I love teachers. Not only was I a teacher for over 30 years, but I represented teachers as the president of the Virginia Education Association from 2008-2012, so I know first hand that teachers have the purest hearts of anyone on the planet. They are dedicated to their craft, they are committed to their students, and in my mind, they are truly the unsung heros and “sheroes” of our society.
Let’s face it, however…teachers have been getting a really bum rap lately, and I for one have grown really tired of it. From President Obama to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his various minions in the Department of Education…a pox on all your houses for every time you have uttered the phrases “failing schools” and “bad teachers” in your efforts to sell the country on the propaganda that all of the schools in this country are somehow going to hell in a handbag. Shame on all of those who seem to believe that children can be reduced to a single test score or that their teachers’ entire careers should hang in the balance based on the collective scores of their students using a flawed formula that proves nothing other than the guy who came up with VAM might just have some swampland he would be willing to sell in Florida to the next gullible buyer.
I have witnessed–and I have felt–the demoralization that goes with the negative rhetoric that has become part of the public perception around public education. It is true that a lie repeated often enough becomes accepted as truth. The media has certainly bought the negative rhetoric, and so we have false prophets like Michelle Rhee and others who are actively trying to undermine the very fabric of the country by undermining the public’s confidence in the public school system.
Are there problems with the current system? Of course there are. What would you expect when politicians are shrinking the resources that schools need and policy makers set such impossible expectations that there is no way to succeed? The trouble is that many of the problems with the current system are self-inflicted by the systems which govern what we do and how we do it. It is nonsensical, but it is a fact nevertheless.
What I want to say to my teacher friends and colleagues today, however, is that I hope you have had a wonderful Teacher Appreciation Day. I hope someone has stopped to say “Thank You” for all you do. I hope your students realized that this was a day to show their appreciation. I hope your administrators showed their gratitude. I wish I could wave a magic wand and get the media to do a better job of understanding what you do and why what they say is often untrue. But perhaps with enough of us standing up and saying “Enough already,” someone will start to take note. In the meantime, Happy Teacher Appreciation Day. I certainly appreciate what you do, and I wanted to say “Thank You,” myself.