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As Long as We Remember...

March 22, 2012

An Honorable Profession…But…

Joan Marie Aquilino

Another year, another marathon whine fest. It doesn’t matter if they get a step increase, a raise, a bonus or a COLA, it just doesn’t matter; they’ll whine that it’s still not enough.


Well, I’ve had enough. Grow up, get your act together and be thankful you have a job. You alone made the career choice; no one promised exorbitant salaries with only a 7.5 hour work day. You’ve gotten high percentage yearly pay increases, except for the past three years, and it wasn’t enough. You’ve gotten planning time, and it wasn’t enough. You got raises when others didn’t, and it’s never enough. What exactly is enough; do you want a job or just a paycheck?


I don’t need to lay out my own sob story because I could out whine any of you. The difference is I don’t see it that way. I see it as the personal challenges I’ve taken on and conquered one by one.


Of course, I’ve had my moments of failure, frustration, despair, and, yes, even anger; but they pale in comparison to my successes, glee, happiness and sheer pleasures. Barely a day goes by that I’m not thankful for the opportunities I’ve been offered. The difference is that I take responsibility for the choices I’m free to make. I’m not special, but I’m an adult making adult choices and living with the consequences of those choices.


Wow, I just taught a lesson. The sad part is those who need to learn this lesson won’t understand a word of what I’ve said. They can’t comprehend anything outside of what their contact and union tells them.


Sounds like I’m talking about some horrible and completely self-absorbed, unethical profession, doesn’t it? Well I’m not. I’m talking about some of the best and finest of our culture, our teachers.


I’m not even talking about the vast majority, but rather about the loud and ungrateful few. The majority of our teachers are there for the good and right reasons, but I’m fearful they are the very quiet majority – too busy and tired from doing their jobs to say anything about the loud and the few.


I’m also equally sure many think I’m being way too harsh on those responsible for the education of our children. No one should speak about teachers the way I’ve just done. To the teachers who work their fingers to the bone, knowing full well the job they took on, and doing what is expected and 10 times more, I’m not talking about you. I praise, honor and thank you.


I’m talking about the ones who – no matter what you do for them – will never be satisfied.


No one who goes to college for four-plus years and comes out being a teacher can honestly say they don’t know exactly what they are getting into as far as pay goes. If you don’t, you aren’t the type person I want teaching our children.


Enough already! I’ve gone off the deep end and probably did go too far; but honestly, after watching, supporting and writing about this very subject for over 20 years, I’m not interested in not offending any longer.


This latest ‘Teach to the contract rule’ or whatever the Frederick County Teachers Association (FCTA) wants to call, it is the straw that broke the camel’s back.


Be careful, teachers’ union officials, be very careful. Don’t you dare take one single solitary moment doing anything but teaching these children for all 7.5 precious hours of your day. Oh, and of course, your planning time; it’s all about that precious planning time.


Seriously who else gets designated, paid time to figure out what they are going to do next. My planning time is the two and half hour commute to work. That’s when I figure out my next day and week. I don’t even really care that teachers seem to need that handicap. So be it. But don’t blame us when as a high school teacher in five so-called work days you get an entire day of nothing but planning time. Ninety minutes a day times five days equals 7.5 hours which equals one full day. You teach four days and you can’t prepare and plan for those four days of teaching in one full day of planning? Why is this not enough?


We all need to take a deep breath, regroup and look at what we have and be grateful for it instead of always wanting/demanding more. Don’t ever stop striving to better yourself, but the “I’m better than the rest of you” elitist, entitled mentality needs to stop.


Teaching is a wonderful and admirable occupation and I admire those who take it on and do it well. Teaching isn’t for everyone; it’s for the few, the brave and the gifted. I don’t need to walk a mile in your shoes, nor you in mine, to figure that out. We all make choices and I’m living with mine.


I hope the unhappy, ungrateful, unappreciative professionals in the teaching field go home tonight and re-evaluate why they are doing what they are doing, and make some enlightened decisions that will benefit themselves and our children. If you need to leave the profession, then do so, and do everyone a favor, you find that big paycheck and we’ll pray those gifted to teach remain.


When a teacher, a true professional, rises to the ranks of National Teacher of the Year and gets nothing for her accomplishments, we have a problem. Everyone is not equal and everyone doesn’t deserve the same. Those who do better, deserve better. Those who don’t, should leave.


Teachers, step back and look at the big picture. Do what is best for you and the children. After all, isn’t it all about the children in the end? That’s what you always tell us. Educate the children well enough, and maybe they’ll bring our economy back to life and we’ll all get raises once again.


Take a moment before you criticize me for this column. Look into the eyes of a child. Are you in the profession that is right for you as well as for the child? If the answer is no, that’s alright; but it’s time you take responsibility for your actions, whatever that might be.


. . . . .'til next time . . .


As always, I’d love to hear from you; so, let me know what’s on your mind by emailing, or contacting me directly at


“Just Joan” saying, be safe and “don’t believe everything you think.”


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