Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Teacher's Thoughts on Oklahoma

PSA: This turns into a little bit of a rant at the end. I mean no disrespect to the people of OK, but this really brought home the current situation in my state and what is expected of educators. I apologize if I offend anyone. I thought about editing, but I did Pour My Heart Out, so...



I heard about it on facebook but it wasn't until yesterday afternoon that I actually had time to sit and watch coverage.

It brought me to tears.

I saw one teacher from Briarwood, I believe, the school where everyone got out safely.  She put into words the same thing I said here.  She cannot imagine being one of the teachers at the other school and not being able to give her students safely back to their parents.

I watched the interview with the couple in this photo.
Ledonna Cobb, Steve Cobb, Jordan Cobb, The Cobb Family, Moore Tornado, 2013 Moore Tornado, Oklahoma Tornadoes 2013
When I heard her initial account, I thought she must have been a teacher.  In fact, they were caught at the school  when they tried to pick up their daughter and she talked about wanting to get to her daughter but knowing she couldn't leave the babies... the ones she was lying on top of, because they didn't have their parents yet and it was up to her to keep them safe.

It's something I have my students repeat to me almost everytime we go over a rule or procedure: 

"It's my job to keep you safe, it's your job to help me."

Y'all, I've almost been there.  We had a tornado watch at dismissal earlier this year right after the dismissal bell had rung.  My class was gone and the children who wait for their bus in my room were there.  My son had made it to my room, but my daughter had not.  Children were scared and not with their classroom teachers.  When I realized we had time, I went and got my daughter, because I just couldn't not have her with me when I had my son. The adults were standing there waiting for the signal for us to get down as well and I knew I just needed to get her... you know what, she'd been in the enclosed breezeway. She was not as safe as we were.

Those poor babies were so scared that day.  And although I cannot professionally do this for all children, there are some I know personally... my pastor's daughter, the little brother of a friend of my son... who were all crying because they were scared and their big brother's hadn't made it to the bus room yet and then didn't know where they were, so I knelt down and kissed the back of their heads and told them it would be okay, because I knew their parents personally and hugs and such had been given outside of school as well.

I cannot imagine the horror of what those people in Oklahoma went through and yet I can.

At the same time, on the same day, in my state there is a bill before the Senate to cut our pay further.  We are already among the lowest paid teachers in the country.  Our cost of living step increases have been frozen for 6 years.  I, having only taught for three in this state, am not terribly hurt by this, but my sister has been teaching for 10 years and is paid as a fourth year teacher. Now they no longer want to give pay increases for teachers who get their Master's Degree and they don't want to give us pay increases if we obtain our National Boards, which have been equated to taking the Bar Exam.

Y'all I knew teachers were largely underpaid.  I didn't become a teacher to make money, but I do need to pay my bills. I have told you that I could not make ends meet without child support and I live modestly.  My only debt is my mortgage, which is small and my car which will be paid off within a year.  Good, gifted people who feel called to teach will walk away because they can't afford it and we will be left with people who couldn't find anything else to do, so they become teachers.  Is that really who we want teaching our children?  

I guess it is in my state.

You expect me to lay down over top of my students to keep walls from falling in on them. You expect me to put myself in between my students and a bullet ~ and I would, without thinking, about this I'm not complaining~ but you don't think I deserve to be paid enough to feed, clothe and put a roof over my own family's head?


Blond Duck said...

My relatives are in Oklahoma! Some of them had their houses destroyed. It's tragic.

The Dose of Reality said...

Rant away! It needs to be said. Like we said on FB, if Sandy Hook was proof that teachers are heroes, then Moore, OK certainly was. We should celebrate our teachers and pay them for the incredibly hard work they do. Well said.-The Dose Girls

Bev Feldman said...

I could not agree more. I worked in education several years and have many friends who are teachers, and it has just solidified for me how incredibly hard you work. Like you said, you don't go into the profession because you want to make a lot, but you definitely deserve to be paid fairly, and at least enough to survive (but certainly more).

I had not read much about the tornado, but after reading this I watched a video on the school that was hit. It is incredible what people will do in the face of danger, and I echo the sentiments of the Dose Girls about teachers being heroes.

ChiTown Girl said...

Amen, Sista!!

Angela Gilmore said...

You are absolutely right. I owe everything I am passionate about - music, film, poetry, writing - to the amazing teachers in my life.

And now teachers are actually saving kids lives! It's maddening how teachers are treated year after year. They are doing one of the most important jobs on the planet!

Shell said...

Amen. There is so much expected of teachers and yet the pay is awful.

I consider going back sometimes- because I really and truly did love being a teacher. But then I look at how I can do something that is less time-consuming and yet make more than I would as a teacher in this state. NC is especially bad. I remember going from teaching in NY to teaching down here... and realizing I'd have to teach for 10 years before I made what I had in my first year in NY. Ugh.

Angelwithatwist said...

I agree completely. As a parent I am irritated when people complain about teacher's pay then say oh they don't really want to teach they are in it for the money. Really??? So that is why they are scrimping in their own lives to make up the lack for the school system. What you do is create leaders of the free world.. that is more important than being a basketball star or anything else. It deserves much better pay.

Andrea B. said...

It's okay. You needed to say what you needed to say.

Well written. (hugs)

Aleta said...

My Mom just retired this year. She taught for 37 years. I respect teachers to the utmost degree. She loved her work but was ready to retire (mostly because she has a grandchild now :)

I couldn't agree with you more. When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher. I actually started college within the education curriculum. Then the head of the English department bashed high school teachers. It was the last straw for me - with the low pay, the ridiculous polities, the kids with no respect, the parents who think teachers are always wrong, ... the college professor, dean of his department was the final nail for me. I changed my major.

I sometimes regret it. I used to substitute for the teachers and I would help my Mom in her classroom. It would have been a natural step to take... I feel for teachers now though.... politicians are too much into it to prove a point, parents are constantly pointing fingers and children disrespect and kill... and for what pay.. for what appreciation...

God bless you. I want you to know that I respect you and appreciate you.

Ilene, The Fierce Diva Guide to Life said...

I think that every teacher should make enough money to take care of her own family well - especially since you are taking care of our children! You said what needed to be said. So AMEN.

Leigh Powell Hines said...

I so agree with you. I think our teachers do need to be paid more. It's one of the hardest jobs out there, and I don't think I really thought that until I became a parent myself. It's just not fair. The University system seems to pay well compared to public education, and it needs to be more equal. Early education is just as important as college, if not more.