a gift wrapped package. It’s an endless cycle. I feel the root of it starts at home NOT at school. Let’s start giving parents a score and see what happens. Are we as a society scared of the truth? I for one am not, I know that I am at best a B as a father; I am not perfect. But importantly enough, I am there when they need me.

  103. APV October 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Im a 30 yr old elementary teacher. This is my sixth year of full time classroom teaching. Im not claiming to be the best. I have things to learn. I also make mistakes. But there is an issue in our society's parents when it comes to work ethic/moral development. I have students who look at me as if I had two heads when I make them say "please" and "thank you." I have students who will accidentally trip into someone, and not inderstand why i ask them to apologize. It has apparently never occurred to them that if you hurt someone by accident, it still your fault! Our society is dealing with parents who are not instilling a solid value set on their children. (Some, not all). There are students who show up to school without their assigments. When asked why, they tell me its because they had "baseball" or "dance" too late the night before….and the worst part ia, the parents have taken the time to write their students a note as to why the assignment doesn' get completed. Some students are just not being taught that school and homework are more important than sports and afterschool, extracurricular activities.
    I do my absolute best everyday to instill these values on my students. I work hard. My job hours are legally 8am-3pm…but I am at school at or before 730am until, at the earliest, 4pm….and often later. The amount of work that just the teaching part deals with is immense….try teaching science to a class of 27 4th graders, in a room that they dont fit in, and tell me bigger numbers can work. Not to mention, teachers often find themselves teaching social skills and having to take time out of teaching to teach children how to be in school, be respectful, think of others. And this is all just part of the job…but "teachers have it easy…they only have a 6hr work day…they're just kids, how is it that stressful?" You should see some of the kids that walk into my classroom on a daily basis, crushed and broken, before I can even start trying to teach…Is that student set up for success or failure?
    We only have the students for 6hrs….We cant do it all. Parenting comes first….school comes second. The students can only learn when they know how…and with this top down government approach to education, coming from people who have probably never stepped foot in a classroom, we are never going to get to the top in any "race." There has been this stigma that teachers do the teaching…and thats it.
    A lot of parents are not teaching their children to value education, like mine did. When I came home from school with a note that I didnt pass in my homework, my parents took my nintendo away until I could prove I was back on track. A lot of these kids have learned to manipulate their parents (and teachers too) and it scares me to think of what will come of them in the future.
    Education and teachers do need reform….but lets start thinking about reforming the American value set…which can only start in one place, the home! The biggest thing I took from this article was this: If teachers arent allowed to give up, and we can get reprimanded or fired for low test scores…Why do parents get to give up? Why does the government get to just impose their ever changing thoughts and ideas into education? Why arent parents holding themselves and their children accountable?
    I love my job. I love children. But I am tired of feeling like a scapegoat for society, when I am working extremely hard for these students. We need adults on general, as this article said, to take some responsibilty in instilling values, ethics, and morals into todays children.

  104. Chris October 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Well, I look at it like this. Good teachers, as well as good parents, are only measured at the end of their jobs (years/decades of work). The kicker is when good teachers and good parents do their jobs they become invisible. Most of the credit for success goes to the child, which is well deserved, however, take those good parents and good teachers out of the picture….and all hell breaks loose.
    Basic common sense has been replaced by the politics and economics of education. Hah, maybe its easier for non-educators to "fix" a system that wasn't really broken after they drive it off a cliff :o)

  105. Sage October 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Our newest teacher lasted 1.5 weeks before she put in her 2 week notice. Telling.

  106. guest October 5, 2012 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    I have been teaching for almost 20 years. I am exhausted when I come home. I arrive at work by 6 am and leave after 4 pm. I work my tail off all day. My students class averages are about 80%. I am constantly in fear of my job, or of the email from my administrator that will say that I am not doing enough. I spend money from my own paycheck to get supplies of my classroom and my students because without the supplies the task will not be completed. I am constantly being told by my administrator that we are to love the children , that discipline has to be determined by the child's background etc.,hat the student cannot be held accountable because the student has such a bad life at home, that classroom discipline is an indication that I am teaching by intimidation, that I should do more "free" learning and that I cannot get out of my contract when I find a new job even after I was assured I could. I am tired!

