On Thursday, I marched.
I marched for every single teacher who has ever had somebody tell them that they do nothing of any worth.
For every teacher who has ever been spat at; sworn at; assaulted; violated; verbally attacked or bullied.
For every teacher who has ever stayed in work past eight marking papers and arrived in school at seven the next day, without whinging or moaning about the ‘twelve-hour rule’.
For every teacher who taught somebody, anything.
For every teacher who has ever had to explain exactly why they might actually deserve a pension.
Yesterday, somebody directed the following at me in an email:
“Do you contribute to my private pension? Because I’m pretty sure you don’t. Why should I pay for yours? Normal people shouldn’t have to pay for public sector workers.”
You’re right; I don’t contribute to your private pension.
I also don’t get paid for my overtime or extra-curricular clubs. Those things that I do, for free, that enable you to earn your wage and keep your family happy and healthy.
It seems that we are stuck in a world that feels it appropriate to bash teachers as in the eyes of the public, we do nothing. But let me ask you this:
How many articles on Wednesday were bashing us because children missed out on a day of education?
I can tell you.
The Sun ran a story about how parents would have to pay for child care, and so all teachers were evil. The Daily Mail tried to pin a death on us, because we weren’t there to look after the poor soul. The Guardian passed comment on the glut of bookings for nurseries, creches and babysitters, leaving parents out of pocket. The Mirror ran an image of a mother and her son, resplendent with pit bull, attached to an interview where said mother was angry that she could not partake in her ‘day-to-day activities’… Which included going to the betting shop. Not a single publication focused on the loss of a day’s education; the fact that students were missing out on something important that would serve them a benefit in their future lives.
Where are our country’s priorities?
We’re not babysitters. We are far more than that.
Of all the children I have taught in the past six years, the vast majority are now at university or in full-time work, training themselves to be your future. They are our hope, our investment, our gift to the world. It is upon them that the future of society and its success rests.
And yet we continue to vilify our educators and claim they are worth nothing?
I may not pay towards your pension, but what I do do is worth far more than that. Because if in ten years, you suddenly have a heart attack and need a doctor; if you decide to start a business and need a consultant to look over your plans; if you get married and need a wedding planner/priest/photographer; if you work for a firm that has cleaners…
Every single one of them will have been trained by us.
So yes, I went on strike. I marched proudly with 3,500 other people and was greatly encouraged by the huge amount of support afforded to us by the residents of Brighton and Hove. We have Caroline Lucas on our side. We have a voice. We care about our students and we care about our future. Pension contributions increasing and working until 68 will only push perfectly brilliant teachers out of the system and into private jobs, and where will we be then? Where will our children be? A good education has to cost something, and if that means I have to pay tax to assist – and I do – then that is fine by me.
If you think your minimal tax contributions to our pensions are not worth the future of the world, then so be it.
All I ask is that before you bemoan the fact that you pay for their help, you think about this: without your teachers, where would you be? Would you even be paying tax?
Food for thought, hey?