The Unfinished Business With Teachers

After Anne Marie Slaughter published her article in The Atlantic “Why Women Still Cant’ Have it All” in 2012, she touts in her book Unfinished Business that it became the most read article in the 150-year history of the magazine. I remember reading the article and having many conversations with women about whether or not they agreed or disagreed with her argument. At the time I thought about my own career path and what I was sacrificing with three kids and a job in a city where my family does not live. Did I really have it all? I’m halfway through her book now and this time I can’t help but think about teachers (instead of myself) as she makes her argument about caregiving being as important as making and managing money. She says we need to “raise our estimation of the value and importance of caregiving and the skills we need to do it well.”  Sound familiar? Teachers deserve respect is a narrative that we see a lot in education. I’m not surprised teachers came to mind as she was talking about caregivers because more than 75 percent of teachers are women in the US. She concludes that the message that a woman’s work of caregiving is less important than a man’s tradition of work earning income is part of a “historical bias, an outdated prejudice, a cognitive distortion that is skewing our society and hurting us all.” What would it take to change this historical bias and outdated prejudice for both caregivers and teachers? The problem in education is that our policies (accountability and otherwise) don’t always value the expertise that teachers bring to the table or the way in which they show up as learners every day themselves. Creating school cultures based on trust and respect is a good starting place. We are seeing the kind of trust and respect that all teachers crave through Teacher2Teacher, a teacher-owned community that we support. It’s encouraging to see teachers talk about why they teach and to see them support each other as professionals that most certainly deserve our respect.