Don't Confuse Teachers' Professionalism With High Morale


April 05, 1992|By Jeff Griffith

Teacher morale is high.


Visit a Carroll County school.

You will see teachers working with children. You will see dedication and respect. You will see instruction geared to the individual needs of learners.

You will see motivated kids and motivated teachers. Both are working hard.

But don't confuse dedication with high morale. And don't confuse motivationwith high morale.

Carroll teachers are professionals. Therefore, they are dedicated and hard working in spite of the way this community treats them.

Don't confuse professionalism with high morale.

Teachers wonder why they were furloughed -- furlough is a euphemism for pay cut -- while the school system spent a pot of money to providedozens of substitutes to allow classroom teachers to attend two-day staff development session that many considered worthless.

At leastone teacher had the courage to decline to attend the second day.

"I belong in my classroom," he said.

Complaints about in-service programs predate history and are always to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. In fact, such complaints have been reported to appear among the Stone Age paintings found in French caves.

Here, however, teachers might have a legitimate gripe. Cut their pay and then hire subs? Why not just rub their noses in it?

At one middle school,teachers wonder how, in a year of furloughs, parents can insist thatteachers not only attend school fund-raisers but also donate prizes.At the fund-raiser, the proportion of teachers attending outnumbers the proportion of parents who volunteer.

Is the fund raising for the benefit of the teachers?


Teachers throughout the system wonder why performance doesn't drive pay. Year after year, their students outperform their counterparts throughout the state. The citizens-- and their elected representatives -- complain nonetheless. And they expect teachers to do more with less.

Most teachers use their own money to purchase supplies for students. Do these teachers deserveto have their pay cut?


Here is what some teachers at one county high school had to say -- anonymously -- about the current state of affairs:

"When glossy programs and high-paid administrators take precedence over teachers who have dedicated their lives to this profession, it's no wonder that teachers leave and that those who staysee no light at the end of the tunnel."

"The morale of teachers is at an all-time low. We are tired of having lip service paid to how valuable we are while the board systematically overstaffs central office with high paying, superfluous administrative positions and new programs that require vast amounts of money to administer."

"As a new teacher, I find a furlough to be a bad omen of things to come. I now understand, after only six months of teaching, why many educators do not remain in the profession for the long haul."

"Personally, I am disheartened and frustrated, although I still make every effort toperform my duties thoroughly and professionally. I feel that I deserve to be treated more fairly after the 20 years that I have devoted to the Carroll County schools."

"I feel that the furlough has hurt morale within the schools, especially with the rumor circulating thatit was not necessary and that other measures might have been taken to avoid it."

"We work hard to maintain professionalism and not allow the drop in morale to hurt our students, our class atmosphere or the fulfillment of our duties. But it hasn't been easy."

Despite Carroll's relatively low administrative costs and administrative salaries that are barely competitive with surrounding counties, our teachers show their frustration by lashing out at their supervisors.

Teacher morale is high.


Teachers are professionals.

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