We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for teachers. They help shape us, mold our world views and develop us into the people we become as adults. Behind the family, the most significant vehicle for socialization are schools. Teachers and peers are added to the social roadmap of a child’s life. Teachers have a hard job in this because the influence of peers has proven to be a greater impact on behavior – something that teachers and administrators have the painstaking task to mitigate on top of being responsible for the educational development of ALL of their students. This has to be one of the most difficult jobs in our country while being one of the the most thankless and least paid. The current structure of schools systems speaks volumes of how we view teachers. A foreign observer with a 30,000 foot view of the state of education could only assume that learning just isn’t that important to us. Add to this perspective the fact that many other countries have better educational success than the U.S. and we shouldn’t be surprised at the scientific, mathematical and business advances of other countries. In the most recent OECD data, the U.S. ranks below the top ten in many categories in addition to being below the OECD average in many instances. One thing that many have said – and I agree along with some critical asterisks – is that we need to invest in education and increase funding. If you look at the data, expenditures on education in the U.S. tend to be more than the countries that are outperforming us. This begs the question, and would require further analysis, of what we’re actually investing in and where the money is going.
We know that teachers and education are of great importance to the future of our children. Acceptance of this fact does not absolve us from critically assessing how our children are treated within the school system. It also doesn’t absolve parents from being directly involved in their children’s educations. If anything, teachers and parents should be partnering together for the betterment of the child. Unfortunately in a world where both parents – or the only parent – has to work excessive hours just to make ends meet, many parents are not as involved as would be ideal. There are parents who have no involvement although they are capable. It’s sad to see a lack of interest in the development of a child and it’s beyond me how a parent could be so deliberately irresponsible – and it’s no wonder that a teacher’s job is even that more difficult!
Teachers on a whole provide inspiration to the students they teach. Just like there are some parents who are unwilling to be involved in the process, there are some teachers who, for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t be part of the process. Thankfully, teachers like this are few and far between. Anyone who commits his/her life to teaching and perseveres after experiencing the struggles has within him/her the type of passion for learning that we should all hope for in the lives of our children. But when you are confronted with a so-called educator who has an agenda that is not in line with the best interest of your child, you would be remiss for just accepting it and explaining it away with the morally weak excuse of “life isn’t fair.” Just another reason why a parent’s involvement in the education of the child is of the utmost importance. It would be wonderful to live in a world where I can send my child to school and blindly accept that all is well, which statistically, it is. But teachers are human – which means they’re fallible, not perfect, and some are downright deplorable. Again, you would never know unless you’re involved.
If you are involved and are confronted with a situation where your child is mistreated, bullied, abused, discarded, passed over, ignored, bored, ostracized, humiliated, discriminated against, rights are violated or learning is impeded, rage against it, y’all. Don’t be quiet. As I’ve said in other instances, silence + complacency = permission.
I would like to close this post with a shout-out to the inspirational educators I’ve had in my lifetime that have had a huge impact on who I became as a person – first and foremost, always and forever, Mr. Wheeler, in addition to Mrs. Collins, Mrs. Hill, Mrs. Wheeler, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Keatley, Mr. Maddox, Mrs. Cooke, Mr. Cooke, Mr. Nuckols and Mr. Sherman. I’m sure there are others, but these individuals are the first that come to mind for the positive impact that they had not only on me, but on other students as well.