Dream big, unless you want to be a teacher

I recently went and saw the movie “Fame.”

You know, the “I’m-going-to-live-forever” film that follows aspiring entertainers as they make their way through four excruciating years of New York’s most prestigious performing arts school.

After watching almost two hours of dancers euphorically spinning and singers belting out lyrics to the hot beats producers created, I wanted to change my career.

In what I’m sure was a child-like tone, I told my movie gal-pals that I wanted to be a pianist, a songwriter, a ballet dancer, a director . . . and the list goes on.

But there was one profession I really didn’t want to be after the credits rolled: an educator.

If one thing is made clear by the end of the movie, it is that teaching does not equal fame. In fact, it doesn’t amount to anything worth being proud of.

After taking her students out for a night of karaoke and belting out a killer rendition of “One Week,” Ms. Rowan, played by Megan Mullally, is asked by an awestruck group of students (who knew teachers are good at what they teach) why she wasn’t on Broadway.

She explains in a sorrowful tone that auditions wore her out, essentially claiming that she just couldn’t hack it.

But “Fame” doesn’t stop after making the assumption that teachers only teach because they can’t make it in their field. Writers even go so far as having dancer Kevin Barrett, played by Paul McGill, almost commit suicide after his dance teacher Ms. Kraft won’t write a letter of recommendation for him and suggests he become . . . a teacher.

How appalling.

I don’t blame him for almost jumping in front of that subway train.

Why would he want to teach? Teachers aren’t exactly known for making substantial amounts of money.

After all, the first thing to get cut in any economic downtime is education. Just this year, Gov. Sonny Perdue mandated three furlough days for k-12 teachers and six furlough days for all professors teaching under the University System of Georgia.

It’s not like teachers deserve to make the amount that was promised to them when they signed their contract. They don’t work after hours or anything.

They don’t spend time after school planning, grading, or answering parents’ phone messages about why Johnny really didn’t deserve detention even though he technically did punch Sally in the face.

Recently, one of my friends who teaches high school asked me whether I knew of any minimum wage jobs. She explained she’d been trying to help one of her students find a job because that particular student was kicked out of her apartment. The student’s mom didn’t pay the rent and the teacher was worried her student wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in town for the last semester of her senior year.

Those teachers. They don’t deserve squat.

What they do deserve is higher workloads for the same amount of pay, administrators breathing down their backs because their class didn’t make adequate yearly progress, (even though students grew substantially over the past year), and parents complaining that their children should have been passed, even though they weren’t ready to go to the next grade.

And don’t even think about saying “thank you” to a teacher who helped your kid graduate. I mean, why bother? They won’t take it to heart or anything. After all, they only do it for the money.

So go ahead, tell your kids to dream of success. Push them to strive for fame.

But don’t expect them to get it being an educator.

Alicia Howe is a composition instructor and Georgia Southern Writing Project teacher consultant at Georgia Southern University.