  107. Norma Stevlingson October 6, 2012 at 12:42 am - Reply

    Far too often parenting is a thing of the past. More than with teachers, much of the fault for poorly behaved, unprepared students rests only with parents who in so many cases have not grown up themselves.

  108. @jenfarrell215 October 6, 2012 at 12:48 am - Reply

    Amen, amen, amen! I am dead tired. And every time I hear some politician or public figure condemn educators or suggest some potential solution, I think to myself (and often say out loud to my fiance or my TV), "Okay. You want to condemn me? You think you know how to teach better than I do? Come and do my job for a month or two. Then we'll talk."

    Also, I think part of the issue is the fact that, unlike any other career, EVERY ONE has experience with teachers. Everyone was a student, and I think people mistakenly assume that since they spent 12 years in school as a student, they know what it means to be a teacher. Teaching is an art and a science. It is not for the faint of heart or weak of will. I take my proverbial hat off to every one of you.

    Now I'm going to bed.

  109. K12reformer October 6, 2012 at 1:27 am - Reply

    The problem here is that Kuhn (and teachers) have established the narrative that what is said about –and is probably true — about SOME teachers must be, according to the union perspective, true about ALL teachers.

    If they were to self police, then much of this criticism would go away over time.

    Regrettably, as long as they hold a monopoly, and the unions protect the worst among them, then he best are going to pay the price.  Sad.

  110. dehnungsstreifen entfernen October 6, 2012 at 2:05 am - Reply

    dehnungsstreifen entfernen…

    […]always a significant fan of linking to bloggers that I really like but really don’t get a good deal of link appreciate from[…]…

  111. linda October 6, 2012 at 2:31 am - Reply

    I am exhausted for another reason. There are valid points from both sides. The movies listed spoke the truth in the same way that you are speaking the truth. There are so many situations and stories from both sides.
    I am homeschooling and exhausted! I did not want to homeschool but was forced into it due to a lack of resources and cooperation from the school. I do have an "entitled" child, a child who should be entitled to an education. I am frustrated by the ceiling that is impossible to penetrate when it comes to dealing with administrators and teachers. Just as you are tired of dealing with parents and kids who don't want to cooperate with you.
    There are many issues that would be better solved coming together and breaking through the ceiling.

  112. George Milne October 6, 2012 at 2:42 am - Reply

    I started teaching in 1964 and went on to teach a total of 31 years I retired about 5 years ago. In that time I had many student teachers from three or four differernt universities. Some were pretty good, Some were okay. None were failures. There were many years when I did not have any student teachers at all. but in the last three years of my teaching career I had five student teachers. These teachers were some of the best teachers I have ever seen. Ever! They were just so much better prepared to teach than I was. They were smart, involved, dedicated, determined and effective. One of them was just the best young teacher I have ever seen, and our district did not hire him. I could not get over that. But he got his first job at his alma mater and is still there. Lucky for that school.

    So I want to say that those last few student teachers lead me to believe that our schools are really in good hands. Better hands than ours. The training of our teachers in the Universities is vastly improved and the success of my student teachers points to all-around better education for our grandkids. I am optimistic. Good universities turn out good teachers and good schools contilnue to turn out good students.

  113. lisa October 6, 2012 at 2:44 am - Reply

    I thought maybe I had written that first paragraph. It was me to a T lately. I'm still a fairly "new" teacher, with 6 years under my belt, and I'm so ready to get out of education.

  114. Becky October 6, 2012 at 3:03 am - Reply

    I am in my third year of teaching and I've been running on 4 – 5 hours of sleep a night pretty much since I started teaching. I do get a slight break in the summer, but I also have to find summer employment to make sure that I have something in my savings account just in case. Tired feels like an understatement.

    Last year I had the idea that we should have a "take your politician to work week" to give them a little perspective on what exactly it is we do. They would have to arrive at school when we arrive, shadow us all day, and be with us while we do all of our planning time and grading time (even if it is after school lets out). Ideally they would also be responsible for teaching a class at the end of the week.

