I need to keep remembering that most people who write letters to the editor aren't necessarily people who have a clue. Case in point, a recent letter that appeared in the local paper this week that mentioned that "it doesn't take any money to teach a kid" coupled with the zinger, "what we need are dedicated teachers and there aren't any."
I know that some people consider teachers to be a step below a used car salesman in the pecking order of life, but comments like that just frost my cookies. To whit...the last time I checked the school district wasn't getting any of its electricity for free so I can argue that it does cost some money to teach a kid. And granted, if you home school, maybe it doesn't cost anything to teach a kid, but if you expect the public schools to raise your child (and sadly, many people do) I don't think you can expect teachers to do it for free. After all, everyone else who has a job gets paid for it, and I think teachers should as well. Considering that I'll probably retire before the school loans are paid off for the bachelor's and master's degrees (masters' are just about mandatory these days), it would be nice to not be considered a volunteer.
As for dedication...hummmmm....I was at school at 6:15 am this morning and left at 6:30 pm this evening. I brought home 120+ homework assignments to grade, will probably spend several hours putting names in my grade book, entering the grades I've taken so far, finish grading some quizzes, update the grades on the computer (so they can be uploaded), planning for next week, and checking off daily science assignments. When that's done I'll spend most of Sunday working on grad school assignments for myself so that I can continue to be the best teacher I can.
Notice how much time I have in there to do anything like, say, clean house? Spend time with my hubby? Do laundry?
I go to all my kids football games. I go to all the basketball games. I'm at every dance. I go to every play and every concert. I don't get paid for any of these. But I go because I think it's absolutely criminal that there are more kids on the field or on the stage than there are parents in the audience.
I am not alone. In my building there are a lot of us - well over half the staff - who do this kind of thing each and every day. We buy the kids lunch because there was no money or food at home and the parents can't get it together to apply for free and reduced lunch. We raise money to purchase food to send home with some of our kids because the last meal they'll eat will be lunch at school on Friday until breakfast at school on Monday. (I don't want to even think what happens to these kids during the summer.) We buy, beg, and donate winter coats for our kids because they are coming to school in t-shirts when it's snowing. We're at all the events because the parents aren't. We're mentoring at-risk kids trying to convince them that they can rise above the poverty, the abuse, and their own fear and make something of themselves. We are there for the kids.
Because that's all it comes down to - it's for the kids.
So don't give me any snotty platitudes about there not being any dedicated teachers, especially when you're sitting on your butt watching NFL and NASCAR all weekend long and aren't giving up a second of your precious time to make this world a better place.
I am. One kid at a time....