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Lily Eskelsen's picture

A teacher from Wisconsin was wearing a button that read: National Kick a Teacher Day.

I don’t know her. But I know what she’s saying.
For political reasons, it seems to me, some high profile politicians have decided to make public school teachers the scapegoat for a bad economy (caused by Wall Street tycoons that got to keep their bonus billions for causing a global financial meltdown, by the way).

But it doesn’t end there. One group concerned about low voter turnout blamed teachers for not instilling the importance of voting. People aren’t recycling enough because teachers didn’t stress it enough.

I was in a group of earnest doctors concerned about childhood obesity that we should hold public school teachers accountable for the weight to body mass ratio of their students.

It seems that if there’s a problem out there, there is an arrow that points to public school teachers as the source of all that’s wrong. It’s convenient to have someone to blame. But it’s wrong. Today’s teachers are incredible.

Today’s teachers are doing the most important work in the Universe. They are teaching the most diverse learners our country has ever seen.

They are building a culture in our schools that all children must achieve to high standards, knowing that no two children are identical. Knowing that their students need personal attention and individualized instruction and encouragement and discipline and guidance.

Today’s teachers spend time before and after school planning lessons and grading papers and calling parents and preparing for the concert and the play and the science fair.

They pull out of their own pockets dollars to buy things for the health experiment and the art project and the Mother’s Day handcrafted gift. I know teachers to pay for a field trip experience they want for their kids because the district cut funding for buses. I know teachers who have bought a coat for a child who didn’t have one.

Today’s teachers are as creative, as dedicated, as inspirational as any this country has ever seen, and they’re doing all they do in an atmosphere that has gone beyond disrespectful. Politicians have their own reason for undermining the status and respect of today’s teachers.

But most teachers report that they continue to enjoy enormous support among parents and grandparents and their students. They understand that the “kick a teacher” toxicity may begin to take a toll on that support, but today’s teachers are determined to put their students first. Nothing will stop us from doing our jobs.

Tuesday, May 3rd is National Teacher Day.

Today’s teachers deserve a day. They deserve respect.

They deserve the tools and conditions they need to serve their students. They deserve a thank you and a pat on the back and a hug from somebody who knows how hard they are working.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be that somebody.

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