    Anyway, that's my dream.

  115. larry October 6, 2012 at 3:56 am - Reply

    I was an easy student to teach. In my world, not turning in an assignment, much less a late assignment, was not an option. Talking out of turn was not an option. Doing an assignment half ass was not an option. I did what the teacher expected, my parents allowed no excuses for poor grades, and I knew that for me to be successful in this world I had to be a hard worker and do well in school. As a teacher, I see many kids who are similar and make teaching so muc fun. But I have a pile of them who are apathetic to school, lack the motivation and skills to really hunker down and work on difficult tasks. While its sad, I sometimes have to accept it to preserve my own sanity. With plcs, many meetings, prepping for labs, putting things in moodle, contacting parents, and proving evidence that I am m doin g lessons to meet the school goals there is only so much time and deciding what to work on is hard. My biggest frustration is when society tells me "we need more engineers and scientists" yet it is so difficult to motivate kids to push themselves hard in those areas. They rather take ceramics, or photography, or team sports over ap biology and college chemistry. Its painful to watch the news depress over the bad job market when you know there are jobs in the technology sector yet not enough people pursuing those fields. By the way, I left my job as a researcher in the drug industry after 5 years. I was on the fast track, made decent money, benefits, excellent vacation time but wanted to teach. I love teaching, love students…even the ones that cause me much stress. This job is 10x more exhausting than my industry job, but also 10x more rewarding. I just wish the outside world did a better job creating a culture where learning, hard work and discovery were valued more than tweets, sports, celebrities and electronic devices.

  116. […] Read this and thank John Kuhn for being a hero of public education, a hero of teachers, and a hero of students. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Categories Childhood, Pre-K, K, Honor Roll, Parents, Students, Teachers and Teaching […]

  117. Audrey Hill October 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    If I lived in Texas, I would want to work for you. If you ran for office, I would campaign for you. Door to door.

  118. […] piece (below & linked) by John Kuhn, a superintendent in the state of Texas, and whom I have written about before is just […]

  119. askteacherz October 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Wonderful post. Education in the United States is at rock bottom. Futuristically NO ONE will want to be an educator. The GENERAL public must take this into consideration when they vote to privatize, cut retirement, slash benefits and degrade the profession. Teachers are not sub-class unionized workers that have the summer-off. Teachers are professionals that have earned post-graduate degrees in an effort to dedicate their lives to the youth of our nation; for this they are treated with little respect and degraded. If things do not change teachers truly will NOT be a profession; rather a stepping stone, a filler, a temporary job until a college graduate can find a “career” job. This is the true nature of the fight that career educators are undertaking and its NOT about OUR job, it’s about the future of our nation.

  120. Matthew Swope October 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I am a teacher. Year 10. High school physics. I am a professional educator in a field that demands professional credentials, continuing education, skill and knowledge based licensing exams and background checks including fingerprints so I am deemed responsible enough and safe enough to work with children. I’m a mandated reporter of physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse.

    There, now I’ve established my bona fides and authority to speak knowledgably on the subject.

    Oh, wait, I have to knock out the ones who claim I’ve only ever taught. I served in and was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps. I then spent six years carrying a badge and a gun and worked a beat as a police officer in a city of 180+ thousand people. I’ve done other things than teach.

    When I was a cop, if crime went up on my beat they didn’t blame me for not working hard enough. They brought in additional officers to beef up the presence and manpower. They did dispassionate studies of data to identify problems, communicated the results to me, and let me help decide how to address the,. They swarmed identified problems with social assistance and community programs, assigned undercover officers to work from the inside, provided more funding for Women’s Protective Services and Children’s Peotective Services, brought in the narcotics and gang task forces to assist, assigned volunteers from the DA’s office and City Council to spend weeks riding around with me as observers so they could see what I was up against, and provided me with medical aid and psychological care (mandated after certain stressful incidents like shootings) and never, ever, accused me of not working hard enough or being a good enough cop. Instead, they identified poverty, drugs, poor or absent parenting, and legitimate mental illnesses and disabilities as the root of the problem.

