Sunday, March 4, 2007


The Oregonian newspaper (Portland, OR) recently published a series of articles about new teachers leaving the profession. The article was pushing the idea thatthe State Legislature fund a Mentor program for beginning teachers. They pointed out, and rightly so, that the beginning teacher is thrown into the classroom without any support or supervision. I remember my first few years of teaching, the stress was unbelievable. It didn't seem like I had enough time to do all that was required of me. I took work home every night and had little time for my new family. Fortunately, my wife was super supportive and helped as much as she could. I stuck it out and stayed in the same school for 34 years, plus 9 more as a substitute. It is a tough few years for beginners. The newspaper article correctly identified the problems the new teacher faces and stated that the new teacher could really use the support of a mentor. I applaud the Oregonian's attempt to help the young educator. I also applaud it for attempting to stop the exodus of well qualified teachers from the profession.

However, I find it ironic that a few years ago the same newspaper ran a series of "expose'" articles on how much it cost school districts to pay teachers and the fringe benefits they received. The paper attacked teachers as money hungry dolts who didn't care at all about their students. The Oregonian thoroughly demonized teachers and the teaching profession in general. Teachers and the dreaded teacher's union the OEA/NEA were blamed for everything from poor student scores to global warming. I wonder where the beginning teachers got the idea that they had no support? So now we should worry about the teacher drain? It would be great if the media quit their attacks on educators and started showing the care that the great majority of teachers have for their students. Who knows, it just might help slow the teacher turnover.

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