The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South screens documentary that focuses on plight of educators

By Elaine Bonilla/reporter

A screening of the documentary American Teacher was held Feb. 25 in the South Campus Recital Hall. The film brought attention to the teaching profession in the United States and the difficulties teachers face. The documentary features four teachers from different parts of the country.

Many public school teachers live at or near the poverty level and still manage to pay out of pocket for needed supplies for their classrooms, the film shows.

Following the film, a panel discussion featured four educational leaders and issues that affect teachers in the surrounding school districts.

The film compares U.S. with other countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Finland. These countries respect the teaching profession the way a doctor or lawyer is respected. The process of becoming a teacher in these countries is selective and rigorous, but the nations offer competitive pay.

Finding a solution to the teaching crisis in the U.S. was the overall issue. A few programs across the United States offer better conditions and pay for teachers.

Keller history teacher Erik Benner, who was featured in the movie, said being a teacher and a coach didn’t pay enough, so he had to get a second job to support his family. Benner’s work put a strain on his marriage, which ended in a divorce. Benner is not the only one as 62 percent of teachers have second jobs to make ends meet.

“There’s a balance, and you have to find the balance,” Benner said. “That’s the hardest part because some [teachers] spend more time with the kids at school then their own kids.”

During this past Halloween, Benner had a football game and didn’t get to go trick-or-treating with his own children, but he sent the other two coaches home to spend Halloween with theirs.

Christy Balraj, assistant principal of J.P. Elder Middle School in Fort Worth, said her job has elements of teaching.

“I still consider myself a teacher. I’m not teaching students and children, but I’m teaching the teachers how to become the better teacher for our students,” Balraj said.

Balraj said she and a special interest coordinator decided to focus most of their attention on the new teachers, and their mentors talked to them about balancing school and home.

“It is important to find that balance because you can’t neglect either family,” Balraj said.

As a holiday present, the school gave the teachers a period off so they could leave campus and go gift shopping.

An audience member said when teachers reach out to students and advocate for them, it affects the students and parents.

“We want everyone to get involved somehow with the school board, legislatures, people who are running for the school board on the state level,” said Feyi Obamehinti, a Barbara Bush Fellow who hosted the event.

TCC education major Jenevine Williams, who also took part in the panel, said she doesn’t show any fear of becoming a teacher and the issues that come with it.

“I work a full-time job, and I go to school full-time, and I don’t have a day off and don’t ever expect to get one,” Williams said. “I wanted to be in advertising because I wanted to make money, and when I switched to teaching, it’s not about the money. I could care less.”

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