Teaching shouldn’t be the worst job on Earth, writes Elena Silva on The Quick and the Ed, responding to an Education Week commentary by Teach for America veteran Kerry Kretchmar, who’s now working on a doctorate in teacher education.
Kretchmar starts out by recalling her first year teaching 32 kids in a rat-infested South Bronx basement. This is exactly the type of call-to-action that attracts young well-educated service-minded people to make a difference in the lives of poor children.
. . . the problem of public education – reforming teaching in particular – is not solved by describing the horrors of teaching in the worst schools, or by convincing individuals to join the cause. It will be solved by changing the conditions of one of the most complex occupations, and the largest public service workforce in the nation– most comparable in size to the U.S. military, so we don’t have to try so hard to convince and compel people to be great teachers.
Every week I’m exhausted to a level of exhaustion that, before four months ago, I did not know existed.
And, yet, “the hardest job I could ever imagine” is “also incredibly rewarding. The feeling I get when my students learn something, or remember something I taught them, is priceless.”
Raising pay but allowing horrible working conditions will not persuade good people to stay in teaching.