It was a rather trying year for teachers and other educators in public schools at this time of the pandemic. It is all a continuing reminder of what all goes into this job that most of us do not actually call a job, but maybe a calling.
And it makes me again ask that question: so what is the job description of a teacher?
Around seven years ago, then Sen. David Curtis delivered a rather uneducated response to a letter from a young teacher in which he outlined a close-minded viewpoint of the teaching profession.
Needless to say, it garnered quite a response from teachers around the state.
In a state where the teaching profession has undergone assault after assault from lawmakers, many in Raleigh pin their opinions of teacher and school performance on test results and financial bottom lines. They then craft policies that match those opinions.
Now along with new bills to further “deprofessionalize” the teaching profession, the Human Capital Round Table put out this proposal for teacher licensure and teacher pay.
So I want to ask a non-rhetorical question of these people (and actually anyone else working with DPI or PEPSC), what exactly is the job description of a North Carolina public school teacher?
This is by no means a loaded question or one that is asked to create a nebulous web of answers that would cloud the actual debate. But if public education is to be the issue that defines another session of the NC General Assembly which holds the budget hostage ove teacher pay, that decides votes in a huge upcoming election year, and that all people already have some sort of stake in, then what the role of a public school teacher in North Carolina might need to be more understood.
Is it to deliver curriculum and teach mastery?
Is it to help students grow into productive citizens?
Is it to “teach” the whole child – intellectually, mentally, emotionally, etc.?
Is it to get students to pass standardized tests?
Is it to keep students safe?
Is it all all of those things and much more?
Below is a screenshot from the statutes of the General Assembly concerning the “duties” of teachers.
They include a variety of “duties,” some more defined than others: discipline, “teaching,” reporting, provide for well-being, medical care, keep order, etc.
Now throw in some other factors and variables that have a direct effect on those “duties” like poverty, hunger, sickness, apathy, lack of resources, overcrowding, and respect for the profession. It makes those duties in the above statute seem a little more expansive.
So, what is the real job description of a public high school teacher in North Carolina that considers the defined duties, expectations, and realities of public educators? And are you willing to share that as a policymaker who makes decisions on how teachers are resourced, treated, and viewed? If not, then you might need to educate yourself.
And if you are willing, are you ready to hear from teachers the truth?
But after all the platitudes, accolades, and lip service that so many in Raleigh have paid to the teaching profession, every policymaker must ask him/herself, what is it really worth?