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Opinion

Fundraiser leads to the belittlement of teachers

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November 29, 2012

I was eating at a McDonald’s in Kenosha, Wis. before my sister’s basketball game last Saturday when my mother suddenly became upset. I didn’t understand what the commotion was about because, after all, we were filling our stomachs with the most nutritious food from America’s favorite restaurant.

When I asked her what was wrong, she grabbed the tray mat and aggressively waved the paper in my face. The tray mat read as follows: “McTeacher’s Night! Now through November, participating McDonald’s restaurants throughout southeastern Wisconsin will host McTeacher’s Nights…Where teachers and principals work behind the counter to raise money for their school.”

It was then that I understood why my mother was so angry: This is what the profession of teaching has been reduced to and it is beyond insulting.

The description of “McTeacher’s Night” on the tray mat is slightly deceiving. This program involves teachers working shifts at McDonald’s to raise money for the school supplies that are required to facilitate student learning.

Clearly school supplies play a key role in the way classrooms function, and these items are something that schools absolutely cannot be without. If schools lack the supplies that are necessary to teach students, it will be impossible for these institutions to be successful.

The teachers themselves don’t earn any extra money for working these shifts. Instead, these public employees are working shifts at a fast food restaurant, on top of their 10-hour school day to raise money for school supplies that should be funded with taxpayer dollars. In addition, teachers will likely be serving food to students that they teach during the day.

Teachers should be viewed as authority figures and whether in or out of the classroom, should respected for the amount of time and effort they dedicate to their students’ learning.

Teachers, by definition, are classified as public employees. Because teachers are public employees the government is required to fund and support public schools. However, if the funding that these schools received was sufficient, demeaning programs such as “McTeacher’s Night” would not even exist.

The most sickening thing about “McTeacher’s Night” is that there are a slew of public professions, but out of all of them, teaching is the one that is shafted without a second thought.

To put this program in its proper perspective, imagine the following scenario: the government refuses to provide police officers with bulletproof vests. Bulletproof vests are clearly an essential part of a police officer’s uniform and these men and women would be put in serious danger without this piece of equipment.

But have no fear! We’ll create a program called “McCop” night, and sometime between the numerous shifts they work, police officers can flip burgers and operate deep fryers to earn the money required to pay for these vests.

Clearly the scenario I just described would never transpire because the public would not dare to ask police officers to work for their uniforms. However, this example parallels the demeaning position teachers are currently being put in. What makes it acceptable for teachers to be undermined if no other public employees are?

Both of my parents are high-school teachers and despite the fact that I am not entering the profession, I realize the tremendous amount of hard work and time that is invested in student learning because of the environment I was raised in.

Teachers should be among the most respected employees in our country. Instead, in order to compensate for the lack of funding (which is demeaning in itself), ridiculous programs such as “McTeacher’s Night” are created, thus furthering the belittlement of teachers. Until people fully realize the important role teachers play in the successful functioning of our society, these professionals will continue to be unfairly degraded.

Morgan Stippel is a political science major and a professional writing minor. When she graduates from UW-River Falls, she wants to become a state prosecutor and specialize in domestic violence cases.