I am a teacher. For over three decades, I have taught in the public school system. Most of the teachers and administrators with whom I have worked have been focused on what is good, what is right, what is important for the students in their charge. The number one priority for all has always been the well-being – present and future – of the children who grace their classrooms.
Our system is not broken. We are not broken. Like any organization, there are areas that require attention, that demand improvement. But our system does not need to be demolished and buried. The work that we do must not be vilified.
I have two college degrees in education. I know educational theory and practice. I live it every day. I have seen programs come and go and come back again in a shinier package. I have watched as experts with little or no experience in this field craft legislation and directives that are meant to guide my instruction. I have watched as their solutions to correct the ills of this system crash and burn. Then, with my colleagues, I have endured the wrath of scorn for the failures produced.
Yet we stand strong and show up again and again, day after day to greet the children in our classrooms. We are not broken.
Public schools exemplify the core principle of our government in that they are “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We accept all students and work tirelessly to meet all of their needs. We take the financially secure and those just getting by. We welcome those with all abilities and all disabilities. We include all who behave and those who disrupt, all who are emotionally stable and those who truly need, but cannot afford, the appropriate services. We do not have the option to turn away students, nor would we ever have the heart to do so.
We arrange the seats of thirty or more children in the best possible manner to accommodate all of their personalities, behaviors, and a myriad of social, emotional, physical, and medical needs. We adjust daily to their moods, their worries, their fears, and the daily experiences from the outside world that they carry on their backs and in their hearts as they join us in the classroom.
Still we are not broken.
There is no other profession that I would ever want to call my own. I know I have made a difference in the lives of so many students. I’ve had a part in creating doctors and nurses and accountants and clerks and engineers… They’ve all grown up. They’ve all found success in their lives. They’ve all made me proud.
Some have even become teachers themselves. I pray they will experience the same joy I have been rewarded in my career. I pray they will stand strong – unbroken.
Teachers within the public school must be afforded the respect they are due. They are intelligent, compassionate, creative individuals who are developing the heroes of the future. Allow them to take flight and to use their talents to make the changes that so desperately need to be made…
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.