This nation is facing a massive teacher shortage, but instead of digging into the root of the problem and working to solve it, our local, state, and federal governments are doing what they always do: slapping a bandaid on the problems and hoping they’ll go away.
In the last year, Florida enacted the Military Veteran Certification Pathway that allows veterans with some college hours to immediately become a teacher. That veteran is given 5 years to earn a teaching certificate AFTER he or she has already taught. That means if a veteran teaches high school, he will have taught roughly 1,000 students before even becoming certified.
I’m not sure how being a veteran prepares a person for teaching. A veteran might have conflict resolution skills or be a leader, but that in no way makes him or her an educator. And certainly not of children. But Florida seems to think that anyone can walk in off the streets and take good care of their kids – educate them, nurture them, motivate them, teach them to love learning, work with special needs children, handle discipline – the list goes on and on.
This morning I’m reeling after speaking to a teacher friend in another state. She is in her final year, after years of watching the decline of public school education. She’s told me stories about not being able to give zeroes when a student turns in nothing, about not being able to hold kids to deadlines, about having to tolerate horrible behavior because administrators don’t want to deal with parents. But today she told me something that has my jaw on the floor.
She has gotten word that a new student who identifies as a specific animal – yes, you heard me right – will be given accommodations to support her animal-like behaviors. This student walks on all fours, wears a stuffed tail, and needs a special place to defecate because “animals don’t defecate in toilets.” She hasn’t seen this with her own eyes, and the county in which she teaches will not confirm it in writing, but she has it on very good authority.
And honestly, it’s not much of a stretch considering the slippery slope we’ve seen in recent years, where we bend over backwards to accommodate anything and everything. The public school system is in a bit of a pickle. It must, by law, serve everyone, and if a student has special needs, those needs must be met.
In this case, however, it seems that we have a student suffering from delusions and in need of in-patient care and attention. The public school system can in no way provide that for her. Imagine how the other students will react? Are they expected to accept that this behavior is normal and should be accommodated? Will more students jump on the animal bandwagon?
I can’t tell you how sorry I am for teachers. I taught high school for over 20 years and absolutely loved my students. I’d still be there now if not for my inability to continue to read hundreds of essays a week. I believe in the public school system, and I support its commitment for serving all students where they are.
But this nonsense has gotten completely, utterly out of hand. Teachers see it, they know it, they feel it, and they can’t watch it anymore. They want no part of it. So they are scrapping their college educations and their debt and the career they thought they’d have forever and they’re doing something – anything – else.
I left to write full-time. My daughter left to teach scuba diving. My friends took early retirement. One went to work at Home Depot rather than deal with another ridiculous policy that wasn’t in the best interest of children.
And that’s really what it comes down to. It’s gotten to the point where public schools are worried about everyone but the mass of students filling their classrooms. They’re worried about politics, parents, protecting everyone’s self-esteem, not making anyone angry. And in the process, they’ve destroyed kids and the quality education they deserve to receive.
Teachers haven’t been respected in a long time and have been paid poorly forever, but now we’re telling them that their degrees and years of experience mean nothing and that kids can be and do whatever they like.
We used to talk about the future of education being grim. Well, guess what? The future is here.