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No Respect for Teachers

In Issue:

100 years ago ribbonSchool-teaching is the most beggarly profession in the United States. No other calling that is presumed to require anything like the same amount of training and ability is so ill-paid. No other calling that is presumed to require a considerable mental discipline and development is held in such low regard or is so little supported by public admiration. No other learned calling except the ministry is pursued under conditions that involve so much humiliation. But, of course, the real victims are millions of prospective citizens, particularly in the country, on whom we are palming off a dastardly swindle.

—“School Victims,” Editorial, April 6, 1918

This article appears in the March/April 2018 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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  • Well, things have improved overall for teachers since 1918. This feature, undoubtedly true, is in part shocking, and other parts not. One of the problems with teachers today is that tenure makes it almost impossible to fire lazy or even downright bad teachers that WOULD be fired in almost any other profession. Instead. they get put on paid administrative leave for awhile, then placed in another school.

    Teachers should have job security, but so should good, hard working people otherwise. They need to viewed on an individual basis though. At one time the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was one of the best in the nation, today it’s ranked as one of the worst. The fact is (frankly) that a high percentage of the students and their parents speak Spanish, Farsi and every language except English. Given this and what I’m about say, partially explains it.

    The system has allowed this to happen, giving these people more rights, benefits and advantages over English speaking Americans born here. My heart goes out to good teachers trying their best against all odds to teach when they’ve been forced into the role of babysitting a room full of brats with no discipline (or sleep) at home.

    I know an attractive teacher (45) that told me outright she’s DONE with teaching 5th grade at the end of the 2017-18 school year last November. Kids up all night long with so-called “sleepovers” playing video games with the parents allowing it and not getting sleep either. Neither of us can fathom this—at all.

    She said when she was that age visiting friends would ride their bikes home from outside play come dinner time, and that was the end of that day’s playtime. I said mine was the same way. Dinner, homework, some TV time, then bedtime by 8:30, 9:30 Friday and Saturday evenings.

    She advised too, half these kids’ lunches consist of a bag containing a diet soda can, a bag of chips or Grandma’s mini sandwich cookies mainly seen in vending machines. Worse still are the lunches with Rock Star and Throttle cans! Oh yes, she has to do a LUNCH BAG CHECK, and switches out the toxic drinks with bottled water from Costco whenever possible. A good teacher driven out of her profession, at least with the LAUSD.

    In the months since though, I’ve encouraged her not to give up; to get in with a private school, and she’s now got a couple of good prospects for summer school and a regular teaching job for the 2018-19 school year. She thanked me for my letters on her behalf. Let’s hope her faith in teaching will be restored. If not, she’ll find something better.

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