The first time I ever saw Joyce in a school setting she was sitting cross-legged on the floor conversing with a fellow teacher while cutting out items for a bulleting board for her classroom. Thirty-six years have passed and now she sits alone on our living room couch pondering over an abundance of computer and paperwork.

The first time I ever saw Joyce in a school setting she was sitting cross-legged on the floor conversing with a fellow teacher while cutting out items for a bulleting board for her classroom. Thirty-six years have passed and now she sits alone on our living room couch pondering over an abundance of computer and paperwork.

Over the year’s Joyce has never wavered from one of her first loves, her students or as she calls them, “her children.” On more than one occasion tears of frustration have streamed down her cheeks late at night. During the course of our many discussions about her life’s calling she laments, “I just don’t have enough time for my children as I once did.”

Apparently my lovely wife of almost 35 years is not the only one suffering from the pangs of frustration related to the honorable profession of teaching.

I was saddened to see a report that shows that approximately one in three new teachers will leave teaching after just three years. What a waste and what a shame. The Bureau of Legislative Research cited stress and workload as the primary reasons for the large exit. Salary and retirement benefits were also factors.

It should be noted that not even Teach for America will be able to fill the entire void if teacher turnover continues to climb.

For young people preparing to enter the teaching field, additional pay and benefits would probably help improve retention. However, for many veteran teachers reducing the excessive paperwork and administrative responsibilities might help do the trick.

Today, many teachers feel they are being asked to achieve an impossible task with little or no support from local administrators or the state Board of Education.

Adding to the frustration of teachers is ever-changing mandates and lack of teacher independence in the classroom as well as a lack of support from parents thus creating a breakdown of discipline at school.

Many, if not most, teachers work very hard. I’ve witnessed it myself. There have been way too many nights that long after I crawled off to bed I could see a living room light on down the hall way into the wee hours of the morning. I can testify to the fact that dedicated teachers indeed go above and beyond the call to duty because they “LOVE” their students.

Years ago a man approached me and had the nerve to make the comment that teachers were just glorified babysitters with a 3-month vacation. Needless to say I tried to set him straight but ignorance is at best difficult to deal with.

Teachers don’t have bankers’ hours. They don’t go to work at 8 and come home at 3:30 and cozy up in an easy chair for a nice relaxing evening of watching TV. Their days are frequently filled with meetings for the sake of having meetings, long hours of personal development during the summer months and dealing with the constant addition of new policies and regulations without taking away irrelevant rules.

If the same amount of stress were placed on doctors, lawyers and politicians, we would probably see a large drop-off in those professions as well. However, it should be duly noted that there would be no doctors, lawyers and politicians if it weren’t for teachers.

There appears to be a move to do away with veteran teachers, or “old dogs” as they are sometimes referred. Young, wet-behind-the-ears administrators want to opt for change and save a few bucks that could be put elsewhere.

Change is fine. Our advancing technology is forcing us to make some quick adjustments particularly in the area of education. However, change just for the sake of change brings about numerous headaches.

One of the biggest mistakes we as a society has made is allowing education to become a political football. Back in the early 1980s Bill and Hillary Clinton sent education on a downward roll in Arkansas with silly teacher testing and other reforms that put the entire weight of the responsibility of education squarely on the shoulders of teachers. Since that time higher ups have become more concerned with being appointed or elected to high positions than improving education.

It has been said that the “old dogs” need to learn some new tricks. Well, perhaps the younger generation should take advantage of the wisdom and knowledge that is affordable only through these “old dogs.”

P.S. “Old dogs” is an age discriminatory tag and is just as offensive to the senior population as the “N” word is to the African American community or the “R” word is to Native Americans.