My ex used to tease me that I have a cushy job at the college and shouldn’t complain, but as I’m sitting here in my office on a rainy Monday morning after spending most of the day yesterday grading some awful papers, I can’t help but feeling like this job is anything but cushy. I can only speak for myself, but personally, I got into teaching because I wanted to give something back to my community. I felt a deep and sincere calling to share my knowledge of language with others, and I truly believed that the ability to read and write was important for a society to thrive and innovate. I accepted the low wages and long hours because I believed in the nobility of the profession, and for the first few years, the feeling of satisfaction helped ease the burden of low pay.
Now, I truly feel like a buffoon and a sucker for attempting to give something back to a community that neither respects my contribution nor acknowledges its long-term importance. This current attempt to dismantle public education has so disgusted me that I no longer want to fight back. I want to walk away from this profession and encourage all of my friends to do the same. If this country doesn’t want professional educators, then survive without us. Let’s see how many generations can remain prosperous without the abilities to read, write, and perform basic arithmetic in a technologically sophisticated world.
For nearly 14 years, I’ve been overworked and underpaid, and when I hear politicians and pundits saying aloud that teachers overly compensated compared to the private sector, I want to smash something large and heavy. Engineers, accountants, architects, and nearly every other profession that requires equitable education make more than double what I earn. In addition to being underpaid, we get more and more duties dumped in our laps every year, and more and more of the onus for student achievement is placed on our shoulders. Then, as if that weren’t enough to make the job miserable, the students continue to get dumber, lazier, and more apathetic every semester, which strips away the small measure of fulfillment that used to come with seeing the light bulb moments.
Honestly, I’d rather work at hard physical labor all day and see some positive results at the end of the day than have this “cushy” job that just takes and takes and takes. When I’m at the building working, I feel good about myself and my efforts. When I’m here at the college, I feel as if I’m spinning my wheels in a futile attempt to reach people who see me mostly as their enemy to satisfy the political leadership that openly calls me their enemy. In short, I’m done giving back as an educator. I’m finished fighting the good fight.