"There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience." ~ French proverb
Last week I visited a local public school as battle weary teachers came crawling back from a very long and taxing summer vacation of travel and relaxation. They spent the morning telling about what they did over the summer, and how they were hoping for a classroom full of comatose, quiet bodies for the next year. One teacher asked where he could get a large supply of Ritalin. They were already beaten down and freely admitted that if they could earn as much in private industry, for the hours they worked in the school system, they would be gone in a minute. Very few of these teachers wanted to spend the week developing "lesson plans" for students that did not want to learn what they were teaching.
About mid day, I was sitting with a small group of teachers during one of their extended "lunch hours." The discussion centered on some of the uncontrollable students from the previous year, and how the teachers hoped that these students would not be out of reform school this year.
The "teachers" discussed how their insurance benefits were being cut by the school administration to the point where they might have to pay $2.00 a month for a total package with no deductible. One said they might as well not even have an insurance program. One teacher spoke up and asked how they could allow this to happen? Next, the "drama and voice" teacher asked, "Didn't the public realize how important it was for their children to learn about all the wonderful things in life he could teach them." He then pranced out of the room in a huff.
Now the discussion really got started about the lack of respect the community showed toward the "teacher." Another individual stood up and said that the parents had absolutely no idea what a teacher had to go through each day in the classroom. She said that the students were like wild jungle animals that she could not control, and literally feared for her life during every school year.
At this I asked, "If you teachers really feel this way, why do they work in the public schools?" Almost every one of the teachers said that it was for the "pay and benefits." Almost all agreed that they could not get an equivalent amount in private business.
I next said that I was under the impression that they were teaching because they were "called in life" to help build a better society. At this there broke out uproarious laughter, and the union representative said, "That is only for public distribution." They put up with these undisciplined, uncontrollable "illegitimates" for the money. (I substituted my word for his.)
I then asked why the students were so undisciplined and uncontrollable. He told me that this is all one could expect from what the teachers had to work with. He went on to say that teachers are only supposed to keep the
students "occupied" for a few hours each day, teaching them something would cost much, much more. All, but one, of the gathered teachers said they totally agreed with the Union Representative. The students just could not be controlled for what the community was willing to pay.
In the back of the room, there was a retired USMC (E-9) master sergeant, who had decided to teach after retirement. This individual was teaching world history classes. When the gathered teachers started expressing their fears and problems with controlling the young derelict students, this teacher stood up and said exactly two words in rebuttal to all the union and teachers' remarks. A silence fell over the room, and in a soft and very lady like way, she said, "Bull Spit" or something very close to that. She then went on to say that class discipline was her first job. After that, everything else was a piece of cake.