    I was provided the proper equipment to do my job and it was regularly serviced and updated. I was provided continuing training in the mental and physical duties of my job.

    I got tired of seeing kids as victims or criminals and went back to a school to try and help them from the other side of life. I became a teacher. I took a $24k per year pay cut for this privilege. I saddled myself with 20 years of student loans. I spend in excess of $1000 a year of my own money to provide equipment and student supplies so I can do my job effectively. I take every student in my class, whether it was the year I am doing inclusion teaching or the year I have the AP kids. I make progress with every student but that progress cannot always be measured by a standardized test. I feed some of my kids. I’ve bought them clothing. I’ve visited them in juvie, hospitals, hospices and at the graveside. I’ve been praised, cussed, disrespected, honored and ignored by parents and administration.

    I lead my department, my campus academic competition team and my students. I follow my principal and superintendent. I’m responsive to parents.

    I love kids and teaching.

    I’m tired. I am not respected. I am underpaid.

    I am not responsible for what happens outside of my 45 minutes a day with your child. I only accept that sponsibility for my own two children.

    Please help me do my job for your child and community. Stop demonizing me, my profession, and my fellow teachers. See through the deceptive manipulation of the reform movement and high stakes standardized testing. Don’t buy into the propaganda about teachers unions and how evil they are. Don’t listen to liars like Rhee who are only in it for the money.

    Let me teach. Allow fellow professionals and administrators to evaluate me fairly and help me if I don’t meet expectations. Listen to me when I speak for I am a professional and I am in it to do the best job possible with the kids I am given.

    Help me. I want to help you.

    • Matthew Swope October 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      Apologies for the typos. I blame lack of sleep and the iPad keyboard.

  121. Students Last October 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    To the list of adults who are letting children down, we would like to add people who take positions for which they are not qualified. If you have taught for two years and now think it is time to be a principal, you are wrong. If you once managed a Bed Bath and Beyond, please do not impose your towel counting skills on innocent children in the form of an assistant principal. If after 5 weeks of training (and knowing that you will be leaving in 730 days when your service is up), you think you are prepared to handle all the needs of a roomful of impoverished children, think again. If after serving your “heroic” two years in an impoverished community, you now think you should bring your ever so informed self to our nation’s capitol or any of our state capitol’s to write policy, please don’t. You are NOT prepared. You are NOT experienced. You are NOT qualified. And although you already know this (in a wee small part of your heart that you don’t like to examine), we will still add… and you don’t care about the students. It is merely a pretext to your own self-aggrandizement or the result of a poor economy that has you in this field. Move on, get out, you are hurting our students, you are irreparably damaging our profession and we are so tired of working with you.

  122. calhoun October 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Fabulous article, finally someone acknowledges the elephant in the room. How do we fix this mess?

  123. Anne Harvey October 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Thank you John Kuhn. Your words are spot on.
    I am a pre-k teacher who has seen the push down effect of racing to nowhere.
    When I first started teaching pre-k 14 years ago the focus was on exploration and socialization. if a child started writing and/or reading a few words, that was fine. It was not, however, the focus of every day and every lesson.
    Few mention, but the boys in my pre-k classes suffer the most. We no longer take naps. The cots have been removed from my rooms. Bathroom time is considered taking away from instruction and discouraged. We have gym 2x a week for 45 minutes. We do not have scheduled outdoor time. It is considered a break time for teachers and has no rigor so is discouraged. My boys are, by the afternoon, wound so tight they don't know what to do with themselves.
    I see this year after year. Instead of acknowledging that these children need more movement and true playtime, they are labeled "not ready" for school or immature. They are failures at 4.
    I am tired but I refuse to give up.
    This weekend I am once again spending time thinking how I can make the lives of my students exciting in my class without incurring the wrath of the suits.
    As long as I am on the right side of the grass I will continue to advocate for my students.
    Your voice has renewed my spirit.

