Dear Mr. President,
In Response to Your State of the Union on January 25th, 2011
I watched your address. I’ll admit the main reason I tuned in is because I could hear my recently passed grandmother saying, “Did you watch the State of the Union address last night?” She was a faithful follower of politics; unlike her, in my generation, most people aren’t. I paid attention last night and am now finding myself asking why?
I’m 34. I have a beautiful 3 year old daughter that I want the best for. I went to college right after I finished high school. I stayed in college until I earned a Master of Arts in Teaching. I started teaching Kindergarten right after I graduated. You could say I was living the American Dream since I was just a girl from the projects who was raised by a single mom. I continued teaching for seven years until 2009 when I was laid off due to school closures and a downsize in the private education market. To get a job in the public market has been a huge challenge. For the few new job openings that happen once a year, I compete against hundreds and hundreds of new graduates and other teachers who have been laid off. I admire the rigorous hiring process. Making it to the final rounds, I feel honored when I’m told you were picked from over 350 applicants! In the very end, the result has been the same every time though. I hear “we picked someone with more experience then you”. There are more people out there in my boat? What kind of boat are all the new grads in? I wonder how crowded these boats are?
Now back to your speech. I almost turned it off when you looked into the camera and said “become a teacher, your country needs you!” HUH, What??? Not to discourage the youth, but there are a lot of us in the boat already. Are you aware of this, Mr. President? We want to be teachers right now! Doesn’t our country need us now? I’m shortly approaching joining the 99er club and all I think about when I wake up in the morning is, I want a teaching job so I can provide the type of life I dreamed of having for my family.
I do agree with you on a few things: America is a great country, we need to be a land of innovation to compete in our modern world, we have an education system that needs fixed, teachers need more respect in this country, and most importantly, education first starts at home with the family. I whole-heartedly believe all of this this! With that said, at the end of your education section my feathers were still ruffled, and I tuned out most of the rest of your speech for the following reasons.
Besides the “become a teacher” comment, you kept stating, “our schools need high expectations and high performance. We need to get rid of the bad teachers, and replace them with good ones.” Well, I’m sure test scores will be used to measure this. I find it VERY unfortunate teachers are the only people being “graded” for how a student performs on tests! Didn’t you start your education plan stating “education first starts at home”? Are families also going to get report cards? Honestly, from a teacher’s viewpoint, I think it is a good idea. Can I give a family an “F” in preparation if their child comes to school tired because he/she were up all night playing video games? Or how about a “C” because they ate a sugar packed breakfast of Fruit Loops? Or “F” for when a parent tells a child "you go to school to learn, have your teacher teach you! "? There are many elements that are attributed to a child’s performance rate. Why are teachers the only people taking the blame?
I’ll end with asking you this: how will America be a land of innovation if we don’t teach our youth to be creative? You did so much talk about science, math, technology, and computers I almost couldn’t sit still and keep my mouth shut to listen. I value those subjects, but where is your talk on teaching creativity or how to cooperate with peers and adults to accomplish a common goal? Teaching students only to regurgitate facts in certain subjects will not lead us back to this innovative America you speak of. We also need to teach our students to create, think, and interact! Our future doesn’t need a bunch of robots running the country.
Desperately holding on to belief