In My Opinion: Society fails to respect teachers

column-gillian

BY GILLIAN D’ONOFRIO

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT COPY EDITOR

Most people have one teacher who has impacted their life in such an extreme way that they will never forget them. It is rare to find someone who cannot name at least one teacher who went the extra mile to help them, brought excitement into lesson plans or simply was always there if anyone needed to talk about anything. Teachers spend more time with students than most parents do, and undoubtedly make an impact in this time spent with the kids.

It is my senior year in high school and with college just around the corner the biggest question I seem to be getting is “what do you want to study?” When I say that I want to be a teacher, the response I receive is not as pleasant as it should be. I get bombarded with doubts: “they get paid nearly nothing,” “the school board treats them poorly,” “are you going to be able to tolerate the kids” and most upsettingly “why don’t you study something with math or science?” Receiving an education is the single most important factor in living a successful life, and although it is deserved, teachers do not receive the respect that should come with the vitality of education.

One of the main reasons why educators are not taken seriously is due to their low salary. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t value education as much as they value other departments, leaving school boards and teachers scraping money together to provide for their students. The average starting salary for teachers in Florida is about $33,000, a small percentage of what other professions begin at. It has also been noted that people who work the most unpaid overtime, are teachers.

Another reason why people fail to respect educators is because they do not realize that oftentimes, the work that these teachers are assigning is state mandated. Parents and students complain about the rigor and lack of creativity that today’s curriculum entails- everything that you are learning in school is to prepare you for standardized tests and the teachers get blamed for this. What people do not understand is that teachers have little control over what standards need to be covered. The curriculum is mandated by the county, which is overseen by the state. Yes, curriculum has become far more standardized than years ago, but that is because politicians who have never taught before are litigating what they believe to be important for students to be learning.

My older sister is in her final year at the University of South Florida studying Secondary English Education to become a high school English teacher. Just about every time she tells anyone what her major is, they make a face as if they pity and feel bad for her. They suggest finding a rich spouse because a teacher’s salary is so incredibly low. For those who are going into the field of education, this is a normal occurrence. People rarely congratulate those who are becoming educators; they never thank them for their commitment to the next generation of leaders.

The state of education is failing and people respect teachers less than they ever have. I hope that in some point in my career this changes. Teachers are some of the hardest working professionals that there are, and they prepare students to enter into college and the workforce. Without the help of a teacher, you wouldn’t be able to read this. Without the help of a teacher, you wouldn’t be able to get into your dream college to work toward your dream career. I am excited to begin my career as an educator, and I strive to change the perception of the field of education so that teachers are given the respect that they deserve.

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