Being a teacher is not worth it in Alabama…

My "boy" Evan with my boy Josiah!

My “boy” Evan with my boy Josiah!

I have taught for 11 years around the United States and now that I have moved back to Alabama it confuses me what happened to this state. Education is incredibly important in life. Hell, the reason we moved to Homewood, AL, is 99% the school system that is provided in this city. Being an educator, this belief has been at my core since starting my career. Now I see the end result and getting out of this system is my main priority. The system is broken and I do not think anyone knows how to correct it.

My wife made a comment many nights ago while she was talking to a friend and it was,”I am not longer teaching, I am just keeping control.” I will let you know why this is a huge concern for me. My wife since she was a child only wanted to grow up and become a teacher. That was her childhood dream! Most kids want to be rock stars, astronauts, police officers, or princesses; she wanted to become a teacher. I say that to let you know that hearing her make that statement means that someone who truly loves teaching is seeing that hope is falling apart. Between the two of us I am the dreamer and she is the realist. The reality is starting to set in and I am now aware that almost all hope is lost. Please take that with a grain of salt. I say that because, not to be arrogant about it, people like me are the ones who want to see a change and have seen enough that we know what should be changed. Yet, that is not the case when it comes to education. Like most jobs, it is not whether you are good at it or not, but more if you put in the time you will be promoted to your own level of incompetence. That scares because I seem to be stuck as a teacher.

No one has ever asked my opinions about education that could be because I have not risen to the point of anyone caring about my thoughts. I know you have to work hard to move up in life, but I feel that in education it is easy to move up not on merit, but on showing up everyday for a longer period of time than someone else. It is very apparent in watching where I have worked. It seems that my major flaw was moving around and wanting to see as many situations as possible. It is now clear that I should have stayed in one place and never moved. That is much easier said than done.

Much of what I see needs to be changed is simple stuff coming from someone who has a broader perspective. There is no way that I claim to know it all or most of it or even half, but I solve problems well and we need critical thinkers. The system is broken right now, so why not try some new things? Could we really do worse? I have encountered it many times in my career, I am not the smartest person in the room, but because I have been in education a smaller amount of time than someone else, my ideas are not as valid as someone who happens to have lived longer than me. In education we don’t reward good ideas and good work, we reward standard work and not doing something stupid enough to get you sued or fired. I have pushed myself to be better to help out society and schools. Teaching is something that I feel like I was born to do, but with all the dead weight around I am just getting in the way. This is why I am trying to leave the profession. Coming back is an option, but changing again is something that feels necessary. It has always been apparent that sitting still just grows moss and you lose your edge. I feel dull and need to sharpen my skills yet again.

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2 Responses to Being a teacher is not worth it in Alabama…

  1. Nicole says:

    Hi Eric,

    Sounds like the school system could use you! Is there a principal development track you could get on? Some school systems have this…

    Also – since you are a parent, it might make sense to go to the Board of Education meetings (or whatever the equivalent is in your area) and start making some good noise. If people like what you have to say, you may just get elected to the board. Not enough people care to take the time out of their day to make a change, but you apparently do. Don’t leave education unless you have another passion to follow. Utilize the knowledge you have from other areas and help educate your state!

    We have several parents at our school that have moved up the ladder and made a difference inadvertently simply by caring and putting in the time and research needed to make a situation better. Watch out that you don’t move into a non-paying role for too long though – as the system can suck you dry!

    N

    • erik batson says:

      Nicole,

      I appreciate the concern. I live in a school district that is the 3rd best in the state. That is the reason we moved to Homewood, rather than any other suburb of B’ham. I work in a district that is not one that my children will EVER attend. As far as the administration track, I got a degree in Texas and Alabama is not recognizing it because of a law they passed in August of 2010. That is one of my complaints, they are keeping educators from other parts of the country out of their system. I cannot move up and they want to take the same master’s degree over again, which we already paid $15,000 in Texas. I cannot justify that and redoing the same degree. What other profession does something like that, not recognize a degree from a college and a graduate degree at that. This hasn’t happened overnight and I have thought about this for a long time. Change comes, but Alabama does not want to change.

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