Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Teachers - A Rant

I've been looking at everything going on in the federal and state governments, and I feel like the halls of power are filled with crazy people.  In Texas, they've passed a revisionist version of history books that omit the word "slavery" and almost every important non-white from "history," decided that creationism is a far better way to go than with scientific fact, and are pushing abstinence instead of education for teaching kids about sex.  Why should this concern anyone?  Because, historically, the rest of the nation takes its educational cues from Texas.  If it's happening to us, it's going to happen to you.

But one of the most horrifying things to come up recently is the closing of schools and firing of teachers, and even cutting teachers' salaries.  We see commercials every day touting that we, as a nation, need to embrace math and science, and that we're falling dramatically behind as far as the education levels, yet they're going to push this kind of bullshit, and cripple the one group of people who can help raise the intelligence of our nation:  Teachers.  Makes no sense, does it?

Teachers are underpaid and underappreciated as it is.  A Teacher's (Yes, I know I'm capitalizing "Teacher."  I'm doing it on purpose because I think the title deserves some respect.  At least I'm being consistent about it.) salary, for the grades of kindergarten through 12th grade, is miserable.  They get paid low wages, are expected to sacrifice their time, and are often hated for doing their jobs by the very people they're trying to help.  In many cases, the students' parents dump their kids off at the school and say "that's your problem," without taking an active role in their children's lives, and then get angry when little Johnny or Susie don't get good grades.  A Teacher's job is often thankless, and no matter what they try to do, they often wind up demonized for having the gall to fail a child who either isn't working up to their potential or who doesn't do the work.  Let's face it, not everyone learns at the same speed, and for some students, extra care is needed.  But for a large number of them, the ones who don't care, failing grades isn't a matter of mental ability, but laziness.  And Teachers have to deal with that.

So I have a question for all those big-wigs in the hallowed halls of government who insist on cutting Teachers' salaries, closing schools, and demanding more from them:  How'd you get to where you are today?  Chances are, none of you were born with the knowledge of how to read, how to write, basic math and science principles or any of the other skills you seem to think you employ now.  What kind of job could you have afforded if you didn't have those skills?  Probably not the type that would afford you that then-thousand-dollar suit.  Probably not the type that would have allowed you the voice to enforce your will.  And how'd you get all that knowledge?

Teachers.

Every physicist, politician, actor, writer, police officer and astronaut began in the same place:  A classroom.  And if it weren't for the Teachers, none of you would have jobs.  If it weren't for the Teachers, none of you would have opportunity.  If it weren't for Teachers, think of how differently your life would've turned out.  And your gratitude to them, for giving you the life you lead now, for giving you the tools to succeed, is to forget about them, cut their salaries, and complain about the state of our education?  Shame on you.  Shame on you all.

There's an old saying, one I find particularly offensive:  Those who can, do.  Those who can't, teach.  I'd like to change that saying a bit:  Those who can had a Teacher to show them how.  It's time to start showing some appreciation for our Teachers.  They deserve it.

There have been several teachers who influenced my life.  Many of them, I'm ashamed to say, I can't remember their names (I'm terrible with names), but their faces are burned into my memory forever.  People like Mr. Williams, Mr. White, Mrs. Flanoy (Geez, I hope I spelled that correctly), Mrs. Hendricks, and Mr. Blair gave me the tools I needed to become what I am today.  But I'm always taken back to a precious handful of teachers who gave me the best advice, who put me on the right path toward this weird little life I have now.  I can never forget the advice of Ron White ("learn to wait tables"), Butch Broom ("take every opportunity to perform"), and Miles Wilson ("you're a weird kid, but I think you can write").

From the bottom of my black little heart, thank you.  Thank you, thank you.  Without your guidance, wisdom, and instruction, I wouldn't be what I am today.

So please, let the teachers in your life know what they mean to you.

Oh...And Buy My Books!

5 comments:

  1. I'm sharing this if you don't mind :)

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  2. WORD, Scott. Well said. I've never understood why teachers are so undervalued. I'd hate to think it's because it's a woman-dominated profession, but really, any excuse for diminishing the importance and contribution of teachers is a sack full of suck.

    Preach it loud! My sister is a Texas teacher (gods help her), and I cringe at what she's going to be teaching. One friend in San Diego managed to get around some of the abstinence-only bollocks, but it was a fine line she had to walk to do that. Not all teachers will care enough to make that much effort, especially considering the illegality of bringing up such horrible topics as the actual effectiveness of condoms.... Can't say I blame them for shying away when it's so easy to lose your job nowadays. Still, it's not right to put them in that position to start with.

    And it's not right to lie to our kids, either.

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  3. Nice post, Scott. I'm going to link to it.

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  4. I'm a little late to the party, but thanks for this post, Scott. I'm a teacher with twenty years in the saddle -- oof! -- and your post meant a lot to me. I'll definitely be passing this along to some of my battle-fatigued colleagues.

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