Danedri Thompson
A whiny teacher’s essay has gone viral to become a rallying cry for the National Education Association and teachers everywhere.
It starts, “I am a teacher in Florida,” and then whines through a list of all the challenges teachers face. The essay, written by fourth grade teacher Jammee Miller, only served to irritate me.
“I rise before dawn each day and find myself nestled in my classroom hours before the morning commute is in full swing in downtown Orlando,” the whiner writes.
I am a journalist in Kansas. I rise way, way before dawn two days a week. I’ve polished up three stories or more, designed pages for the print edition and started editing the finished product before most people have had the chance to hit the snooze button on their alarm clocks.
“I am a teacher in Florida… As the sun sets around me and people are beginning to enjoy their dinner, I lock my classroom door, having worked four hours unpaid,” she whines.
I am a journalist in Kansas.As most people are getting dinner on the table in their own households, I’m gearing up to attend a school board, city council or county commission meeting. When you’re crawling into bed, I’m still sitting through a meeting trying mentally to piece together all the background information necessary to write a story a populace with only a fifth grade reading level will understand. I skip dinner. My husband fends for himself, and when my story reaches print, at least one reader or source will yell or belittle me via email or telephone.
“I am a teacher in Florida,” she writes. “…I greet the smiling faces of my students and am reminded anew of their challenges, struggles, successes, failures, quirks, and needs. They come in hungry—I feed them. They come in angry—I counsel them. They come in defeated—I encourage them. And this is all before the bell rings.”
I am a journalist in Kansas. I walk through the door as yet another angry politician or reader is lambasting us, because they don’t agree with our coverage. I open my email and read the kinds of insults that would make grown men weep – and that’s all before I finish my morning cup of coffee.
“I am a teacher in Florida,” she whines. “…I accepted a lower salary with the promise of a small increase for every year taught. I watched my friends with less education than me sign on for six figure jobs while I embraced my $28k starting salary.”
I am a journalist in Kansas. Starting out at $28,000 per year sounds like a dream come true. Getting a raise? Less likely than winning the lottery. And apparently, I’m hanging with the wrong crowds, because I don’t remember anyone getting a six-figure job right out of college. I work in the private sector in an office with a staff of less than 10. Our health plans are meager. And a pension? Bwa ha ha ha. That’s a good one. Here in the private sector our bosses can’t afford glamorous pensions and health care packages. They’re too busy trying to scrape together enough tax money to ensure the teachers and administrators have the goods in their benefit packages.
“I am a teacher in Florida,” she cries. “…I spent $2,500 in my first year alone to outfit an empty room so that it would promote creative thinking and a desire to learn and explore.” She prints stuff at home. She buys school supplies out of her own pocket at Staples.
I am a journalist in Kansas.  I purchased my own camera, batteries, tape recorder, and pens.
And guess what? Staples doesn’t offer a journalist discount. Guess who gets one at many office supply stores as well as 50 percent off discounts on homes through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, discounts on supplies from many retailers and a litany of other special deals? If you said, “teachers,” give yourself an ‘A-plus.’)
“I am a teacher in Florida,” the whiny essay continues. “…I went to school at one of the best universities in the country and completed undergraduate and graduate programs in Education. I am a master of my craft… My expertise is waved away, disregarded, and overlooked. I am treated like a day-laborer, required to follow the steps mapped out for me…”
I am a journalist in Kansas. I attended the finest university in Kansas. I worked hard, got good grades and learned a lot. At graduation, my university never promised me a fat paycheck along with my diploma. They promised me an education, which I got.
Sometimes people with less education than I have boss me around. That’s OK. Many learned from another school — the school of life — and I can  and should learn from them.
“I am a teacher in Florida,” she snivels. “I am overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated by most… I am being required to do more and more, and I’m being compensated less and less.”
I am a journalist in Kansas, and I am traumatized that anyone considers this rant a rallying cry. It’s whining – pure and simple. I’m disgusted by the idea that 24 fourth graders each year are learning from a teacher with so little grit. Whining like a baby on the playground of life isn’t an example I’d want my kids to learn from.
For all its challenges – including low pay, long hours, very little appreciation and hard work, I love my job. Not for the security it provides me or for the paycheck – I love my job, because I feel like what I’m doing matters.
Newflash, Florida teacher: Your profession isn’t the only one that requires early mornings, late nights and low pay. Welcome to the real world your essay complains you can’t recreate in your classroom due to budget constraints. You’re living in it. And all those bureaucrats who are micromanaging your work – they’re your bosses. They were appointed by elected officials. And we, the people, are their bosses. You don’t work for you.
You work for us. And as far as this boss is concerned, you should start looking for another job.
Teacher’s whiny missive can be found here.