  124. Bridget October 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Mr. Kuhn, I became a huge fan when I heard your Alamo speech the same day I stood with my fellow teachers on Louisiana capital steps to try and stop our legislators from voting on the disrespectful laws that our governor imposed on our teachers and students under the farse of choice. They refused to hear our voices and voted to destroy education in our state. Your Alamo speech was what keeps me going. I go back and listen to it when I feel discouraged. Thanks for fighting our fight and having the courage to say what many teachers feel they can't. Everyone needs to join together and send a letter to our president on October 17. There are over 3 million of us. Let's be heard.

  125. chemtchr October 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Wait a minute, John. You just turned your self-righteous middle class wrath on the mothers of the children you think you're defending. Here's a lesson from mother nature for all you fire-breathing patriarchs on all sides of us:

    You can't shelter a child if you won't protect its mother. Mammal babies can't develop or thrive or even live without one. We are working ourselves and worrying ourselves to death for our kids. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/us/life-expecta

    White women without a high school diploma are dying 5 years younger than their big sisters were in 1990. Congratulations on ending welfare as we know it, and forcing poor mothers to learn the responsibility of hard work.

    I taught pregnant and parenting teenage girls in Roxbury, MA, from 1985 to 1990. I saw crack invade the inner cities, and I saw young girls who had been cast into the pit of despair invent love, and emerge with their babies in their arms, alive and hopeful, with their diploma or GED.

    Defend them, if you want to fix america's parents. It's the parents who could tell YOU what they long for to nourish their children: time, and shelter, and safety, and other parents for support and friendship, sitting alongside them with their own babies, to reawaken the ancient developmental dialog that creates a new human self.

  126. Mike A. October 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    I am the husband of a teacher, and my late wife was a teacher as well, until she had to take a medical retirement. Aside from the statement that all teachers are waving the white flag, this article is right on. Parents have, in general, abdicated their roles as disciplinarians and as models for behavior; the result is that children model their behavior on what they see on television, in the movies, and in their peers.we all get to see the outcome, and it is decidedly unlovely.

    This isn't going to change quickly. Our society desperately needs parents to pick up the load, though, while we still have a society. If television and the movies were to present less unattractive models, that also would be good.

  127. Angelese October 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    I am a first year special education teacher and I am exhausted. I NEVER in a million years thought it was going to be this hard to engage the students.y biggest class has 8 students at he moment yet it feels like I have 90 students who don't understand or remember a single thing that I say from day to day. I totally agree that the parents need to step up and help teach their kids some character values. I cannot do it alone!

  128. Catherine Pavlovich October 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    I am so sorry to all of the teachers who are having such a terrible experience. I have been at this job for over 22 years and have seen it all. I teach at a Title 1 school by choice and there are so many amazing things happening! Please don't listen to the people who are blaming you and making it impossible to educate our children. You do make a difference- sometimes you are the only one who can. You may not realize this now, but in another 10 years, when your students began coming back to tell you how much you meant to them and to volunteer to help you in the classroom, you will be humbled by how critical your presence and caring was. Don't listen to those who don't know you, your profession, or your students. The other day, a new postman came into our school and I overheard him ask "What's up with this school? Everyone looks happy. The children are smiling." Listen to him.

  129. Dave October 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Brilliant. One of the most comprehensive, truthful article I have ever read about our crumpling society and its effects on education. Beautifully done.

  130. David Eckstrom October 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    John Kuhn, when you need a new physics teacher in your district, please contact me. I'm not fond of the heat, and, yes, after 17 years in the business I am tired! But I would move to Texas in a heartbeat if I knew my boss was in my corner. Bravo!

  131. Jne October 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    Yikes! This is harsh, but often true. While many, many parents in the US work very hard to be sure their children are well cared for, that is not always the case. Other parents are unable to raise their children with high expectations of themselves and others, along with a healthy measure of respect and gratitude for teachers. Their children are not eating healthy food, not sleeping in a clean bed, and not receiving the love and guidance a child needs in order to thrive. Until we, as a culture, work to fix that, it's unrealistic to expect teachers to be able to do the same.

