From John Curry, October 1, 2011
"The countries that are passing us by right now are the countries that are investing in education. In Wisconsin, where the graduation rate was the highest in the nation, they now have the distinction of having removed more teachers than any other state. State Rep. Matt Huffman feels that this is the right direction to go but isn't a broken clock right twice a day? In other words Matt, what you advocate is broken and will lead to the destruction of education in America."
Lima News Oct. 1, 2011
Charles Thomas: Teachers, public schools have changed many lives
October 1, 2011
When I think of the current climate of attacking teachers and public-sector workers, I can't help but think back to those early years of my youth. A time when money was short and dreams were big and, in fact, too big and too far away.
There was always someone there to say never give up on your dreams.
The teachers at the school in my neighborhood, the public-school teachers, were always there to keep pushing and providing, leading and directing.
I never had a great vision for the future, but the little vision I did possess, I was allowed to share with any one of them. A vision lacks purpose unless it is shared with someone. Those teachers provided so much more than just that.
There were times when we had no money for milk; times when my brothers and I had no winter coats; times when we were all provided with Y memberships. It was the teachers at Lowell Elementary who provided for us.
There are children today who would never make it to Cedar Point in the summer, never have a good set of clothing to wear to school. Teachers are forever reaching into their pockets to provide a small favor in the lunchroom. Those terrible teachers who are bringing this country down, how dare you take me under your wings and teach me to fly. I have no idea what school was like in an alternative or private school, but I am sure that problems existed there just like they did in the public schools.
I am offended that all those people who helped me get through those early years are now being targeted as the reason why we are facing economic chaos. Parents, undoubtedly, have the greatest influence on children outside the schoolroom, but after that, teachers are the most important people they encounter each day. Parents can point out the dangers and pitfalls in life, but when it comes to math and science, only teachers have the capacity to change the direction of minds and hearts.
As a juvenile probation officer, I often told teachers, “There is not enough money for me to be a teacher” because of things that I witnessed.
While acknowledging that all schools and teachers are not perfect, would it make much sense to cut down an entire apple tree simply because it produced a few bad apples?
Having met so many teachers and public-sector workers through that job, it should be offensive to all that this governor would use them as the scapegoat to push his agenda with a trail of misleading information. He has stated numerous times that public sector-workers do not pay a dime for health care. He also has stated many times that public-sector workers have a much better retirement system than private-sector workers. Both statements are not accurate.
He further would like to deny collective-bargaining rights to these groups as well and I find that interesting in that the largest governing body in this country, the U.S. Congress, collectively bargains every day and in fact has minority and majority whips to get people back in line with their perspective groups as a whole.
Didn't the tea party collectively agree to not agree with raising the debt ceiling? Isn't that a good example of collective bargaining? If you are willing to acknowledge that this truly is the greatest country on this Earth, then you also need to acknowledge that it was the history of greatness in the public schools that got us there.
The countries that are passing us by right now are the countries that are investing in education. In Wisconsin, where the graduation rate was the highest in the nation, they now have the distinction of having removed more teachers than any other state. State Rep. Matt Huffman feels that this is the right direction to go but isn't a broken clock right twice a day? In other words Matt, what you advocate is broken and will lead to the destruction of education in America.
A recent Gallop Poll asked: “Other than your parents, who had the most influence on your life?” More than 97 percent of the respondents said “a teacher.” It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to beat up on the people who have so much influence on your child's life and to tear down the institution that millions of children have thrived in while, at the same time, acknowledging that schools can do better.
Public schools across America were and always will be the bedrock of this nation. I will vote no on State Issue 2 and no on House Bill 136, which takes funding away from public schools.
A scholarly person once said, “Life means for us constantly to transform into light and flame all that we are or meet with.” Vote to keep the flames strong in public schools.
Charles Thomas is a lifelong Lima resident and retired juvenile probation officer. He writes a guest column for The Lima News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.