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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Graduation rates up -- thank you, teachers

Scott Maxwell’s

I know it's not terribly popular nowadays. But I thought I'd take a moment to say thanks and congratulations to one of Florida's favorite punching bags — the public school teacher.

The latest reports show that Florida has its best graduation rate ever. And there will be all manner of politicians, bureaucrats and pundits heaping praise upon themselves for supposedly making this happen.
But I had a novel idea — thanking the teachers.

See, teachers have become the boogeymen in most of the efforts to dismantle public schools. They are portrayed as lazy incompetents who don't care about education, their students or anything other than collecting a union-protected paycheck.

We see these unfair portrayals in the halls of Tallahassee, from think tanks eager to siphon money away from public schools and into private ones, and even in the pages of this newspaper.

Quite simply, I reject it.

Most of the teachers I know got into their profession for the right reasons. They work hard. Some even change lives. And they don't exactly get rich for doing so.

Certainly there are exceptions to the rule. There are in every profession. But there's no denying that these most recent gains were made with the very same people leading the classrooms that many try to demonize.

Former State Sen. Charlie Justice — the husband of a teacher — once had a great line about school achievement in Florida. He said: "Every academic success we have in Florida, credit is given to some acronym-riddled program that's created in the halls of Tallahassee. And every failure is laid at the feet of our hardworking teachers like my wife. It's just wrong."

So today, I think I'll just say thanks.

Thank you, teachers, for doing the best you can with what little you get.

Thanks for making a difference in so many lives.

And thanks for doing it in spite of those who constantly try to tear you down.

Taken from the Orland Sentinel:,0,136683.column

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