  132. Guest October 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    I’ve been teaching for 5 years and absolutely love working with students, however; I am soooooo burnt out. We spend too much time “setting up” our books and plans so it appears things are aligned. Very little time is spent teaching how to implement the things that need to be done. The time is spent instead showing how to make the plans and books “look” like they are aligned. No-one cares about the awful issues the students have at home that keep them distracted, such as homelessness, hunger, molestation, and other abuse. We’re merely told that we have to get them past it and send to the Guidance Counselor or Family Counselor. Our Guidance Counselor is tied up with so many non-guidance duties that she does not have the time to spend with the students. Our Family Counselor can only see billable students (on Medicaid) regularly and anything else is considered pro-bono. They do not see pro-bono students much at all. Students are bringing knives, razorblades, etc. to school and get nothing more than a one day suspension. The students fight and are often disrespectful to the staff. Often parents are called with little to no change in behavior. The students have figured out that administration is merely going to give them a “stern talking to.” Our saving grace is developing a relationship with our parents. Our problem is that we often can’t get hold of a working phone number to reach anyone. Our students are tested too much and are just passed to the next grade whether they deserve it or not. As a result, each year I can count on having several students reading on a kindergarten/1st grade level…I teach 5th grade. We’re told to differentiate our teaching, but the state test that they take isn’t differentiated. They fail miserably and become so discouraged as a result. This is only the tip of the ice-berg. There is so much red-tape and hoops to jump through that is seems that very little time is spent teaching. I know without a shadow of a doubt that it takes a special breed of people to stomach teaching. Everyone can’t do it and we have very bitter teachers that should have long been gone, but need a job. The problem with education is a complex cornucopia of issues to lengthy to even encapsulate in an article, but this article is quite refreshing.

  133. ADT October 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Phew! Looks like I dodged the bullet and feel fortunate John Kuhn doesn’t teach at my daughter’s elementary school. With a belief and attitude as he expressed in his article, you have to wonder the impact it has on those he teaches. I know teachers work hard as I witness helping out in my daughters class (BTW, there are two parent volunteers each day in class at my daughter’s public school….boy we sure are uninvolved in what happens in the classroom, huh?) and I do believe they deserve good pay and benefits – they have such an important job! However if you feel the way John does about what is going on in your schools as a teacher, LEAVE and find a different job – no one is making you stay there. As a parent, I don’t want you there if this is your belief and attitude. Even thought I am not a teacher myself, I’m certain there are more would-be teachers out there willing and able to approach it with a different frame of mind and attitude.

    • what? October 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      Not everyone teaches in a school setting that you described, where there are 2 parent volunteers in every classroom, every day. Continue to be fortunate that this is the case in your child's situation, but don't be so naive.
      I have encountered some wonderfully supportive parents in my teaching career thus far. However, I have also had the misfortune of dealing with parents who were not-so-supportive, to put it nicely. Imagine what that does to someone who is already exhausted after choosing to put in 12+ hour days to ensure that the students are getting the best education possible.

      At the most, all we're asking for is a little bit of respect for what we do. And, if you can't be supportive, then get out of our way.
      I wish I had the luxury of telling such parents to "LEAVE and find a different job….I don't want you…"

  134. […] Kuhn (@EducatorsRoom) has written on his blog, The Educator’s Room, a post titled “The Exhaustion of the American Teacher.” What he write so totally describes what has been a major topic of conversation among my […]

  135. Mar October 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    There isn't enough money to pay me to forget the years I taught but now that I am retired there is not enough money to get me back in the class room. I have many retired teachers friends and one thing hit me, once retired they all look healthier and younger, stress is a killer. In Illinois our politicians are busy trying to figure out a way to cut our pensions because they did not put their share in over time and now we have a terrible pension deficit. No social security by state law and few on Medicare we are now dishonored by those we taught. Bad teachers? Bad administrators who don't fire them. Unions protect us when we do well. This man needs to be Secretary of Education. Only one problem, you can't fix bad parents so teachers just soldier on the best they can but pay them well, give them manageable class size and don't blame them for all of society's problems.

