Education, Labor — December 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm

How much would you pay someone to take a bullet for your child?


Why would you hire a greedy parasite to watch and teach your children all day?

Teaching is a tough profession. It always has been, but lately it has become so much tougher thanks to the anti-union attacks teachers and other public employees. It’s becoming harder and harder to understand why anyone would want to be a public school teacher these days.

The anti-union attacks on teachers have been around for decades, starting with idea that teachers get paid a full-time salary but really don’t work full-time; that their cushy workdays end at 3:00 and they have summers off. This is a very shortsighted view and, if you know anyone who teaches, you know how hard they work and how much of that work goes well past 3:00 and the month of May. Often the lines between their personal life and professional life are blurred. To most teachers, teaching is really a calling more than a job.

Yes, there are bad teachers, just like there are bad police officers, lawyers, doctors and priests. There are bad people in every profession, but the good teachers far out weigh the bad. Again, I ask why anyone would want to be a public school teacher these days? We ask the near-impossible from these people and now, thanks to the swell of anti-union rhetoric since 2010, ask the near-impossible of teachers while portraying them as blood-sucking parasites.

And yet, there are still millions of men and women who get up early each morning and head to schools all over this country to wait for the arrival of our children. They then spend their entire day teaching them, caring for them, and protecting them, all for a very modest salary.

Tina Doepker, a elementary art teacher for the Southgate Community School District near Detroit (shown with some of her students in the photo on the left), told me that the teachers have moved past the money issue and onto the issue of teaching & learning conditions. They are fearful that, without the unions, certain aspects of their teaching environment that they have worked to maintain will get chipped away. This includes classroom size, start time and adequate breaks for the kids and teachers. They are also concerned about the breakdown of a what is, right now, a positive relationship with their administrators.

“We worry that the public no longer values what we do,” Doepker told me. “We aren’t looking to be put on a pedestal. We are just asking to be able do our jobs.”

Teaching has become a thankless job. So why do we still have so many dedicated people willing to do the work? It’s because they love children. They love teaching. They are thanked in a much less public way. They are motivated to do their job because of our kids. They are reminded day in and day out of why they teach when they see their students grow and learn.

I asked Tina would she still teach if things got worse. She said without a doubt, “Yes, It’s who I am.”

It is for this reason that teachers may be the most vulnerable public employee union members, the most vulnerable to attacks on union members that is only escalating.

On Thursday morning in the small town Newtown, Connecticut, we were reminded multiple times of just how special these men and women who spend their days with our children are.

The gunfire erupted during first grade teacher Kaitlin Roig’s morning meeting with her 14 students, what she called “a happy, amazing part of the day.” {…}

“When the shooting began, Roig said she quickly got up and closed her classroom door and ushered the children, all aged 6 and 7, into the class bathroom. She helped some climb onto the toilet so they could all fit. Roig said she then pushed a wheeled storage unit in front of the door.

“We all got in there. I locked us in,” she said. “I don’t know if [the gunman] came in the room… I just told them we have to be absolutely quiet.”

“If they started crying, I would take their face and tell them, ‘It’s going to be OK,'” Roig continued. “I wanted that to be the last thing they heard, not the gunfire in the hall.”

“I thought we were all going to die,” she said through tears. “I told the kids I love them and I was so happy they were my students… I said anyone who believed in the power of the prayer, we need to pray and those who don’t believe in prayer” think happy thoughts.

And then there’s THIS about two teachers who lost their lives trying to protect the children in her class.

“Newtown special-education teacher Anne Marie Murphy, 52, died Friday using her body to shield the students she loved, authorities told her 
father, Hugh McGowan of Katonah, N.Y., 
according to Newsday. Her body was found in a classroom, they told him, covering a group of children who died in the shooting.”

“A first responder said she was a hero,” he said.

The sixth of seven children, Murphy “was a very good daughter, a good mother, a good wife,” her mother, Alice McGowan, said.

Lauren Rousseau, 30, had just been hired as a permanent substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month and was felled in Friday’s rampage at her new school, her mother, Theresa Rousseau told the Daily Voice.

“Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” her mother said. “We will miss her terribly and will take comfort knowing that she had achieved that dream.”

Enough is enough. We need to stop those who are demonizing our teachers. We can’t continue to thrive as a country if we keep this undeserved and totally destructive narrative going. At the very least — and I mean the absolute very least — we must let our public school teachers have a voice. They should be able to collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions without being portrayed as greedy parasites. Not because they need more money (which they often do), but because our children need to learn in an environment suited for learning. Their voices are guides for how to help us teach our children and if those voices are silenced our country will suffer.