Why I Won't Discourage My Students from Becoming Teachers

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Mark Naison, a professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University and director of Fordham’s Urban Studies Program. He is the author of three books and over 100 articles on African American History, urban history, and the history of sports. He is also a co-founder of the Badass Teachers Association, an organization formed to resist corporate school reform and school accountability” systems that rely on standardized test scores for high-stakes purposes.

Every day, I get personal messages from teachers describing how their jobs have been turned nightmarish by tests, assessments, scripting and micromanagement and abusive treatment by administrators. When I posed the question here of whether things are better or worse for teachers than they were 10 years ago, well over 95% said they were much worse; many people said they were planning to leave the profession or were on the verge of being driven out.

So why, given all this, do I tell my students who want to be teachers that they should continue with their plans if they know what they are getting into and understand the powerful trends undermining the profession?

There are two main reasons I take this approach.

The first is that the scripting, micromanagement, surveillance, top down management and erosion of loyalty and job security that teachers are experiencing NOW are deeply established in most other occupations, especially in the private sector. As a teacher and scholar in labor history, I watched the nation's unionized industrial workforce lose their dignity, their power and standard of living in the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's while the rest of the nation stood silent, and saw Wal-Mart, with its abusive management practices and low wages, become the nation's largest employer, replacing General Motors, which once had that status. When that process was complete, I saw the Wal-Mart management style sweep through service industries, and in the last ten years have seen it invade public employment as city and state governments seek to privatize vital functions, break unions, and undermine worker pensions.

Here is the brutal truth: THERE IS NO OCCUPATION IN THIS COUNTRY WHERE YOU CAN AVOID THE BRUTAL MANAGEMENT PRACTICES CURRENTLY INVADING TEACHING! ...




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