Education: Teachers' Bill of Rights

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Raleigh Schorling earned $1.83 a day on his first teaching job 42 years ago. He is doing a little better now, as a professor of education at the University of Michigan, but he still thinks teachers are underpaid —and overworked. That, he says, is why 600,000 teachers have deserted the profession since 1939. Last week Professor Schorling was busy propagandizing teachers the nation over to endorse a twelve-point Bill of Rights. It was sure to please teachers, less likely to appeal to taxpayers. Items:

¶The right to teach small enough classes —from 10 to 20 pupils. (This means better teaching—and 1,000,000 new teachers, Professor Schorling says.)

¶The right to good materials (visual aids, books) and enough of them.

¶The right to pleasant, well-adapted classrooms. (Too many seem like places of detention; too few are suited to the subject under study.)

¶The right to the same personal liberties as other respectable citizens. (Teachers like occasional card-playing, dancing, smoking, even a drink or two, and in many towns are not supposed to.)

¶The right to a 45-hour week. (Teachers, he says, average 70 hours on classroom work, pupil and parent guidance, grading papers, leading community activities.)

¶The right to adequate, 52-week pay. (U.S. average: $1,900 a year.)

¶The right to an internship. (Before settling down to a specialty, new teachers need light teaching loads and a chance to try a variety of classroom, and administrative jobs under experienced teachers.)

¶The right to constructive supervision. (When no one sees or discusses his work, except on an occasional inspection, the teacher suffers from frustration.)

¶The right to take time during the school day to plan—one hour for each hour of teaching. (Three planning-hours might save 50 pupil-hours.)

¶The right to help modify school methods, programs and policies.

Professor Schorling calmly admits that his program would probably treble educational budgets. He adds: "The U.S. spent more on chewing gum last year than on children's books. Liquor cost two or three times what the country paid out for education."