Saturday, December 10, 2011

Time to stand up for our teachers

When my days in the Marine Corps are over, I want to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a school teacher.  There are not enough Black men teaching school and I want to do whatever I can to show young kids that not all Black men have gone to the dogs. 

Men in our community like Mr. Hayward, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Smith set the example of the kind of teacher I want to be when I get the opportunity.  They were tough and harsh when I acted up in class and they didn’t “spare the rod” when I needed to be disciplined.  To this day I still don’t know how a man as thin as Mr. Hayward was able to generate so much power when he swung the paddle?  

I would venture to say that teachers are some of the most underpaid workers in the work force.  Teachers surely can’t be teaching for the money.   Most are doing it because they have a passion for helping young people succeed and want to see them make something out of themselves. Like many of them, I want to be a part of the solution instead of sitting on the sideline complaining and not making things happen.  

Our society is so backwards when it comes to paying our teachers. Teachers are entrusted with an enormous part of the development of our children, yet athletes, actors, and singers are being paid millions of dollars to do exactly what for us? 
A lot of teachers spend a good amount of time teaching non-school related items that some kids aren’t being taught at home.  They are spending their hard earned money on material for their students because the school board doesn’t have enough money to buy the things they need to make the learning environment more productive. 

Teachers do a wonderful job of helping in the promotion of social integration.  Schools bring children from different backgrounds and cultures together to provide a shared sense of identity.  The stability of our society depends heavily on schools to help with the socialization of all children.
We are going to lose a lot of wonderful teachers if we don’t start fighting for them.  We have counties and districts all over the state of Georgia that have plans to lay off a lot of their educators.  One major fall out of having fewer teachers is the student to teacher ratio. Instead of classes having 15-18 kids, they will now have 25-30 kids per class.   Now our kids are going to have less one on one time with their teacher because of pure numbers. 
I have read article after article about the reasons for the cut backs and the excuses politicians use to try and justify the shortage of money for education.  I’m not buying it.
At the same time, I am having trouble finding information about states cutting back on prison budgets, or the amount of money per inmate tax payers are paying private prisons.  We have states here in America that spends more money on prisoners than they do on their teachers. 
Teachers need our help.  Things will not change until we stand up and fight for the teachers who are being given pink slips.  The future of education depends heavily on the ability to hold on to and attract new teachers into our schools.   
The elected officials in the House of Representatives and Congress need to hear from all of us.  Let’s stop accepting their lame excuses.  Make calls or send as many e-mails as you can.  Their contact information is public and it’s going to take all of us to get involved and demand that they stop cutting funds from our schools. 
Our elected officials are supposed to be the voice of the people, so we need to see them standing up for the education system.  Ask the hard questions, especially during election season when they are traveling the state, shaking hands and kissing babies. 
Ask them if they took a pay cut this year in order to save a teacher’s job?  Certainly if they can find money to build new prisons, or raise millions of dollars trying to get elected, they can find money to pay our educators.   
Originally published by the Charlton County Herald on May 18, 2010

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