  136. anathem device October 6, 2012 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Teachers are heroes laboring under impossible pressure from all sides. It's a miracle anyone will take the job.

    When things are not working, teachers, especially those in public schools – the vast majority, have little to no authority or power to do what needs to be done, whatever that might be. That's one of the most stressful situations for any human being.

    Unfortunately, that's how most of us feel regarding our employment. We are afraid to change jobs, to start businesses, to lose our health insurance, etc., etc., etc. And in a myriad of ways, that is reflected in our children. We all go home and watch the television, surf the net, overeat, spend beyond our means, take drugs — whatever our personal numb-out strategy is.

    And while we do that, more and more of the value of our labor is accumulating as wealth for fewer and fewer corporations and their major owners. How much of the middle class has to vanish before we do something about it? I don't have an answer.

  137. kaplans6 October 6, 2012 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    I agree with many of the things Mr. Kuhn states and he states them so well. The problem is that we haven't named what happened to those Moms and Dads that they are unable to discipline their children or do the countless other things necessary to raise responsible, respectful, organized students. Why weren't they taught how to raise children? Why is it that they don't know? Is it television? Is it poverty? Or is it capitalism in all its selfish forms? There is no reason to think that those parents just decided to be irresponsible or whatever. We need to look at this very deeply. And make very deep changes in this society.

  138. Mary-Helen Rossi October 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    Can we take it the blame up a step to the pervasive culture of commercialism that’s been the overriding addiction of our culture for at least 2 decades? Can we begin to step back, tired as we grassroots Americans are, and simply not play? It’s only then that we’ll begin to find the time and energy to consider where we’re headed – and how to turn around.

    Once we’ve started to turn, we as a society can begin to ask the serious questions about education that no one is asking, and about the what constitutes a life worth living. Only then can we can begin to develop our atrophied personal strengths – and do the same for our children.

    As parents who struggled mightily against the prevailing culture when our daughter was young, we don’t think pointing the finger at the parents as the culprit does much good unless we also begin to give them the tools (and basic support as a community) they need to do their jobs better. As for teachers – I agree with about 98% of all you said and, at the same time, believe that if you had more time/energy to stop and consider what you’re doing you’d be able to creatively find your way out of this trap.

  139. Margaret October 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    I started teaching when I was 21. I just turned 56. I am not tired. I am exhausted . My heart is heavy thinking of all of the teachers I will leave behind. I think that no teacher should be left behind.

  140. Jeff in MA October 7, 2012 at 3:16 am - Reply

    I am a physics teacher in a 75% low income urban public school. I did not like this article.

    It’s true. I do feel tired–probably more so this year than last, but it’s my own doing. I made my physics course rigorous, fun, relevant, and achievable by every single one of my students. It has been three years since any student has failed my course. (Not that I just give out passing grades. I motivate my students to work, and to keep at it until they succeed. I regularly get emails from my students thanking me for how well I prepared them for college. See my blog entry on “Tough Love” at http://www.mrbigler.com/blog/2012/04/16/ ) My reward is that more and more students have signed up for my course. This year, I have an average class size of 33 in a classroom designed for 24. The reason I feel more tired is because I manage my classroom by sheer force of personality, and this takes significantly more effort with 33 students than it does with 20 or 25. So I’m tired, but I don’t mind.

    Teaching is fun, at least for me. I love what I do. I love my students. It has been years since I’ve yelled at a student. In fact, I teach my students how to manage their other teachers and administrators–how to display appropriate respect, how to de-escalate a situation ( http://www.mrbigler.com/blog/2011/11/18/ ) , and how to communicate their account of what happened in a non-confrontational way. These skills will come in handy some day when they need to manage their bosses. I teach physics with real life problems and situations, and plenty of demos, labs, and hands-on activities.

    The reason I didn’t like this article is because it’s nothing but complaining and finger-pointing. Teachers love to complain. I understand this–I love to complain too. But complaining doesn’t fix anything, and it alienates our potential allies. Blame is even worse. In fact, “fault” is a swear word in my classroom ( http://www.mrbigler.com/blog/2010/10/18/ ), because any statement with the word “fault” in it serves only to make people feel bad and take energy and focus away from solving the actual problem. If we focus on talking about what will work instead of complaining about things that don’t, people will start to listen.

