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Front Page » September 16, 2008 » Opinion » Staff editorial: Teachers are important to all of us
Published 2,176 days ago

Staff editorial: Teachers are important to all of us


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Each day when I put words on paper to write for this paper I think about them.

Each day when a business or personal finance problem comes across my desk and I must use math skills to solve it I think about them.

Each day when I meet someone, whether it be in person, on the phone or over the internet, from a far away place, and I know where that is I think about them.

Who I think about are teachers I had when I went to school.

Each day, as adults in our society, we perform tasks that may seem mundane and simple, but so many of those things we do require skills we learned from someone.

Getting dressed, brushing our teeth and combing our hair may be things we learned from our parents; but a lot of what we seem to inherently know comes from teachers we had at one time or another.

While the greatest teacher we have in life may be experience, the basis for that experience comes from somewhere, and often it is from the education we received as a child. Through those daily tasks we tend to forget that the skills to complete them were taught to us.

I have often thought about where the most important part of my education came from. Like a house, a skill or the ability to perform a complex task needs a foundation. I have to say my mother and my youngest sister helped prepare me well for school before I went to kindergarten. I can remember as a four to five year old sitting with my sister in my room where she had set up a little blackboard teaching me the letters and simple numbers. She even taught me to spell psychology when I was five, and loved to have me spell it in front of her friends and our relatives.

So unlike many kids I was probably ahead of things when I entered kindergarten in 1957. But it was in school where those early skills were honed.

Teachers are important to us for our future. When I was a kid if something I was involved in went wrong in the classroom, you can bet my parents asked me "What did you do to cause this?" or "Did you create the problem?"

Today it seems most parents want to blame the teacher in the classroom for their kids problems, when the biggest influence in a kids life is his parents. People who blame teachers for all their kids ills ought to hold up a mirror to their faces and ask those questions.

When I was young I wanted to be a teacher; I held what they did in high regard. They were professionals, just like physicians, lawyers and engineers. Today we act like they are commodities, to be bought and sold, hoping to get the lowest bid we can, to get one to fill a classroom.

But these are the people who we entrust our children with, our most valuable resource and for many of us the only reason life is worth living. Our legislature acts like it is so generous when it gives more money for teachers, whether it be to increase the number of hires or for salaries. Yet they should give a lot more.

To some, those that have never tried it, teaching seems to be a cake job. On the surface it looks that way; seven hour days, three months off a year, many holidays and breaks, good benefits and a certain paycheck. Those are some of the good things about teaching.

But those same people who hold teachers up to ridicule also ought to think about the hot days in classrooms with 30 smelly kids, half of which who have parents who think school is just a baby sitting service and make no effort to help their kids education along.

They ought to be there at parent teacher conferences when parents tell the teacher the reason their kid is not learning is because of the teaching.

Never mind that mom loses herself in television all night after the kid comes home from school and dad downs a six pack and smokes a joint before eight o'clock.

They ought to be there when kids come in battered and bruised and the teacher has to report it to the authorities because it looks like the child is being abused. Talk about angry parents.

They ought to be there when a disruptive child messes up the entire day for 20 other students, yet the teacher has little recourse but to keep that child in their class.

They ought to be there when the teachers name is scrawled in chalk on the sidewalk outside their classroom with expletives and suggestions of what that teacher is or does.

The point is, nothing looks as hard to do as it is. And teaching is no exception.

Sure there are bad teachers, and some have large faults. Most are good and got into the profession because they want to make a difference in kids lives.

But beyond that there is nothing wrong with expecting to be paid what you are worth and that is why this state loses so many good teachers to other states. We talk a good story in Utah about our commitment to quality education, but we do little with dollars to back that up.

We keep producing more and more kids, and expect to keep teachers for less and less money.

It's time the public rose up and told the legislature that education needs to be our main priority, and to spend more time and consideration on that instead of working on bills concerning how big our neighbors garden shed is or whether someone is going to drink a beer flavored like a pineapple in the park on a Sunday afternoon.

As you watch many of the legislators comments and interviews about any legislative session, you can come to one conclusion.

Certain legislators, actually a good number of them, hate the media first, and teachers second.

We in the media accept the fact they hate us, but we don't do this job to feel the love; it is part of what we signed on for. But teachers? What did they ever do to gain that kind of disdain?

Remember the good that teachers did for you and then remember to do good for them.

Be a pain in the neck to the legislature so they will provide good pay for teachers and enough teachers to educate our kids and grandkids.

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