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Dear People Who Appreciate and Support Educators,
THANK YOU. Seriously. You are largely responsible for keeping good teachers in the profession. Without your gratitude, support, and encouragement, this country would know what a real education crisis looks like as opposed to the one manufactured by politicians and media outlets in the pockets of Big Business.
The idea that policymakers are on an intentional crusade to destroy public education is no longer merely the fantastical musing of closeted conspiracy theorists. There is real evidence to suggest that the interests of for-profit testing companies and charter school backers — and, in turn, the politicians and mouthpieces in bed with these groups — take precedence over those of the nation’s children and educators. Despite such evidence, these policymakers and media moguls have been successful in convincing the masses that our education system is in duress and the only way to ameliorate the problem is to focus on standardized testing, withdraw funding from public school districts, attack teacher unions, and expand the voucher system, all veiled efforts to make public school sustainability impossible and drive our nation’s youth into less expensive, billionaire-run, highly selective (which means able to turn away “undesirables” — i.e. students of low socioeconomic status who traditionally score lower on standardized assessments and who need the most help of all) charter schools staffed with inexperienced educators held to lesser standards than their public school counterparts.
Snakelike policymakers and news outlets have been so successful in their endeavor, one only need turn to the comments section of any online article or video vaguely discussing education to find citizens regurgitating the very same our-education-system-is-broken and throwing-money-at-the-problem-isn’t-the-answer jargon planted in their minds by crafty political and special interest spokespersons. To say support for educators is scarce is an understatement.
How Policy is Affecting Education
With support and appreciation for educators in the proverbial toilet, many good, hard working teachers are flocking from the profession in droves. They can see the writing on the wall and are getting the hell out before the powers that be completely dismantle the institution these educators so strongly believe in, destroying American students’ abilities to think critically and function in a global society and teachers’ abilities to make a difference in the lives of others and pay rent.
Where are they going? Anywhere but in education, including (and especially) to politicians’ supposedly perfect private and charter schools where pay and working conditions are even worse than in the public schools from which these teachers are running.
This means many students formerly instructed by knowledgeable, seasoned professionals are now greeted by high teacher turnover resulting in a never-ending rotation of first year teachers with little to no experience or worse, Teach for America and other desperate campaign recruits with exactly zero understanding of pedagogy and educational psychology.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that what policymakers and the media are touting as education reform intended to improve our nation’s public schools are really just measures to eliminate the financial burden of offering public education to the people, yet so many American citizens remain blind to this not-so-clever slight of hand.[/nextpage]
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Why This Makes You So Critical
Each year, teachers across the country are faced with the decision to either stick it out and attempt to do right by the students sitting in their classrooms or to throw in the towel like so many colleagues before them. The focus on standardized curriculum; removal of lessons on life skills, critical thinking, and creativity; destruction of unionized bargaining and, in turn, demand for adequate supplies and working conditions; loss of district funding; out-of-pocket costs; increased responsibilities; ever-changing evaluation and accountability measures; and lack of administrative, parental, and public support tests teachers’ will daily.
What gets them through, you wonder? YOU. Your kind words. Your shows of gratitude. Your recognition and thanks. You get them through. You keep them in the positions in which our nation so desperately needs them. You do that.
The parent’s email to the teacher stating her child loves the teacher’s class gets them through.
The student’s comment in passing that the assignment or project he’s been working on has really taught him a thing or two gets them through.
The family’s handwritten note thanking the teacher for a year of challenges and personal growth gets them through.
The former student’s visit to the teacher after graduation just to say “hi” and brag about her successes since leaving the teacher’s class gets them through.
The community member’s encouraging and complementary comment on an online news article gets them through.
You, Appreciators and Supporters of Educators, get them — us, the nation’s educators — through, day in and day out. You convince us that what we’re doing does make a difference. You inspire us to remain where our hearts are and to fight for what we believe is right for our country’s children. You remind us that not everyone thinks we’re worthless cogs in a broken system.
YOU are the reason we do what we do. YOU make getting up tomorrow and facing the obstacles that await us that much more tolerable. YOU are the stitches holding our rapidly fraying resolve together.
And we can’t thank YOU enough for that.