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Opinion: Being an Education Major

It's no secret that education is not the same as it used to be, especially with the growing interest in schools by legislators. Recently, the North Carolina Senate passed the “Parents Bill of Rights,” a bill that requires teachers to fully disclose any time a student requests to use a new name or pronouns, as well as prohibits instruction about gender and sexuality in the classroom. This bill would also require teachers to disclose all course materials and books their children check out from the library.

Over the past few years, legislation that regulates teaching has become increasingly more common. This begs the question: when does it end? Bills like this, and many others are causing teachers to burnout and leave the profession as they feel they are not respected. This leaves students like myself, who intend to become educators, faced with a difficult situation: are we willing to accept and work within the increasingly hostile environment surrounding teaching? Speaking for myself, as someone with a lineage of teachers in my family, I have been surrounded by the conversation about this changing environment for years. It seems that over time, teachers have become less trusted, less respected, and less valued.

Nationwide, teachers are leaving the profession in droves, but why? Many teachers cite the [COVID-19] pandemic as having further intensified existing problems within the education system. Specific reasons include inadequate funding, lack of support for educators, and safety concerns. It can also be linked to the growing conflict with parents and guardians over topics including the LGBTQ+ community and issues surrounding race. Thinking about entering the education field begins to feel a lot more daunting when considering how the American classroom is beginning to feel more like a divisive political talking point, rather than an environment that fosters growth, understanding and learning.

I want to teach to share my love for art with students and to provide the unwavering support they deserve, much like the relationships I have valued with my own teachers in the past. Despite the changes that have caused many teachers to retire, the system can’t be improved without a new generation of teachers that will advocate for our own benefit. Doing so is why I continue my path towards the classroom. The issue has never been with our educators, and it will continue to be linked back to leaders that make decisions without consulting those that would face the repercussions.

To learn more about how teachers are being affected by changes in public policy, as well as how to take action, visit the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) website.

By Liese Devine, Contributing Writer



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