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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A debt of gratitude and respect


As a retired teacher of over 30+ years, I have participated in many fire drills, lock downs, “duck and cover” and other safety maneuvers in making sure our children stay safe while they are in school. Our school in Warwick even had a mock airplane crash drill with the help of the police and fire in case we ever had a plane crash since our school is in close proximity to Green Airport.

Safety precaution drills are a part of a student’s routine but as often as they occur, no one can fully prepare for what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Teachers are the first responders and they have the sole responsibility of keeping students safe from outside harm until the fire and police show up.

They showed in this December disaster that they had what it took to follow procedure and keep the children in those 2 classrooms particularly as safe as possible.

The principal died in the line of duty. By turning on that intercom, teachers became aware that something was wrong and immediately proceeded to safety mode. Six were gunned down in trying to protect the K to 4th grade children.

This is a time to reflect on how these teachers did what they had to do to protect their young students.

This is what teachers do. We protect as well as teach… Teachers plan, develop, and organize instruction. 

And this is exactly what was done at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Teachers had a plan that was developed. They organized and executed a plan of safety for the children. And they were effective in their attempt in getting those children out of the school to a safer location.

How ironic that these teachers today are considered heroes but tomorrow will be vilified once again when this incident passes through time.

We see that the corporate reformers remain silent. They, who have no educational component to them (nor have they been in a classroom) praise what those teachers did. They would evaluate their performance as high achieving!

But what happens tomorrow? What happens when “the time for mourning” is over? These same corporate reformers will once again criticize teachers, saying schools are failing because teachers are not doing their job.

These reformers will promote their manufactured and lack of evidence rhetoric that one must combine teacher evaluations with students’ test scores for the scores to increase. And if the scores don’t increase, close down the public school and replace it with a charter…and again the teacher-vilification process will be in working mode.

Let’s instead give the respect that is due to the teaching profession. Let’s give those teachers at Sandy Hook an “A+++” in their evaluation for their performance.

We need to get back to treating people of all professions with kindness and respect. And this is the season to begin this process. Christmas time is the perfect opportunity to begin the process of cultivating appreciation and esteem for teachers rather than attack and brutalize the profession. The phrase for this season should be “to promote not demote”…”Upgrade not degrade” the teacher’s profession.