Yes, it’s that time of the season, friends: the first day of winter, and the day my grades are due! I’m feeling particularly pleased and generous today, in spite of this ridiculous story that holds up one abusive cokehead teacher as emblematic of all public school teachers in New Jersey (h/t RealClearPolitics yesterday.) You think I’m kidding? Take a good, long, trainwrecky look at it. The author, the newspaper, and the entire state of New Jersey should be ashamed of it. (Why do we never read stories like this in the newspaper about abusive, drug-addled investment bankers and how difficult it is to fire them in spite of their graft, corruption, psychopathy, and danger to the global economy? Why are stories about professional male athletes like this actively suppressed, and their victims trashed whenever stories about them leak into the media? Gee–I wonder!)
Can we teachers, professors, and other educators let this go unanswered? I don’t think so. So that’s why I’ve named this observance of the Winter Solstice the Thank a Non-Cokehead, Non-Abusive Teacher Day! The warriors against America’s teachers have loads of worst-case-scenarios like the teacher in this story, but we never hear from all of the people who are happy with teachers. We never hear about the teachers who stoop down to help tug off boots or tie shoes, even if they’re not your teacher (or your kid’s teacher). We rarely hear about the hundreds of thousands of teachers who are spending their own money to keep their students in crayons, glue, and pencils. We almost never hear about the days and evenings teachers spend after school tutoring their students, addressing parents’ concerns, and/or working with social services to ensure their students are living in safe, clean, and supportive environments. You know, the kind of things teachers do that they consider part of their jobs, for which they’re never given any credit (or even any respect these days.)
All you have to do is thank a teacher who made a difference in your life, and give her or his name and affiliation and the approximate date of your encounter as you feel comfortable giving. Here’s mine:
There are so many teachers who have been important in my education that it’s difficult to pick just one, but I think I’d like to say thanks to Mrs. Obenshain, my first-grade teacher back at Central Elementary in Sylvania, Ohio, in 1974-75. Mrs. Obenshain, you may no longer be alive now, but you were the first teacher I remember who recognized my academic talent and encouraged it. I loved writing “stories” for you on that fat-lined paper with the space on top for illustrations. You were also the first teacher to tell me to stop shouting out all of the answers and to give other children a chance–that was probably a good lesson to learn at age 6, too. And as far as I know, you never a cokehead, nor were you ever abusive, even though some of my classmates undoubtedly deserved it. Thanks a lot for your years of service to the Sylvania schools.
Et vous, mes amis? Which non-cokehead, non-abusive teacher would you like to thank today?