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Switching to teaching

6/18/2014

Switching to teaching

I have not been a full-time teacher for more than 30 years, but reading the changes made by the Kansas Legislature and listening to teachers discuss these changes has stirred me to write.

Our Legislature apparently believes the old statement that those who can do and those who cannot, teach. This longtime attitude assumes those who teach could not achieve in any other area and at the same time, those who do achieve success elsewhere could be successful as teachers. I beg to differ. I know many who left teaching as a financial decision. Some might have been good teachers; some might have been less than successful. But most found life outside the classroom more to their liking. The reverse is not likely to be true; not many who are successful in the "outside" world are as likely to be successful in a classroom. Regardless of education and success, a lot of people cannot deal with an elementary classroom full of 25 or more hyperactive children, not for an hour or so but for an entire day -- day after day. How many want to deal with the middle or high school teens who know it all, are smarter than you are where modern technology is concerned, and are not inclined to listen to the teacher or do assigned work?

Our Legislature and governor see retiring doctors, bankers and other successful business professionals being eager to move from their CEO paying jobs into a low-paying, poorly respected and totally different environment -- including parent/teacher meetings, lessons plans, grading papers and even decorating classrooms -- rather than hours spent with friends on the golf course or traveling, enjoying the rewards of their success in their prior occupation. Such a fairy tale, in my opinion, is not likely to happen. Not now, not ever.

As to the tenure issue, any administrator or school district that cannot determine whether a teacher is competent and a positive addition to their school within the previous three-year time span is either incompetent in their own right or simply not paying attention.

One last comment: Within the last month, Hays lost a woman who possibly touched the lives of more Hays students than most of us could count. Esther Kraus was not just a teacher; she was someone who was exactly what a teacher is supposed to be and what we should all hope teachers will be.

Anyone from the governor to Legislature or to anyone else who believes they easily could step in and do the job she did for so many years needs to chuck their job and give it a shot.

Mike Leas,

Hays

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