Recently, a colleague in the teaching profession updated her Facebook status to say that her check was less this month due to increased taxes. Morale in the teaching profession is already low. Having a check be even smaller is just popping the blister on a burn. I’ve spent the last five years bringing home, at the MOST, $2022 each month, working 14 hours a day, and spending my own money on supplies. So, when I saw the preview for American Teacher on TV, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to watch it. When you are already burned out, seeing the pitiful state of education laid out in a film is like popping that blister and rubbing salt on it.
American Teacher is a documentary film from Nina Calegari, Dave Eggers, and Vanessa Roth. Skeptical of the content, and not keen on having reality described in vivid detail, I recorded the film and waited about a month to watch it. I saw Waiting for Superman, and I was worried that this film would leave me as frustrated. In the end, the fact that Matt Damon, a proponent of teachers, provided the narration swayed me. Then I was ready to start a revolution!
American Teacher follows the lives of four teachers as they struggle to balance the demands of the profession with personal and financial realities. Entranced by the stories, each person reminded me of someone I knew. Even when I sat down to review some of the movie for this article, I was again pulled into the film. Interlaced with these highly personal stories are facts and statistics. The film is a sober look at the challenges and obstacles facing teachers and the educational system today.
Here are some facts.
“¢ 46 % of teachers in public schools leave the profession within five years.
“¢ 14% of teachers leave the profession each year.
“¢ 20% of teachers in urban districts leave the profession each year.
“¢ Teachers are priced out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas.
“¢ Teachers make 14% less than other professionals in jobs that require the same level of education.
The system is broken and needs to be changed. This film can be a springboard for discussion and activism.
This is the time to make changes. Sitting around on our butts and complaining accomplishes nothing. See this film. Host a screening. Go to this website.
Volunteer in your child’s school. Do something and be an agent of change. Skip a reality show and watch a documentary. You can see this film online by following this link.
When you are done watching it, comment below, and we can start planning our revolution!