We often hear about U.S. teachers being paid poorly for all the work they do to educate children. But did you know that 63 percent of teachers report buying food for the classroom each month with their own money?
I know at my mom’s school, teachers worked with parents to make sure children had food, clothes, school supplies, medical care. Kids who didn’t have running water in their homes (no, I’m not kidding) were given access to the showers in the gym and teachers would do their laundry. Teachers drove families who didn’t have cars to their doctor and dentist appointments, allowed kids in extracurriculars who needed to be at school early to go to band contests or football and baseball games to stay at their house overnight so they could drive the kids in early the next day. At Christmas, teachers pooled resources to help parents get together Christmas presents and dinners, so kids could have Christmas meals. My mom, an elementary school principal, drove her former students in high school to distant colleges so they could see campuses they couldn’t visit otherwise and helped them with college and financial aid applications. My parents gave families, free of charge, a car, a washer and dryer, musical instruments my brother and I no longer used, and they weren’t the only teachers or other parents in the community who did the same for kids and families in need.
I know there are bad teachers, but my experience being raised by an educator and being surrounded by teachers was that teachers love their students and want what is best for their students. They will do whatever they can for kids and their families if they think it will help the kids succeed. The teachers in my life were overwhelmingly examples of dogged, selfless dedication. I know so many teachers now who have worked well past when they could retire because they still love teaching, because they love the kids, because they want to make the world a better place.
Teachers are amazing people, and instead of discrediting them, blaming them for all the problems with our education system, and replacing them with less expensive and less qualified people who will be in and out of the profession in a couple of years, we should be doing our best to seek out and support the people who have this kind of passion and commitment to the hard work of educating children.
What this should also tell us is just how many kids are going hungry right now, and how vitally important it is that we continue to invest in children. SNAP benefits, Medicaid, subsidized housing…all of these things are vitally important to school success. A child can’t do well in school if they are hungry, sick, and homeless or worried about becoming homeless, and you’d be hard pressed to find teachers who have never encountered students who have dealt with one or all of these challenges, except maybe in the wealthiest school districts. Taking care of kids should be one of our biggest priorities, and sadly, it’s turned into some sort of political game to see who can be the most committed to poverty shaming and anti-government, no matter who is hurt in the process. It’s sickening.
Education is important. Children are everything. We need to invest more into both. Now I’ll get off my soap box.
My partner teaches special education, and this is overwhelmingly true. He buys those big bags of apples or bananas to take to school. He hands out granola bars. He makes popcorn in an air popper. He has bought students bus passes. He has taken a kid to an anime and comic convention that was out of town because the kid was so excited about it and wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise. He works 12 hours nearly every day.
Respect teachers and the work they do. They have big, generous hearts.(via thingspeopleasklibrarians)