January 2011 Issue
December 19, 2010

Letters: This is why we're educators

Source: NYSUT United

This is why we're educators

There are many diverse and interconnected reasons why we educate our children.

In a free society, citizens who can read, write and compute will contribute to the stability, strength and vitality of a nation. We educate so we can have licensed, certified and qualified experts to run our health care systems, guide our economic concerns, educate our children and apply diplomacy to political issues.

We educate so we can communicate with our citizens and the world about complex political, economic, health, civic and environmental issues.

We educate so the arts, religions and courts can develop artisans who will express our society's creativity, the religious who will enlighten and guide our souls and spirits, and judges who will apply the law with equality, fairness and knowledge. We educate so our citizens can understand and practice the principles of ethics, morality and humanism.

We educate so our citizens will be able to find employment and secure work to support themselves and their families. We educate so our citizens will know what has happened in the past and will not repeat the same mistakes.

We educate because knowledge along with the ability to think and to reason will enable our society to evolve to ever-higher levels of consciousness and ethical behavior. Education should be utilized to allow our descendents to acquire all of our knowledge and then to surpass us with even higher knowledge.

No greater knowledge exists than in understanding that we are brothers and sisters, that we are part of the family of mankind and that we should love one another as ourselves.

Francis Gentile | Dobbs Ferry

Degrading educators isn't the answer

Isn't it a tad bit intellectually dishonest to look at American educators and blame them for the ills of society and the failures of an educational system, even if we accept the notion that the "system is broken"?

This country has systemic, and some may even say endemic, social problems that wreak havoc on our nation's families. Drugs, violence, parental abandonment and poverty are the conditions de rigueur in too many of our families and communities.

Combine those societal ills with the utter lack of respect for many of the institutions that have made this country so great and we have a culture and society that do more harm to our nation's children than any teachers union.

When a student enters a classroom too hungry to write or too tired to read whose fault is that? When a society is in a race to see who can be the most vapid and crude, the Race to the Top may just not be enough.

Yes, some say we know how to fix our schools — just look at Harlem Children's Zone or other exemplary programs. These are wonderful models of systems that support, nurture and love students from birth to graduation.

But let us be honest. They succeed because they either take in families who are supportive of their mission or they provide the support to children in the absence of their families. Can we as a society afford to build enough Harlem Children's Zones to take the place of the American family, and moreover, do we want to?

So maybe the blame is a tad misplaced. Do we tell the cardiologist it is her fault that you have coronary artery disease when you spent a lifetime eating bacon, egg and cheese for breakfast? Do we have the right to scold the accountant when you show up at his office having not paid taxes for three years?

There is much good to say about education reform. Honest and hardworking teachers want to continue to improve their practice and help each and every child.

Unions, administrators and teachers must take a good hard look at how business has been done and right the wrongs that exist. It is our duty as professionals and our responsibility to our country.

But there are no supermen or women on either side of this debate. We can only begin to address the needs of our students when those who delight in maligning and degrading the men and women who chose to educate our nation's youth stop playing superhero and admit that the problems of this nation can't be solved by the Justice League headquartered in Washington or Wall Street, but rather by the good men and women who live on Main Street.

Michael Schlank | Stony Brook

Teachers will always be unfairly targeted

Teachers will always be made the scapegoat for economic and societal ills. In my community, people will still purchase expensive automobiles, maintain their country club affiliations, take exotic vacations several times a year and not flinch at the cost of gasoline at the pump. Yet, they unload their frustrations over the increased cost of living on the teachers in their community. They say teachers are overpaid and underworked.

I loved teaching and did so for 35 years. But unfortunately, in our society, teachers will always be targeted.

Charles Northshield | Received e-mail