Archive | February 2018

In praise of our nation’s teachers

Politicians gloat when bashing teachers for failing public schools. Surely, the lack of public funding couldn’t possibly have any impact, could it? How dare I even make that suggestion? The GOP would rather starve public education that even consider, for a mere second, a tax increase to insure proper education for our youth. No, that’s not possible whatsoever to increase, even slightly, taxes to educate our youth. The GOP believes in tax cuts and spending, further delivering us into massive debt, then expecting public schools to survive budget cuts without end. The GOP spends, of course, but not on education. They spend mightily on defense and prisons. If a school fails, it’s the teacher’s fault. If the teachers are unionized, oh boy, watch out. The GOP’s venomous assaults on unions stings just as hard as their mouth lashings on immigrants. Yet they rarely offer praise to teachers who save student’s lives like the high school teachers in Broward County on February 14th who so bravely stepped up and even died to protect their students from an unhinged former student with automatic weapons mowing down everyone in sight. Go back a few years to Sandy Hook CT when six teachers including the school principal died fending off another armed and dangerous intruder who also killed 20 first grade children. Can we please say thank you to these and other teachers for their extraordinary commitment to their students? They surely deserve it. Sometimes, they teach in schools that are grossly underfunded, paying for essential supplies out of their own pocket. The GOP backed tax reform bill of 2017 wanted to deprive teachers from deducting some of these expenses from their taxes but it survived somehow. Teachers are devoted to education so they still pay for many of the supplies, even when they are not tax deductible like yachts, condos, and furs. Schools in poor inner cities and rural areas are a mess. The plumbing may not work. Paint may peel from the ceiling. Heat may be sporadic in winter. Yet instead of fixing the decrepit buildings, the GOP siphons off tax funds and shovels them into privately owned charter schools. It’s all about choice they say. I say it’s all about propping up their wealthy donors who own the charter schools and donate to their campaigns. If you want to send your child to private school, that’s entirely your choice. As a taxpayer, I shouldn’t be footing the bill. Neither should you but you are. Teachers are among the lowest paid professions in the country. In some states, the starting salaries are woeful. Graduates avoid the field because the pay isn’t enough to keep up with crushing student loans. The USA doesn’t support higher education either. In poverty stricken areas, students may arrive hungry, in dirty clothes and unprepared. Their parents may be unemployed, on drugs, or working three jobs to stay afloat. Who knows? Until we can link poor people with more essential services, their children will suffer. Those services, by the way, are on the way out. Our government doesn’t think they are essential as me and thousands of others do. Naturally, the funding sources are shoveled into the military or a wall on the southern border to protect us from what? I don’t know, do you? All the dangerous criminals I know are American citizens with the legal right to purchase assault rifles. The word assault should say it all. As for teachers, I applaud them. I admire their dedication and commitment to our youth. They stand strong against a government that doesn’t back them. The government doesn’t back poor old, disabled people like me either. Parents sometimes hold teachers accountable when their children fail, even though it may not be the teacher’s fault. Sure, there are incompetent, inept and bigoted teachers in the classroom who should not be there. Some take advantage of students in inappropriate ways. Some are just not suited for the classroom. The majority, however, are caring, smart and supportive of our students who deserve our backing and loyalty. They deserve a decent wage. They deserve better than what our government gives them. So do our students.