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More and more quality teachers and administrators are resigning from positions they’ve held for years in the state of North Carolina. I suspect the same holds true for schools in many locations around the United States as education funding fails to meet the needs of children and those who teach them. Continuing to work for a state that does not respect the job we do every day seems like lunacy. Education resources dwindle while the needs of our children fail to decrease or fail to rise fast enough to keep pace with society. Many of us hold on for as long as we can out of love for what we do. Some of us flee toward other positions in education while others quit the profession altogether. People outside of the teaching profession wonder why we ask for more pay and more funding. Teachers get two months of the year off, so why should they get paid more? Don’t schools have enough resources? We used to just learn with paper and pencil, so why do we need all these new things to learn with?  

The fact is, the world of education is changing in ways that our legislators do not understand. More demands get placed on teachers than ever before, yet they get no more compensation for their time. We must create lesson plans that appeal to the learning styles of all children, keep data on every child we teach, keep our grades up more frequently so parents can view them more often, maintain websites, constantly check our emails, and then submit to mandatory state testing either every semester or at the end of every year. We want to teach, grow our students, and see the fruits of our labor pay off, but the weight of the positions we hold often take away from our family time and our leisure time. The saying goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Truer words have never been spoken, but we, as teachers, get far less time off during the school year than society can even fathom. This position requires more than 40 hours a week of work. Some of us work more than 50 hours a week in order to teach effectively. We work hard for our students. We went to school to receive 4-year degrees for a professional field and want compensation for what we do in turn. Teachers who get Masters in Education in some states get no more pay than those with 4-year degrees, even though they’ve paid to hone their craft for the good of the children they teach. So why do we need more pay? The same as any other job out there–we want compensation for blood, sweat, and tears.

Why do we request more funding for education? With the rise in the use of technology, the attention span of our youth has decreased remarkably. This means that simply expecting students to sit in their seats for hours and learn is no longer a possibility. The rule of thumb given to us is that we should expect one minute per year of age plus one from our students. If you teach middle school, that means most students cannot “sit and get” for more than 13-14 minutes. All said, a great majority of our students cannot sit for longer than 10 minutes. We get what we can out of students, but they no longer learn through text books and note-taking. Children require interaction. They learn best through use of technology, manipulatives, and graphic organizers, but a lack of funding for education prevents us from providing these now necessary resources to our students. Administrators do what they can do find money little by little for classrooms and teachers write grants to obtain more. We know what our children need, but our government seems not to, so we make do with what we’ve got while expectations grow more and more steep and attention spans grow shorter. Why do we need more funding for education? I answer with another question. Aren’t the future leaders of our country worth it?

Why do children need all these new things to learn with? Why don’t we just make them use paper and pencil to learn like we used to? In a world with increasing use of technology, why would we resort to paper and pencil learning? Our children need to adapt to a world that will require them to know 21st century skills. The 20th century demands of writing everything out by hand no longer applies to today’s world. If we want innovative thinkers, we must foster their creative growth. Knowledge alone does not make a leader. It’s innovation, creativity, tech-savviness, and quick-thinking that makes leaders today. If we want to grow robotic students who do not know how to think for themselves, we can continue to lecture at them. If we want future adults who can do more than our competing countries, we must teach them to think for themselves. Paper and pencil learning does not create the kind of leaders we need in tomorrow’s world, so why insist on the continuance of this type of learning?

All we ask of our legislators is that remember the changing times when considering funding for education and that they consider the work put into teaching our children. We ask only that our children get adequate provisions and that we, too, get taken care of. If not, wonderful new teachers may come in, but teachers who are truly good at their jobs and who have honed their crafts will continue to leave. And teachers don’t just leave because of lack of compensation but because of the heartache that comes with seeing our children struggle to learn with less than they should be provided and bigger class sizes than what makes sense for their ages. Don’t allow education resources to dwindle farther than they have already. Give our children a chance to learn and our teachers a chance to rest easy at night knowing that he students they love will get what they need.


Speaking of money, help a teacher out by donating money on Donor’s Choose, would ya?

Teresa Cooper is a 30-something divorced mom and teacher from North Carolina. She has a Masters of...

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