Its been tough to be a public school teacher
Its been tough to be a public school teacher the last few years. We have often been criticized for being obstructionists because we believe reforms should be based on facts and evidence and we have often been accused of being more interested in our salary, benefits and pension rather than our students.
This tragedy in Connecticut has weighed heavily on me but it also dawned on me that the people who ran towards the gunmen and who either died or risked their lives protecting children were public school teachers too.
Somewhere along the way teachers went from respected, often-revered members of the community to second-class citizens often marginalized. Done so by a government that says they believe in education but always cuts it first, the targets of well-financed groups that seek to profit off of education and by a society that blames us for the ills of society. Friends, poverty is not an excuse it is a terrible reality and until we put measures in place to mitigate it not all the charter schools, vouchers and merit pay programs in the world will make a dent.
My colleagues in Connecticut and their school district like most is facing budget cuts, were experiencing the same thing teachers all across the nation have been facing and like the vast majority of teachers do they put their children first. So the next time you want to criticize a teacher for having a pension or for not being able to overcome a child’s poverty or home life, the next time you want to demonize a teacher for not supporting reforms based on politicians guts or corporations bottom lines, I just hope you think about their sacrifices and even though your heart is heavy you are just as proud of them as I am.
Chris GuerrieriSchool Teacher