The consolidation of schools in the 1950s changed the role of teachers. Before the process of establishing humongous school districts, schools were under the local community's control. Schools were small, neighborhood facilities. In many rural communities there were even simple one-room schoolhouses.
Teachers were an integral part of the community. The pay was low although the job gratification and respect were high. Teachers knew their dedication made a significant difference in the lives of the community.
Today the pay is higher but it does not compensate for the demeaning lack of administrative support, student and parent support, orderliness and freedom of teachers to do their best in the school. Many idealistic teachers who want to be a positive influence in the lives of their students are similar to the teachers of the past. The difference is the culture has changed, placing unreasonable and time consuming paperwork demands that interfere with the nurturing and creative ability to meet student's individual needs. Modern teachers are finding it almost impossible to guide students to be better people.
Modern teachers are executors of a rigid curriculum that has been developed by committees in state capitols directly manipulated by Washington, D.C. bureaucrats. The miniscule local teacher input into the developing of the Common Core has eroded the idealism that brought them into the field of education in the first place. Teachers have lost the professional discretion necessary to be effective teachers. They have been demoralized.
No professional lawyer or doctor can function at a high level when their hands are tied to do what they know they should do for the client. We are witnessing the phenomena in the medical profession under Obamacare. When a decision to treat a patient is dictated by a Washington, D.C. bureaucrat's specific rules, diagnostic schema and regulations, the doctor losses his power to perform necessary procedures and tests that he knows are necessary to maintain the health of the patient.
Teachers have been in the same boat for a longer time having the responsibility of being a teacher without the power to make the proper decisions. They cannot spend time to teach the troubled student or challenge the advanced one. They must teach to the test script and complete the daily avalanche of forms or be terminated. They have been reduced from teachers to disseminators of politically correct information approved at the highest federal level.
Teaching is an art. The teacher practices teaching like a doctor practices medicine. Both learn strategies and techniques that work with different types of individuals. For a teacher to be effective she has to be an applied psychologist, role model and character developer not a person who auditions as a reader of test protocol and is forced to document her every move.
All dedicated teachers want to reach all of their students. They do not want to sacrifice some or most to reach an arbitrary test score that has been set for political reasons.
Too many teachers have to sell their souls in order to continue as teachers. They have been relegated to being high-priced clerical workers. Although the teacher knows her student's assets and deficiencies, she has to ignore them. She has to follow her administrative directives, spread educational babble to the parents and turn her back on numerous students.
The majority of teachers realize most students have the potential to be excellent ones. They are not allowed to address the academic and social issues under the stringent time guidelines that have to be met or else.
Teachers can be innovators helping children to become better students. These dedicated teachers are paying a high price. They understand admonishment by administrators will occur when not complying with the administrator's dictates. On the other hand, the downside of appeasing the school's administrative personnel is the pain of seeing the faces of students she did not help.
Teachers are between a rock and a hard place.
Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program in Spring Hill. You can visit Dr. Maglio at www.drmaglio.blogspot.com.