Monday, March 7, 2011

Teachers inspire us to do many things

I got into a heated debate with Facebook friends after posting a clip from The Daily Show on my wall. I thought some of Jon Stewart's points were very interesting.

It's a sign of weakness, but all the pundits on this whole Wisconsin stand-off-teacher's union-budget collapse issue are making me crazy. I don't get where these folks were educated. Who taught them?

Why is it that a family of four making $250,000 is considered near poverty by some pundits advocating for a tax break, but a teacher who may make $55,000 is just overpaid? Why is that a Wall Street contract is valid despite a government bailout — because it's a contract — and a teacher's contract shouldn't be valid?

I am particularly incensed by the complaints that teacher's work part time. Here are some thoughts from a writer-teacher on the MFA Confidential blog with Jessie Morris. I appreciated her comments. People are riled up about this topic. The people commenting on this post are spirited. Some are tired of the whining and others are defending teachers. It's interesting to see how people break down a teacher's work day.

I worked briefly (as in one school year) as a substitute teacher. I wasn't very good at it. I felt out numbered and unprepared — despite that three-hour training the school system provided. I found a part-time job that paid less and I was happy.

This morning, I also ran across a post in The Denver Post. Ed Quillen asks:  Who are the overpaid parasites? He shares how public employees have helped him, his family and friends over the years. The story of the state trooper, who helped a friend deliver a baby, is very touching.

My favorite line in Quillen's opinion piece is this:
Like any other good American, I have fantasies of winning the lottery or producing a best-seller, so that I could be rich enough to become a Republican and start demonizing the public sector.
You can read the full text here.

I just don't get why everyone is hating government workers — especially teachers — so much now. I'm not suggesting teachers be sainted. They have a difficult job. They have an awesome responsibility to educate our children despite all the outside influences on a child's time.

Teachers played a big role in my life as a kid. My parents were there every step of the way, but so were my teachers. They stayed after school was over to help with class projects; personal projects like for 4-H competitions; and for special academic and extra-curricular activities. I remember many were also students on nights, weekends and throughout the summer to earn more advanced degrees. I also recall some had part-time jobs to help supplement their family's income. They were no different than the rest of us as they tried to make a living for their families.

Why can't we show teachers a little respect during this conversation about budget cuts and wage negotiations? Many teachers give additional hours each day to prepare for their classroom instruction time and many use their own money to support their classrooms.

I understand teachers are not untouchable in this budget crisis. No one is, but where are our priorities. Teachers are often the ones who inspire our youth to do great things. I doubt all this rhetoric about teachers will inspire many youth to become teachers in the near future and that makes me sad.

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