As a retired teacher and coach, I can tell you that any comparison between what teachers do and what football coaches do is absurd. Let’s look at only the most obvious differences. Football is a completely voluntary activity; English, math, science, social studies, and other academic subjects are required. Students must participate, even if they hate the subject.

Football coaches get to choose which players they wish to have on the team. They can and do select only the biggest, strongest, fastest, and most highly motivated and exclude the weak, uncoordinated, and disinterested; teachers, however, must teach everyone, regardless of their intellectual, emotional, physical, and motivational shortcomings.

At test time (a game for a football team or a standardized test for students) football coaches select their eleven best players to put on the field at any given moment. They can substitute to meet particular needs and situations. Teachers have to send every “player” onto the “field” for every “play,” regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. How much would test scores improve if teachers could select their eleven best students for each question on a test?

Football coaches have a staff of assistants. Teachers rarely have even a single assistant. Football coaches have to prepare 11-15 game plans per year; teachers have to prepare 180 lesson plans (or more if they teach different courses) every year.

In Colquitt County, football players have the most up-to-date and expensive equipment and facilities; teachers and students often have out-of-date computers, old facilities, and no textbooks. Sometimes, teachers have to buy classroom materials themselves. Every student having his/her own computer remains a dream here, while many school districts have been providing them to their students for years.

A teacher, usually single-handedly, must do all of the following each day: Design lessons to meet a variety of student needs and interests; gather or create the worksheets, quizzes, and tests to implement the plan and make sure those materials are printed and ready for every student; do the clerical work of recording absences, tardies, and grades; teach the lessons to students all day; handle any discipline problems; and grade the worksheets, quizzes, and tests. Don’t forget other frequent duties like hall monitoring, bus duty, tutoring, make-up work for absent students, calls to parents, parent-teacher conferences, meetings, and workshops. On the bright side, teachers do get 25 minutes for lunch.

So go ahead and scapegoat teachers and glorify football coaches. It certainly reveals what you value.

Michael Blatt


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