Well no they don't. They educate our children, and I believe that they are undervalued and under appreciated. And I can understand why so many joined yesterday's strike in the UK. But I'm sure that I was not the only person who got annoyed every time the teachers stridently condemned any parent who dared to complain about the disruption to their child care plans. Can we get real here please?
First of all I am going to refer to working mothers, though I know the cost of child care should be shared and that mothers in the home also work - I am one now, I should know.
Anyway most working mothers are delighted when their kids start school because working did not pay for many of us when they are small - you stay in the workforce to keep your job or your sanity or both. You only start to make money once you wave good bye to the creche fees. But while organising childcare for school going children is much cheaper, it is also much more complicated, what with holidays, staff training days, mid term breaks, sick children, snow, and few of us can afford a childminder on standby to cover for all eventualities. But that is what employers expect. Employers expect us to be in work every day, whether the teachers are or not. Our children have to be invisible. Whenever I took time off to care for a sick child, my clients were told that I was sick. Oh and I wasn't paid.
Many teachers are also working parents, so we're actually in this together. All working parents need help with childcare, and personally I believe that every school should have a breakfast and homework club: this can be good for some children as well as for working parents and would make better use of school buildings. Perhaps private companies could operate childcare in the school when it is closed - this did happen at aspie boy's former school, which is the main reason he went there.
I happen to think that most teachers are amazing people with huge talent and dedication - look what they've done for Smiley and aspie boy. There is no way that I could ever stand up in front of 30 children hour after hour trying to teach, control and care for them, day in, day out. The education of our children is vital for them and for the country's future. Yet in the Irish media all we hear is about the short working hours and long holidays that teachers 'enjoy'.
There seems to be a campaign to pit the public sector against the private sector, to impose cuts on both, while the architects of the current recession remain almost unscathed. Stop rising to the bait! Parents and teachers should be on the same side. Can we please all respect each other.