I’ve been seeing lots of posts lately about how the fight against Betsy DeVos and the “school reform” movement in general is “all about the kids.”
But it’s not all about the kids. And it shouldn’t be.
I’m a career teacher and have been a teacher educator for about 20 years now. I love kids, and have my own children for whom I want a great education. But education is not all about the kids–it also must be about all of the persons who work in and for schools. Teachers, administrators, bus drivers, school lunch workers, custodians, coaches, secretaries and other staff–everyone.
If we want schools to be healthy, sustainable public institutions, every person who works in them must be treated with dignity and respect. Schools and teachers can be “student centered” and teachers can still be treated as professionals; paid a decent salary; receive good benefits; and be guaranteed excellent working conditions. Because teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.
The narrative that “it’s all about the kids” erases the role of teachers and other adults in the education profession and makes it easier to advance policies that deprofessionalize the teaching profession (see: Teach for America, charter schools, canned curriculum, scripted lesson plans.) It also makes it easier to pay teachers less money, since “they are not in it for the income; they are in it for the outcomes.”
Newsflash: Teachers have mortgages, car payments, food to buy, utility bills, and all of the same expenses as anyone else. The bank isn’t really too interested in hearing about how I’m “not in it for the income” when your rent is due.
Expecting to be compensated fairly and treated like a professional doesn’t mean I don’t care about my students. It means I’m an adult, with a career that I’m passionate about, and that what I do is valuable, and important to society.
And there’s nothing to apologize for that.
[To read another “take” on this topic, click here…]