  141. Richard October 7, 2012 at 3:57 am - Reply

    I agree. Part of the problem and a serious part of the problem is that there is simply no time to teach anymore. We are being saddled with more and more curriculum expectations and less and less time to do it with a generation that really does not read. It is not that they can’t , they don’t. We spend so much time testing: national tests, state tests, and local tests. If there is a social problem, then our society hands it over to the schools to correct thus taking up even more time. I am tired, discouraged and wonder why I come back each year.

  142. Kay October 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    I’m somewhat new to the whole education reform debate, and am trying to understand all sides. Every time I listen to one side, I think “yea… I agree with that”. And then I’ll listen to the other side and find myself thinking “year… i agree with that too”. I feel like my head is about to explode.

    I was fortunate enough to grow up in a wonderful school district with wonderful parents, our standardized test scores are through the roof, most of us went to college, I never knew anyone on food stamps or welfare growing up, I only met one family of divorce growing up, basically I never knew dysfunction. About ten miles across town the public schools are horrendous — 20% of the kids are at grade level and 50% don’t graduate from high school, crime is rampant, welfare is abundant, drugs are everywhere, gang signs are painted on abandoned buildings and overpasses.

    MR. KUHN — what would you tell a parent that lives in that neighborhood that can’t afford to move to my side of town, but wants a great education for his child? What would you tell him if KIPP decided they wanted to open up a charter school in that section of town? I’m not being facetious, what would you tell that parent?

    • John Kuhn October 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm - Reply

      I would say to them–get in if you can. But I would then ask them to not forget about the 95% of kids who don’t fit in the lifeboat, and I would tell them to march en masse ten miles to the other neighborhood and shake the gates of that community demanding equitable funding for their public school, demanding wraparound services for kids and families who are withering and dying.

      I love how some readers look at this piece as “teacher complaining” when it is meant as a searing social criticism. Politicians and their systems fail to equip parents–and non parent American adults embrace the “I’m not a role model” ethos so determinedly–so that teachers are left holding the bag for these shattered kids. I’m not merely saying this is unfair for teachers. I’m saying it doesn’t work and is therefore unfair to thousands of kids who depend on public education. I’m also convinced that KIPP–if expanded to include all kids and robbed of its leverage of exclusivity–will get results remarkably similar to public schools that share it’s context.

      But by all means, get your child in the best school possible. And fight for a public system that includes the social supports necessary to get students to success, rather than simply pretending that teachers can do the impossible.

      • Jeff in MA October 8, 2012 at 3:45 am - Reply

        "Searing social criticism" is an erudite form of complaining.

        For anyone considering enrolling their children in a charter school, I'd suggest doing some due diligence. I'm in my tenth year of teaching, and I spent one of those years (two years ago) teaching in a charter school. The charter is one of several in the Boston area that follow a model similar to the one KIPP uses.

        Every aspect of teaching and grading is linked to the state frameworks and the high-stakes tests that go with them. As a result, the students become highly skilled at the low-level thinking that is the shortest path to success on high-stakes tests. I suspect that even if KIPP and its cousins were assigned students randomly from the local district, the students would still achieve higher test scores. However, I found that the charter school students struggled much more with high-level thinking than their traditional public school counterparts. When I would ask high-level questions that required them to relate two or more different concepts from different topics they had studied, not only couldn't they do it, they refused to try. They just stared at me blankly and said, "I have no idea. Tell me the answer and I'll remember it."

        By contrast, the students I have taught in traditional public schools, both before and since, are much more willing to take intellectual risk. If they can't come up with an answer, they will at least start from what they do know, and will get far enough for a Socratic dialogue to help them the rest of the way.

        I'm not the only one who feels this way. College professors have serious concerns about the high-level thinking abilities of today's high school graduates. Charter school students may have a higher likelihood of getting into college, but I think the traditional public school students who go to college are more likely to be successful.