Teachers Know What’s Wrong with America

The new school year is upon us. Just think how different our public education system would be if more educators sat on local school boards. What if half of our state legislators and representatives in Congress were former teachers and school administrators, instead of lawyers and millionaires?

Public school teachers see first hand the inequality among students. They see how privileged children arrive at school with advantages over poorer children that the best schooling can not remediate. They see how unequal access to quality health care plays out in students’ lives. They see how minimally paid parents are forced to work two jobs, leaving children to fend for themselves in the after-school hours, while well-paid parents who work 9 to 5 send their children to quality after-school care.

In short, they see that the injustices of race and class make a mockery of equal opportunity.

Teachers also experience, every day, the indignities that our society heaps on them: low pay compared to other professions, ridiculous amounts of paperwork and record-keeping, little control over what and how they can teach, and a lack of respect for their work from the general population. 

In short, public school teaching is a low-paid, low-status profession. Does anyone know a teacher, particularly a single one, that doesn’t have to work an additional weekend or summer job?

As a public school principal for 34 years in Columbia, SC, I know how little spare time teachers and administrators have during the school year for extra service. In the November 2018 elections, though, an extraordinary number of women threw their hats in the ring for public office, and many of them were elected to school boards, county boards, state legislatures, and Congress.

If you are a South Carolina educator who wants to make positive changes for students and for the teaching profession, you might consider running for elective office or applying for one of the many vacancies on public boards and commissions throughout the state.

South Carolina Women in Leadership (SC WIL) is standing by, ready to help you get started.

Ted Wachter was principal of Rosewood Elementary School in Columbia, SC, for more than three decades.

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