Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Work 2 Contract 2

It's an irony of our profession that working only what we are paid to work seems like an act of defiance. These past two Wednesdays are as much symbol as anything. Sure they serve as symbols to the District of all the uncompensated hours teachers toil. But they should also serve as symbols to ourselves. We are generous with our time, and the District, no District in Washington, could run effectively without all that extra time. But we need to also think about how always giving in the short term, the day to day, minute to minute decisions can actually hurt the profession over time. If we give without expectations we allow the legislature to continually pull resources from education, to invest less in the best investment in our society. We allow, even encourage, policy makers to try to do education on the cheap which ultimately dilutes all of our commitments. I'm not advocating not working hard. I'm advocating not letting our hard work come so cheaply that the profession becomes less attractive to those preparing to make important professional choices. We need to attract the best new teachers. Currently 50% of new teachers leave the profession in the first five years. We need to pressure the legislature into financial commitments to invest in education. If the legislature just held even in percentage expenditures to education over the last twenty years we'd have TWO BILLION more dollars available in the state of Washington.
What we ask for on these two Wednesdays is to imagine what it's like to be paid fully for our time. To reflect on what we are worth. To envision a future when our investment in kids matches our rhetoric of expectations.
Have a good time tomorrow. Arrive on time guilt free. Go home on time guilt free. Then consider what you want to tell policy makers, our board, our legislators.
Our work has value. We don't do service to anyone by allowing others to value it less.

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