In industrial societies, we are led to believe that when one plays by the rule, has gone to school, has acquired a higher degree, he should be okay. Indeed, many of us have done just that. However, the grass does not seem so green on the west bank of the river. Countless of times, I find myself teaching university students who find themselves quite undecided. The reason? What they would love to be may not be enough to guarantee a decent lifestyle. So, they linger on the choice until it becomes clear they’re reaching the make-or-break point. So, they feel they’re being forced to swallow their pride and crush their childhood dreams to make way for what seems to be a catapult for a life full of despairs.
Let’s face it; few of us can claim to be happy with their daily occupation, even when it is framed around what was learned close to heart. However, spending chunks of your time doing what you would otherwise prefer not to if you had the means—the financial means, that is—to manage your daily living, is a bitter pill to swallow.
A study came out this week on the Florida Times Unions reveals more than 50 % of professionals who enter the teaching profession in Duval County Florida opt out in less than 5 years. According to the study, this huge turnover is the direct result of undefined job descriptions, dreadful accountability, and lack of professional and moral supports from their superiors. Who is the biggest loser in this whole trivia? The students, of course. But also it is a psychological blow to these young professionals who have invested so much in time and money and who have sacrificed early ambitions to make the vow of poverty when they decided to join the teaching profession.
This may sound an irony when I use the word “poverty.” But, it’s true. Teachers are the least paid among professionals in the job market. Yet, they seem to be the ones everyone loves to hate. With all intellectual probity, there are some teachers that should not have been allowed to stand in front of innocent children to teach. This number by all accounts is quite insignificant, comparing to the overwhelming majority of teachers who are authentically engaged.
Trashing teachers have become a lucrative commodity for conservative politicians out of steps with mainstream reality. Teachers are “great,” only when they can be used as ploys in the political debate. It is about time that teachers get the recognition they truly deserve.
Note: Dr. Ardain Isma heads the Center for Strategic and Multicultural Studies (CSMS). He teaches Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of North Florida (UNF). He is a novelist and also chief editor for CSMS Magazine. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org