As a teacher I have heard many theories and conclusions as to why New Jersey is in the "mess" that it is experiencing. As well, I have also seen assignments of blame attributed to teachers, their unions (which for the most part represent the teachers) and other public sector employees. It appears that it is easier to vilify a sector of the population than to unite and use our best talents to formulate sound and humane solutions.
Amazingly, I have not heard nor am I aware of much blame assigned to the policy makers, "movers and shakers," of the past (regardless of administration or political affiliation). It appears, in my opinion, that the focus is on getting the teachers to cede the few incentives that were adopted to legitimize the profession in our most recent history.
Totally, I agree that "If one suffers, then all suffer." I think it would be impractical to assert and maintain that there should not be any compromise, whatsoever. Compromise is one thing, but "scapegoating" is something entirely different. I have a very simple definition of scapegoating from Wikipedia: Scapegoating is the practice of singling out one child, employee, member of a group of peers, ethnic or religious group, or country for unmerited negative treatment orblame. It appears that New Jersey is being "united" against and at the expense of the teachers. The very people who have supported, inspired and motivated so many in New Jersey to become scientists, lawyers, teachers, nurses, technicians and so much more, are being treated as an "enemy of the State." They are, in fact, builders of the State!
There has been a very negative, beligerent and intolerant mood created in the "Garden State." A mood that fosters dishonor, ingratitude and "destruction." I am amazed that after much has been done to ligitimize the field of education in New Jersey and the United States that so much is being done to undermine it in the current decade. Historically, teachers have served as a backbone for any nation that wants to compete in the world stage. Without the knowledge and dedication that teachers possess, a city, a state, or a country will not advance in the manner that will be significant enough to make it a viable resource in the world community.
This is not a simple subject, I know that. It is not a subject that should be treated carelessly or with frivolity. When one decides to address teachers, professionals whom so many children look to for guidance and solace, one must see to it that he or she does not undermine the very sector that serves many times as a hope and a source of consistency for so many of our youth.
When a child has what they perceive to be "injustice" at home they look forward to the "fairness" of the teacher. When the child has a drug addicted mother/father or both at home, he or she looks to the stability and consistency of the teacher, the professional. When a child feels hopeless and at times suicidal he or she gets hope when the teacher just shows care and concern, first thing in the morning. When parents threathen divorce or follow through with such an act, the child can often feel secure that he or she will find that teacher that is "always there" for them. I can go on with many more, but the point is clear.
You don't want to undermine the very people that serve significantly to keep the young generation, population, motivated and hopeful while they navigate the sometimes treacherous and uncertain roads to responsibility and adulthood. Most of our children have a high esteem for their teachers. When disparaging, careless and unfounded accusations are made against their teachers, it makes them even more insecure and distrustful of the "adult community."
There will be disagreements and that is a good thing. There will be heated conflicts, that's fine also. There will be accusations and a host of other unpleasant things. But most importantly, I ask that all of us really consider the long term effects on the teaching profession in New Jersey and the children who are served by its professionals.
Teachers have always been important to the community. Are they the most important people? No, everyone who lends a hand makes the community better by their contributions. Younger teachers learn from older ones. I learned a lot from senior teachers around me. Let's uphold these teachers and not treat them like a "disease" that we need to eradicate because others have wasted valuable resources on their friends and associates.
Let's be sensible as we address the issue of education reform and the budget crisis. Let's remember that we should not be shortsighted but consider the long term psychological impact of our actions and reactions to what goes on in the public. Let's remember the children who often find refuge in the positive interactions that they have with their teachers. Also, as we move forward with reform, lets see to it that licensed New Jersey teachers (young and old) are at the forefront in making recommendations for what will help in the classroom. Hopefully, the policy makers have been in the classroom recently or are working very closely with teachers, aids, parents who are "on the ground" and can give "real time" accounts of what the needs are in our schools and classrooms. Let's make sense as we try to save cents.
A little about Mario Depeine, Sr.
As an educator I get the opportunity to get a small glimpse of how our society is shaping up. Children come into the classroom with all types of perspectives. A lot of the perspectives are a result of their environment. Some of those perspectives reflect the home life or lack of. Some reflect the street life and some just reflect the media that the children are exposed to.
Middle School children are just starting out in life. You see how their characters and personalities are shaping up. Many can be molded or adjusted easily others are a lot more resistant to change depending on their circumstance.
I work in an urban district. While there I see many interesting and at times disheartening things. Hopefully my experiences as an educator can shed some light on what we can do to better prepare our children for the future.