Sunday, March 6, 2011

Teachers - Glen School & Beyond - Commentary

Above is a photo taken by Joe Braun of an abandoned school in Detroit. There are scenes like this all over this country. There are sad images of many things in this world and this is certainly one of them. This didn't have to be. Not everything needs to be done with money - what are we doing to the future generations of this country? If we all banded together we could save things like this from happening to our schools - do we really need new sports stadiums when there are scenes like this?

Okay, I said I wasn't going to use this blog format to make commentary or express opinions but with the recent frontal assault on teachers in this country and since my wife is a school teacher I feel obligated to include my opinion with the rest of the world.

When I attended school (K-12) I - for the most part I looked forward to going. I wasn't the best student in my class to be sure - I mean I certainly was more than capable but I was young for my class and found focus to be difficult for me especially in my early years.

Thankfully for me I had some incredible teachers along the way - teachers from kindergarten to gym teachers to math teachers - all seemed to truly support me and make themselves available to me. I still got some tough grades (and deservingly so I might add) but my teachers were always about giving us the best they could give us - but part of the bargain ya know, was that we as students had to be part of the plan too in order to make it work - it couldn't be left to teachers alone.

As a baseball coach, I find special joy in seeing a child develop as a ballplayer and as a person. We've won recent championships and while I teach my players to play to win - we also teach our teams to play with respect to the game, their teammates, their coaches and especially their opponents. Despite the rewards and fun of coaching I marvel how teachers can take all that to the next level. Can you imagine teaching a  young child math, reading, science, thinking skills, etc - I mean my wife is a first grade teacher and arrives at school at 7am and leaves at 5pm. She'll spend her weeknights and weekends planning, grading and focusing on her students needs - both individually and as a group. I will emphasize here that my wife is not the only teacher to do this - not even close. Teaching is a profession - how on earth has the conversation become that teachers are freeloading, are greedy - have too much time off? Only 9 months of work? Really? Do you know any teachers in the public school system who call it a day June 1, head to the beach and return in September? While students may - depending on snow days - get out June 20th, our teachers here work until June 30 and return anytime between Aug 15 and Aug 20. This, of course is not to mention the many teachers in our town that teach summer school, tutor children in need, attend student activities, plan the upcoming year, etc. Only 9 months of work - really?

There have been circumstances that make teaching even more difficult than ever. Sadly the "No Child Left Behind Act" is one of them and has - well - left children behind. There's no getting around it - where we used to be able to focus on a child because of extenuating circumstances and needs - broken homes, mental challenges, disruptive for various reasons - we now have teachers spending so much time trying to keep order and losing the time allotted for lessons.

Teaching in our town - there are no special privledges for students that might be better academically - every child is on equal footing but there are children that have special needs and need more focused attention and this gets lost with "No Child Left Behind" - kind of ironic that a program called NCLB actually leaves more children behind than ever. The other part is that teachers are required to use at least a third or more of their time to teach to the state tests - the government falsely believing that a child's low score is attributed to the teacher and making districts pay the price by limiting education funding. There are so many things that could cause the low scores but more times than not it is not the teacher. As I said, when I was a young student, I wasn't focused and when I took our state tests when I was a child (they were called the Iowa Tests) - I did poorly - this was not because I had poor teachers.

Please let's give the teachers a break. Of course there are some teachers that should probably retire but most teachers are there for the non-monetary rewards they receive for seeing a child "get it" and move on and when that child returns years later to say "thanks"! They deserve their salaries however small, they deserve their right to bargain despite not always winning the negotiation. Despite all the talk about teachers being greedy, teachers here don't get raises and are willing to make concessions. Simply seek the facts, the truth.

This nation needs to continue to be great - we need - more than ever, to protect education funding wherever possible and provide the best to our children.

To those offended - accept my apologies but I needed to express myself about this issue.

I want to say thanks to all my own teachers - some were better than others - but to Miss Mercer, Miss Muster, Mr. McCutcheon, Miss Pinder, Mr. Honsinger and so many others - you made impacts on my life and your support for me up until the day I graduated my wonderful high school will never be forgotten. I mean when your 10th grade spanish teacher keeps tabs on you throughout your high school career and then comes to watch you graduate - well that just goes beyond what's required but it comes from wanting to see that student succeed, to see potential that the student does not even see and for me it wasn't until my twenties that I realized what these teachers did for me. Thanks...................................We must do all we can to save our teachers and our schools.

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