Monday, September 06, 2010

Snapshot of a profession

This semester, unlike last semester, the students in my M.A. seminar better reflect RU's traditional graduate student population. Whereas in my class last spring only three of my sixteen students were public-school teachers, of the nineteen students who showed up for the first meeting of my new grad class, only three or four weren't teachers.

However, no more than half of the teachers are employed full-time in their own classrooms (which probably explains why some of them are in grad school in the first place). As we went around the room doing introductions, I heard about students who, though certified, had been unable to find jobs; students whose teaching positions had been eliminated; students who had been relieved finally to find jobs as "permament subs"; and one student who, though he was downsized the year before getting tenure, counted himself lucky to have found another job right away--albeit at a high school 45 minutes from his home.

Unions aren't perfect. The public schools aren't perfect, and neither are their systems of promotion and reward. But this Labor Day I'm hoping for secure jobs for more of the many talented, dedicated teachers I know.


What Now? said...

A good reminder, as always, to be grateful for the job I'm so lucky to have! Good luck to your students.

phd me said...

And such sentiments are why you are so fantastic!

Anonymous said...

I'm curious why so many high school teachers would pursue an MA. It would not help them in promotions into high school admin. It would give them a modest pay raise and also would qualify them to teach AP. Just goes to show, when the economy is in the tank, grad school becomes a real popular option! Have a great semester.

Flavia said...

Anon: in my state (and I think in most/many?) an MA is required for permanent teaching certification. I believe there's a certain number of years after certification/after staring teaching full-time by which a teacher needs the degree.

It doesn't have to be in the subject a teacher teaches (it could be, for example, an MEd rather than an MA in English), but usually it is. Thus, we always have a considerable number of high school and middle school English teachers in our M.A. program--most of them taking just a class a semester, if they're fully employed, but it makes sense for those who don't have jobs to go full-time in the hopes that an M.A. would make them more competitive job candidates.

Sisyphus said...

I think that's actually not the case in most states (it's not true in Cali), and this post makes me sad. I certainly know a lot of California teachers who are un or underemployed who were working full time last year. Sigh.