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Stop persecuting teachers

BY GUEST OPINION | MARCH 08, 2011 7:20 AM

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Amid the protests in Wisconsin over collective-bargaining rights, the attacks on public-sector unions by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and the symbolic firing of teachers in Providence, R.I., one of the most essential positions in ensuring successful future generations is under attack by the people they have dedicated their lives to serving.

Public-school teachers are the foundation of American society. We simply would not be where we are today without them.

I was raised in a family that valued education above anything else, and I was fortunate enough in my small hometown to come across amazing teachers who not only instilled this lesson in me as well, they also shaped the student I am today. I attended a private grade school and a public high school, and I can honestly say that the teachers who pushed me to achieve and taught me how to succeed worked in the public sector. It seems that every person I discuss education with also has wonderful things to say about their past teachers, so why are these hardworking and selfless people being targeted?

Regardless of how much power unions should hold, or whether the Democratic senators from Wisconsin were right to flee, you cannot deny that your teachers made you the person you are today. Is it so hard to believe that other teachers, in other cities and states are just as valuable?

The rhetoric being used against teachers, portraying them as lazy employees that leave at 3 p.m., could not be further from the truth. To be willing to deal with so many students on a daily basis, while also attempting to educate them, requires a dedication and patience that I know I do not possess. The people who dedicate their lives to do this, while being underpaid, are heroes.

These people deserve more. Their treatment both by politicians and other members of their state is appalling. How can we expect teachers to continue providing the most important aspect of a person’s worth if we treat them like this? Why would someone continue to sacrifice to make society better if they are being persecuted in return?

The people leading these attacks argue that some teachers today do not do an adequate job in educating students. They believe some teachers are slacking and need to do a better job. I’m not sure how they think attacking the worthiness and character of all teachers will help the situation.

Why would anyone qualified want to become a teacher, or continue being one, if they know they will never be good enough?

Those who complain about our teachers are pushing experienced educators away — even as they call for an increase in experienced teachers. I’m sure there are unqualified people at every job in America, even teachers, but attacking the group as a whole is damaging our relationship with irreplaceable educators.

Whether you support union rights or not, please do not degrade these people by insulting their job. They are the ones who taught you everything you know today, and they asked for nothing in return. They showed up every day to school with a smile on their face and a passion for what they were doing, even when being asked to explain something for the sixth time in 10 minutes. You should thank them for what they do and appreciate how much they are affecting other students’ lives for the better. American teachers are some of the best people you will ever meet, and they deserve to be treated as such.

UI sophomore Margaret Murphy is the co-president of the University Democrats.


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