A valentine for our teachers
I wanted to send a valentine to our teachers, who I believe could use a little love and appreciation from the communities they serve. See I recognize that not everyone views teachers the same. Some focus on unions, vacation days, and pension plans, most focus on test scores and bureaucracy. But for now, even if just for a moment, I’d like to focus on your contributions to our nation’s future. Sure, there are a small few who see teaching as just another job, but the vast majority of you teach because you care. You probably had a great teacher who inspired you, or went to a great school that encouraged you, or simply possess a desire to give back to your community by molding and shaping our collective future – OUR collective future. The fact is, today’s child will need to be tomorrow’s teacher, officer, paramedic, engineer, politician, doctor, lawyer, sanitation worker, soldier, mother, father, or whatever that child is destined to become; and you spend 5 days a week, over 180 days a year with those future citizens.
This valentine is for you because the vast majority of you are boiled down to mere statistics by some of our elected officials and school boards who mistakenly, even after being corrected by the public for decades, believe that standardized test scores are proof of your effectiveness. Legislation has replaced the apples on your desks with standards that tell you how to teach, and instead of providing you with the support you need to deal with the social issues that often accompany your urban and rural students, you’re supplied with ways to help “juke” the stats and make test scores artificially better. The focus on quality of education has been replaced with quantity, forcing you to cram information into your children’s heads instead of inspiring them to use what they learn effectively.
This valentine is for you because the supports you used to be able to count on have been monetized and are barely available, if present at all. I’m talking about the guidance counselors who were your partners in understanding social issues that affected children’s ability to learn. Nurses, who ensured your classrooms were full of healthy students. Librarians who made it a little more convenient and easy for kids to find the information they need. I’m talking about school boards who used to be on your side, and actually paid close attention to the tools you had access to, rather than being solely focused on property taxes and budget cuts.
As a parent of a school-age child and one that will be attending school in a few years, I recognize how difficult it can be to be effective when the parents of the children you are trying to mold are as disinterested in what’s actually happening in your classroom as those who think those standardized tests provide anything besides a number against the median. So this valentine is the hug you should be sharing with parents on “meet the teacher night” after agreeing to strategies that will enhance a child’s educational experience.
I write this valentine on behalf of other parents out there, who also understand that only through direct engagement and participation can we mold tomorrow’s citizens together. I write this valentine to teachers who care, teachers who inspire, and teachers who refuse to let today’s political struggles affect their willingness to get up every morning and mold tomorrow’s future.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The parents of tomorrow’s citizens