Over the last few years, educators have experienced an exorbitant amount of exploitation, manipulation and quite frankly, abuse from those making decisions in education .  Many days we ask ourselves, is it worth it?

Some say being an educator is a profession we do, not for money or accolades but for our love of literacy and students.  We need to get real and understand, because of our love of education and our willingness to go the extra mile for our students, we may be in an abusive relationship with those who impose education policy and initiatives on us day in and day out.  Abuse is the improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit.  Here are 5 reasons that support the notion many educators are living in an abusive relationship with their school districts.

  1. By expecting workers to spend much of their personal time doing work to benefit the system and disguising it as dedication, is abuse.  Here’s an example.  A teacher, we will call her Sue, is working diligently to get her lesson plans completed on time.  Because the template for her lesson plans is so complex due to district initiatives (i.e. the requirement to include not only the actual lesson but also the essential questions, bellringers, standards, both formative and summative assessments, and objectives), Sue has to spend 6-8 hours constructing her lesson plans to adhere to the unrelenting initiatives coming down from the district. In another example, an administrator, who we will call Carol, has to be on campus for every game, for every sport, for every season.  Carol’s own children don’t usually see her at night because she is consumed with the activities and accomplishments of other peoples’ children.  On the weekends Carol is working from her computer to adhere to the many initiatives the district imposes on her.  In both cases the district uses both workers unfairly and improperly to gain benefits.  The benefits are teacher compliance with initiatives and administrative supervision for high school athletics.  The unfair treatment is the lack of extra pay and the expectation that workers will continually give up their time regardless of their personal needs and the needs of their family.
  2. Educators are rushing from their classes to meetings, to PLCs, back to meetings.  Every day is a hurried, scary, whirlwind where teachers and administrators are expected to operate at an unsustainable pace.  Many are sleep deprived and tired because of the stress of accountability, VAM scores, relentless deadlines and meetings, and district/state mandated initiatives.  The unreasonable expectations and requirements are hurting our best educators.  Many are taking back control and leaving education all together. The unrelenting pace is also a reason 50% of new educators leave the field before their third year of teaching.  How hard is it to understand, a plate already full cannot hold more food?
  3. Educators know all too well, no good deed goes unpunished.  The more we do the more the district takes.  The better we become at our jobs, the more responsibilities are placed on our shoulders.  For example, if a teacher is a great ESE or special education teacher, he or she is most likely in charge of an excessive amount of Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for students. More disheartening is those same selfless teachers aren’t ever getting the opportunity to get out of ESE or special education to work in less stressful general education classes. We all know, once an educator is deemed an asset in the ESE or special education department, he or she will most likely die there.
  4. No matter the effort educators put forth, they are continually told they aren’t good enough according to accountability and standards.  For example, whenever educators start to make gains concerning student achievement, or begin to win the race, the state changes the game and districts do nothing to stop it.  Remember it’s still abuse when one sees abuse and does nothing.  In this strategy, districts keep us on the treadmill, and terrified we will lose our jobs if we attempt to slow down or get off.  This also keeps us grateful for jobs we begin to feel we aren’t good enough to keep.  It is mass manipulation in the most creative way.
  5. Even though educators know we are being mistreated, we keep coming back for more.  Sometimes it’s the students who keep us coming back.  We think the kids will miss us and be crushed if we are gone.  Sometimes it’s the money; we can’t afford to leave our abusers because they sign our checks (insert pimp and hooker joke here).  Most of the time it’s a combination of the two; we love our students and can’t sustain our lifestyle without the paycheck.  Either way it’s a win-win for the abusers.

The first step is calling it what it is and admitting we are in an abusive relationship. The most important way to combat abuse is to stand up and say NO.  And we can’t let the abuser make us think we’re crazy for saying no because that’s what they are good at.  We say, “NO!” and they make us out to be self-serving and unprofessional.  Or sometimes they engage in the old carrot and stick routine where they will dangle an opportunity or possible promotion in our faces.  Don’t fall for it!  Take your life back by being and awesome educator and say no to anything you feel is unnecessary, knowing the more you give the more they will devour.