Are Teachers Professionals?

As I’ve cruised news sites lately, there have been some articles about teacher in NY who was “tardy” more than a hundred times and yet managed to keep his job. This seems to be an outrage to the press, but I think it is much ado about a minor problem. If your doctor is ten minutes late arriving at his office, you are probably glad that is all. Same thing for the judge who hears your divorce. Why is that? Because they are professionals, that’s why. According to the articles I read, the teacher was never late to class. So, who suffered because the teacher liked to dawdle over breakfast? Not the students, apparently.

So why is this a big deal? The teacher went to arbitration, stating that he had only once been later than 10 minutes, and that was due to a broken down car. And the teacher kept his job. Certainly, being punctual is a virtue that the teacher should demonstrate, but if teachers are professionals and they do a good job in the classroom, then “punching a time clock” should not even occur.

Many years ago, when I first began teaching, there was a “sign in” sheet in the front office, and we would all have to line up to jot down our names. Then, we got a new principal who said, “You are professionals, and I expect you to be professional in all of your dealings with students, parents, and anyone else you encounter in your work. I am going to treat you as professionals, and professionals don’t line up to sign in or punch a time clock.” Cool. And, as I recall, we didn’t have any problems with instructors being late. Instead, we reported directly to our classrooms to help students, instead of waiting to sign that sheet of paper on a clipboard.

The news media should report on good and bad aspects of education. But leave the “tardy” teacher story alone. It’s a stupid story.

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