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Public Statements

The Reality of a Modern Day School Teacher

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


THE REALITY OF A MODERN DAY SCHOOL TEACHER

Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Speaker, when the question is asked, other than a family member, name one person who has made a difference in your life, the most often answered response is that of a favorite teacher. This simple response speaks volumes about the influence that an educator has on the lives of a young person and the future of our Nation.

The education profession has long been known for inadequate pay but a high job satisfaction. Teachers have been willing to forfeit material gain for the joy of seeing the eyes of their students light up when they discover a difficult concept or when they grasp a new idea. We have long understood that teachers truly shape the world by their work, and their greatest product is an educated child.

Lately, though, the job satisfaction that brought so many teachers into the profession seems to have left the classroom. Unfortunately, much of this development can be attributed to No Child Left Behind. The joy of teaching has been replaced by the pressure-filled staff meetings where educators spend their time talking, not about how to help a child learn but, rather, their school's test scores.

Morale in the education world has diminished, and more teachers are at wits end.

Recently, Holly Lindsay, a teacher in Lindsborg, Kansas, told me of her frustration with her profession. She writes, ``I am a first-year teacher, and I am beginning to get very discouraged. I went into the teaching profession to help students learn and to encourage them to follow their dreams. However, I am finding that more and more of my time is spent preparing students for standardized tests. These tests do not prepare students for any career. They only teach students how to take a test. I am very disappointed with the education system right now. With all these tests, we don't have time to teach. It is also very frustrating when we have to prove our abilities with countless hours to show that we are highly qualified. In no other profession are there such lofty goals for their employees with such little benefit. I truly feel that the time and effort I put into teaching is not worth my while. No Child Left Behind is wonderful in theory, but impossible to carry out. Not every child is equal in ability, and no teacher should be expected to make it so.'

The number of teachers leaving the profession is exceeding the number of teachers entering the profession by 23 percent. With over 25 percent of our teaching force eligible to retire within the next 10 years, this young educator's thoughts should be a warning. Teachers that have been career educators are bailing out as soon as they can because they do not want to deal with the unnecessary red tape and the growing pressures that are being placed upon them.

Another staggering fact is that one-third of new teachers quit the education profession within the first 3 years of teaching. In my rural Kansas district, if we have to shut the doors on rural schools it will not be because of lack of students, it will be because we cannot find the teachers to fill the teaching vacancies.

Congress must be sensitive to the responsibility we hold in making educators want to walk out of the classroom and never look back. Congress needs to look closely at our role and the trends and make sure that we are not encouraging this situation by continuing to overregulate the classroom. We need to strive for improvements in our education system, but we must make sure that we are not legislating accountability simply for the sake of a sound bite. We must not take the joy and passion out of this noble profession by requiring things that are simply not possible.

This year, Congress is set to examine No Child Left Behind and potentially reauthorize it. While I voted against this law, I voted against No Child Left Behind, I look forward to being involved in the upcoming discussions about how we reform and change the education system. My hope is that we will look closely at the unintended realities that so many of our teachers face and will be willing to make the changes necessary to provide the policies that will help them succeed as they go about the business of educating our greatest asset, our young people, and fulfilling the jobs they so love.

http://thomas.loc.gov

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