Do US public school teachers ever feel degraded/ disrespected by parents, society or public officials?This is my experience. I did not spend much time being a teacher in a public school. The time I did spend, was spent in creating an art program in a rural area in which there had been no real art program. I think most of the parents saw my efforts as less important, but as something their children seemed to enjoy. There were no disrespectful parents complaining. The society in which I worked were mostly blue collar folks and undervalued the program while giving it little thought. The only public officials I dealt with were one superintendent and three principals.Therein lies the story. I had well over ten years experience as a teacher when hired, with non of that in public schools. I was hired at the same starting salary as the twenty-something year old new music teacher with no experience. I questioned the fairness when talking to the superintendent, and he encouraged me to ask the board to give me credit for all or at least some of my experience. I did, and the board asked him for a recommendation; he recommended they not grant the request he had encouraged. The principals were a mix. The very best was a wonderful woman named Betsy who was more supportive, encouraging, helpful, and just plain wonderful than I could ever have hoped for. Next was a male principal who disapproved of my allowing the students to move about the room, talk to each other as they created art, and generally be wonderful curious youngsters. He complained that the students were not producing "product" which meant the usual paper plate turkeys stuck to the wall of the school. He informed me that "You must let them (students) know who is the boss." Be firm was his method. The third principal was another male who showed no interest, nor complaint; he may as well not have existed.
Why I stopped teaching in public school and returned to teaching adults: As a public school teacher, I brought dedication, passion, and talent to my work. Societies response is to value the work of the multitude of caring, dedicated, and skillful teachers who in the vast majority of cases give their all to their students, as not truly valued. Over and over, you will hear complaints about the fact that there is a teacher's union. Why should professional workers who have traditionally been undervalued be looked down upon for joining together to attempt the prevention of that devaluing?
Teachers, one deduces, should not care that they be treated as professionals. That they have "their summers off," is tossed into the mix, without thought of the reality of the situation. To simplify, teachers are not valued; teachers do one of the most critical jobs society has, and are treated as if they were mere baby-sitters.
Thank you Marcia for the A2A!
Teaching is a job that everyone thinks they know a lot about because they were students once.
Students don't actually know everything about teaching, just like patients don't know everything about being a doctor, or floor employees don't know everything about managing. However, because everyone thinks they know about teaching, they feel that it is easy and no big deal. That leads to some disrespect.
There is also a culture among some in the US that is openly hostile towards teachers. Certain people want the money that goes to public schools to be funneled into private businesses so that they can profit. They have created propaganda that tells people that teacher unions are evil. That teachers are lazy. That public schools are horrible. That leads to more disrespect.
Many parents now feel that they should take their children's side no matter what. They assume that the teacher is just being mean to their kid. Other parents assume that all public schools are bad so they only look at private schools or homeschool. Some parents even fall for some homeschooling programs that claim an hour or two of work a day is equal to a full six hour day of school. They are basically the "diet pills" of education that promise all sorts of results without any effort.
However, this is not universal. There are parents who are respectful and there are public officials who want the best for all children so they are respectful to teachers.
The reality is that we need public schools. Societies that don't have a free education for all children have a very low standard of living. If the US wants to be a modern, developed country, then it will treat its teachers with respect.
In public schools, yes, they often do. Parents can be extremely defensive of their children, and prefer to lash out at the teachers when their children are misbehaving rather than admit that their kids should not have have acted out. In some respects, this could be because some parents view anything their children do as an extension of themselves-if the kids are doing something wrong, then that must be because the parents haven't been up to task, and so they prefer to blame the teachers instead.
This is only my own theory, but I think that jealousy may also play a part, on an unconscious level. A lot of people have very stressful jobs and hardly any vacation time, so there is some resentment for those who have a profession that grants you summers and holidays off, as well as a pension plan.
A better question might be, "Does ever a day go by when public school teachers do NOT feel degraded by parents, society or public officials?"