This is a Facebook post by Julie Marburger, a sixth-grade teacher at Cedar Creek Intermediate School near Austin, Texas, that went viral. It reflects the views of many US American teachers and those who are aware of the extremely difficult conditions under which most work. Her post was picked up by the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, TX, among other media outlets in the US and around the world.
Don’t miss her update at the end in which she laments the “broken and inadequate” educational system in the US, the need to hold children to higher standards, and the need for more manners, respect, and kindness in a divided society filled with conflict and hatred.
Along with many others, I admire her brutal honesty. Her critique is spot-on. Sometimes, the truth hurts but it’s the only way forward. You can’t solve a problem until you recognize there is one.
I left work early today after an incident with a parent left me unable emotionally to continue for the day. I have already made the decision to leave teaching at the end of this year, and today, I don’t know if I will make it even that long. Parents have become far too disrespectful, and their children are even worse. Administration always seems to err on the side of keeping the parent happy, which leaves me with no way to do the job I was hired to do…teach kids.
I am including photos that I took in my classroom over the past two days. This is how my classroom regularly looks after my students spend all day there. Keep in mind that many of the items damaged or destroyed by my students are my personal possessions or I purchased myself, because I have NO classroom budget. I have finally had enough of the disregard for personal and school property and am drawing a line in the sand on a myriad of behaviors that I am through tolerating. Unfortunately, one parent today thought it was wrong of me to hold her son accountable for his behavior and decided to very rudely tell me so, in front of her son.
Report cards come out later this week, and I have nearly half of my students failing due to multiple (8-10) missing assignments. Most of these students and their parents haven’t seemed to care about this over the past three months, though weekly reports go out, emails have been sent and phone calls have been attempted. But now I’m probably going to spend my entire week next week fielding calls and emails from irate parents, wanting to know why I failed their kid. My administrator will demand an explanation of why I let so many fail without giving them support, even though I’ve done practically everything short of doing the work for them. And behavior in my class will deteriorate even more. I am expecting this, because it is what has happened at the end of every other term thus far.
I have never heard of a profession where people put so much of their heart and soul into their job, taking time and resources from their home and family, and getting paid such an insultingly measly amount. Teachers are some of the most kind and giving people I have ever met, yet they get treated so disrespectfully from all sides. Most parents can’t stand to spend more than a couple of hours a day with their kid, but we spend 8 with yours and 140 others just like him. Is it too much to ask for a little common courtesy and civil conversation?
It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to have a classroom of my own, and now my heart is broken to have become so disillusioned in these short two years. This is almost all I hear from other teachers as well, and they are leaving the profession in droves. There is going to be a teacher crisis in this country before too many more years has passed unless the abuse of teachers stops.
People absolutely HAVE to stop coddling and enabling their children. It’s a problem that’s going to spread through our society like wildfire. It’s not fair to society, and more importantly, is not fair to the children to teach them this is okay. It will not serve them towards a successful and happy life.
Many will say I shouldn’t be posting such things on social media…that I should promote education and be positive. But I don’t care anymore. Any passion for this work I once had has been wrung completely out of me. Maybe I can be the voice of reason. THIS HAS TO STOP.
UPDATE: Thank you, everyone for your words of support! I’m feeling a little shell-shocked over the attention I have gotten, to say the least. This is something I had no way of anticipating and have taken a few days to come to terms with.
I never intended to be a spokesperson for anything. I’m not the most qualified to do so, and I’m certainly not the best teacher out there, by far. But obviously my words, spoken in desperation that day, have struck a chord with many people. My Facebook Messenger inbox has been inundated with comments from teachers and others worldwide in agreement and support of my post.
If I could have the moment back, I might have said some things differently. For one, I would have pointed out that I have many amazing, hard-working, respectful students who show up every day and give their best and also many supportive, loving parents. For them I am thankful and hope I haven’t offended. But my frustration was also in their behalf. Because the actions of some are hindering their educational experience.
I believe this post resounded with so many because it speaks to three main issues we must address as a society:
First, the education system as we know it needs reform. It is broken and inadequate for our children.
Second, we absolutely have to hold our children to a higher standard of accountability in all areas. Inflating their success doesn’t raise self-esteem. If it did, we wouldn’t have the highest teen suicide rates in history right now.
Third, we as a society have to get back to treating one another with manners and respect. We are only going downhill with hatred and name-calling. No one wins when kindness dies.
I am a woman of faith and have been quite reflective this week on the good that I can bring to this world because of this experience. I have decided to (as soon as feasible) start blogging my feelings on all of the above and hope many of you will join me in the discussion. If we all work together, we can make the changes we need for our collective success