Unbeknownst to Mr. Eric Patnoudes, he opened up a healing wound today with this tweet:
In January, I made a similar tweet alluding to the exploitation of educators at the expense of large educational outfitters:
I was beginning to heal from the frustration and hurt feelings…and then he ripped the scab off today by reminding me that these large conferences put on by large large educompanies seem to care very little about the teachers who wish to speak and/or attend the conference. It seems mind-boggling to me that a group of people sat in a room and decided it was a good idea to charge a presenter hundreds of dollars to do them a favor. It’s even more ludicrous to know there was a conversation where someone approved charging teachers who had already paid for airfare, hotel, food, uber, et cetera to use a projector and (maybe) the internet. Unreal.
These are the same companies who will claim to support teachers, write about how they provide such an important service, and are under appreciated by society…until it’s time for these companies to make a buck or two. I’m not sure of another job where the very people who are the backbone of the profession are exploited so much (See also: attempting to get your research published in an academic journal…El$evier, for example).
It’s enough to make a person want to give up on bettering oneself in the classroom. Writing from personal experience, it is very defeating to have a message that you feel is important enough to share with other educators, yet, because of greed, you are unable to do so. Why should I continue to try and grow through attending and speaking at these conferences if I’m not even really valued by them? Very frustrating. I’m at my breaking point with them.
So, what’s an educator to do? How can I do my part in attempt to bring about change? Let these companies know how you feel. They certainly aren’t going to see the light out of the kindness of their hearts. They need to know this might impact their bottom line before they’ll make a move. They don’t believe there’s a problem. They need to know how the very people they claim to support really feel. This won’t get better simply by remaining silent. Maybe write an email or tweet at them with one, some, or all of the following questions/sentiments:
- Why do you charge presenters so much to do you a favor?
- How can you possibly claim to be for educators when you exclude so many with these prices?
- I’m not coming anymore until your prices have changed.
- I won’t retweet or promote any of your literature anymore.
- I will continue to tell others of this financial malpractice.
- I will amplify other conferences or methods of receiving professional development that don’t cost me thousands of dollars.
Keep fighting the good fight. If teachers do nothing to show our disgust with this practice, nothing will be done and valuable contributors will remain silent. Furthering education, as a teacher, shouldn’t come with an exorbitant price tag and we’ve got to do something to change that practice.
*I really hope those who can afford to attend these conferences via their own finances or grant money don’t feel targeted with this post. If you can get there and enjoy the conference, more power to you. Keep doing your thing. Teachers are not, and never will be, the enemy.
**I would like to add that the lovely people of the NCSS Psych Community offered to provide a projector and assistance for the NCSS conference. Very generous of them, but teachers should have to rely on this type of help…to use a projector.