The horrific storm that hit central Oklahoma has, once again, shined a spotlight on the dedication, selflessness and heroism of public school teachers. Moore, Oklahoma, the town that is no more, lost 9 students when an elementary school took the full force of what has been determined to be an EF5 tornado. The monster storm flattened the one-story structure with 200 MPH winds and debris harnessed by the funnel cloud of destruction.
As the school was being transformed into a pile of scrap metal, wood and glass, teachers were protecting the students as best they could. One heroic teacher jumped on three third-graders, protecting them with her body as a car tossed into the air came crashing down around them. Rescuers pulled the children and the teacher out of the rubble alive, as her heroic actions saved her own life and the lives of three children. All of the students expressed their gratitude by telling the world how she saved their lives.
This is not the first time teachers have stepped up to put their lives on the line to protect the children they teach. In Newtown, Connecticut teachers saved lives and heroically stood up to the face of death as they shielded their charges. When Virginia Tech was under attack by a crazed gunman, teachers put themselves in danger when they blocked the mass killers attempt to murder more than he already had. And in Columbine, Colorado teachers used every means possible to save as many lives as they could even if it meant giving up their lives so students would be safe.
There are countless stories all across America that tell of teachers risking their lives for the students they love. There is not a job in the land that produces more heroes, more dedicated people who sacrifice their lives for the students and children they teach and supervise.
Yet, when states feel the need, teachers are one of the first groups whose jobs will be cut or eliminated because of money issues.During the last election Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated that the nation has enough teachers, and others from the Republican Party have for years blamed teachers for every social ill in the country.
Poverty has a greater influence in test data than poor teachers. In fact, Dianne Ravitch, past Deputy Secretary of Education and one of the leading experts on US education states that if you take the children of poverty out of the matrix on national test data America is at the top of all countries. The American middle class and wealthy students are learning and have been learning at the same rate for the past fifty years.
The achievement gap between students who live in poverty and the rest of population is both staggering and out of the control of the teachers who instruct those children. There are students who come to school so they can eat. Students who are so tired and can barely keep their eyes open as the result of sleep deprivation. Or students whose families have been evicted from their home and they’ve been forced to sleep in a car.
Teachers every day face more challenges than most other professionals do in lifetimes. Teachers have been and will be the backbone of communities all across America just as they are in Moore, Oklahoma. American public school teachers accept their charges as their own — bringing comfort, stability and models of humanity for the poor of the poor.
Most public school teachers are compensated at the bottom of college educated professional scale, with many having more years of experience and education than newly hired professionals in other fields.
The public has placed a great burden on public school teachers. They have become the scape goat for all of society’s ills, they have become surrogate mothers and fathers and they have become heroes, willing to die for the students they love as if they were their own.
With all that responsibility of educating, protecting and loving all the public school children of America, don’t you think teachers should be elevated in the eyes of society by bringing teacher compensation into the 21st century?