Would you recommend a teaching career to young people?

November 19, 2020 Marietta - Participants hold signs  during a peaceful protest rally at the Cobb County Civic Center on Thursday, November 19, 2020. The participants are among the growing number of CCSD staff and nurses who are concerned about how the school district is managing the spread of COVID-19 in its schools. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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November 19, 2020 Marietta - Participants hold signs during a peaceful protest rally at the Cobb County Civic Center on Thursday, November 19, 2020. The participants are among the growing number of CCSD staff and nurses who are concerned about how the school district is managing the spread of COVID-19 in its schools. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

A teacher put that question to colleagues. Guess what most replied?

A teacher friend posted this question on social media: “How many of you would recommend your child (or your friend’s child) go into teaching? I would not. Just curious.”

Most responses went something like this: No.

In explaining her impetus for posing the query, the teacher said:

I'm really not trying to pull a “poor teachers" here, friends. I am genuinely curious. I just had a student ask me this and for the first time in 15 years I said “No."

I didn't realize how much that would hurt my heart.

This kid is smart, funny, compassionate. He would make a great teacher, but he also takes things personally, has a BIG eye for injustice, and is not so good at following orders that he doesn't view as helpful.

I said, “You would better serve education by going into politics and advocating for teachers, bud." He said his mom said pretty much the same thing.

In writing about education policy in Georgia for 25 years, I’ve seen teachers riled up, such as when Gov. Sonny Perdue attempted to make student test scores count for 50% of their evaluations, or when, as part of the Race to the Top grant, the state considered asking kindergartners to evaluate their teacher’s effectiveness by marking a smiley face.

Those things angered teachers. I think their treatment during COVID-19 saddened them. Any joy remaining in the profession seems swept away by the bitter politics around the pandemic. Educators have always wondered how much they were valued and respected. The pandemic provided an answer.

As the virus persisted and spread, teachers saw parents demand educators show up in school buildings, even while many of those same parents were safely working at home. Angry mobs shouted down educators who stood up at school board meetings in metro Atlanta and pleaded for masks in their classrooms.

Teachers faced blame for faulty internet connections and for a lack of expertise in online instruction, something many of them had little to no experience with before March of 2020 upended the country.

Even when the delta variant created a surge of cases this summer and overflowed hospital ICUs, parents insisted they were promised a “normal” 2021-2022 school year, and they were going to have it, no matter the price.

Teachers returned this fall to expectations they would not only address COVID-19-related fears, insecurities and trauma in students but accelerate their classes academically. Somehow, education analysts, philanthropists and advocates decided this was also the perfect moment to call for a reinvention and reimagining of public education.

It should come as no surprise that when asked whether they’d recommend teaching, the answer increasingly is, as one teacher put it: “Absolutely not. No way. Not in a million years.”

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