The other day I shared a shuttle from the car repair place with another customer. He had retired from 36 years as a teacher and football coach. He had applied for a part-time job as a coach at a football camp. (More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

He was very glad to be retired but obviously still likes coaching football. He said he enjoyed “most of the kids” but certainly “there were some he wouldn’t miss at all.”

The school he retired from is in a solidly middle class neighborhood and most of the housing bubble has been worked through. This district does not have the kind of problems one might think of in poor or inner city districts. When I asked him about the kids he wouldn’t be missing he said it probably wasn’t their fault at all but they had very little self-discipline and a low work ethic. He worried about how they would cope with life after high school and adult responsibilities. As a teacher he said he only had so many options for dealing with the slackers. At least at the football camps the kids or their parents would be paying to attend and if they weren’t paying attention the camp’s practice was to drop them. He thought they’d be more motivated.

I told him I thought teachers were way undervalued in our society considering they had all of our kids every day. They were partly in charge of getting our future ready to go. I wondered aloud about the parents of the kids he wouldn’t miss and he laughed and said, “Well honestly, I won’t miss them either. Clearly some of the kids are turning out just like their parents.”

The coach said he had loved teaching and coaching but that it had gotten harder and harder over the years. His pay had been mostly frozen the last five years and his benefits cost him more. He also felt like respect for teachers generally was on the decline. He shook his head. “You would not believe some of the names I have been called and some of the threats parents make.”

This was a soft-spoken man who missed the idealism with which he had begun his career and who still cared a lot about the kids who were falling by the wayside. Before I got out of the shuttle I wished him luck with the camp coaching.

I read most of the reports on Common Core and educational reform. I don’t really have enough knowledge or experience to have an opinion. One thing I am sure of is that as teachers leave the profession they are leaving a big gap in who we will become as a nation. They deserve more respect and support than we are giving them.