Teachers are supposed to be dedicated individuals, devoted to giving more than they receive. Teaching is an unsung “profession.” “Public servants” are expected to go the extra yard, tutor “students” after school to prep them to pass standardized tests, and “voluntarily” agree to do other activities like chaperone a school dance, organize a school assembly, give an in-school workshop or plan and moderate a spelling bee for gratis.
Twenty-eight times during my teaching career I accompanied eighth grade classes to Washington DC, to Williamsburg and to Luray Caverns, Virginia working two eighteen hour days without receiving any additional remuneration. These “professional” extras come with the territory.
Teachers are expected to go above and beyond the call of duty. That means beyond the “unprofessional” responsibilities of cafeteria duty, early morning duty, office detention duty and monitoring the halls and bathrooms between classes duty. In education, “duty” means teacher exploitation by administrations and boards of education. “Duties” have little or nothing to do with education, and they are things that aides or parent’ volunteers could easily perform with little on-the-job training.
Duties require little professional ability, and they are a major factor in keeping today’s teachers unprofessional and subordinate to administrative fiat.
Faculty members must set good examples for the students by demonstrating the spirit of self-sacrifice for the good of the school and the betterment of the community.
Administrators always emphasize to teachers, “Doing extra is part of your professional responsibility,” they lecture at faculty meetings. “Now we still need three more teachers to volunteer for the Six-Flags’ Great Adventure’ trip. You’ll be getting back at eight p.m. Friday night. That’s not too bad. And we need another volunteer for the after school volleyball program and two more chaperones for the Halloween Dance.”
First of all, let’s get the record straight. Teachers are not professional people. They are school employees who are usually only told by administrators that they are professional when something extra or something unprofessional (a duty) needs to be done. Public School instructors follow administrative orders just like janitors, school secretaries, cafeteria workers and aides do. Faculty members have little choice in matters when assigned to extra non-paying unprofessional duties or administratively arranged professional expectations (Parent Conference Nights, before and after school boring faculty meetings and grade-level or department meetings, curriculum revision meetings, etc.). Teachers are generally treated like employees and not like they are genuine professional people.
Let’s cut to the chase here. A real professional person like a good doctor or a successful lawyer makes over a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. By that economic standard, not even school administrators are professional people. True...