Tuesday, January 09, 2007


The following was e-mailed to me by a teacher:

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental... You want to know what I make?" (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

"I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them criticize. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math. I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make my students stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, because we live in the United States of America. Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life."

(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

"Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant... You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make?"

SNAVE'S NOTE: Bravo to whoever came up with that one.

I have it easy as a school speech therapist because I see my students individually or in small groups. I don't know how those who choose classroom teaching can deal with all the stresses day after day after day; kids can be cranky, and so can parents, and believe me, that can make things stressful. Public school teachers have also had the amount of trust and respect historically placed in them diminished, and I actually believe this has not been because of declining quality of education but rather because of a purposeful campaign by squeaky wheels who would like to privatize all the schools. No Child Left Behind seems fine in principle, but upon closer examination you may realize it for what I believe it is: a cleverly-designed method for defunding public education!

I say, those who can build and fix, will build and fix. Those who can't build and fix, tear things down (and often have no plan for rebuilding them!) Beware of conservative rhetoric, especially when it comes to education.

I find there are many rewards in working with kids, and this often helps make up for what some of us might not make in salary... I happen to think classroom teachers are grossly underpaid given what they do in our society. I'm sure glad there are teachers' unions, or teachers might make less than they do now.

I suppose that if the neocons' goal is for no other nation on earth to ever challenge the U.S. again militarily, then the military budget can do nothing but grow at the expense of all other needs. But I don't know why that should be the goal of our country. Wasn't that one of the factors in the collapse of the Soviet Union?

How about taking a few percent of the dollars away from our nation's military budget and putting it into education? I think it would make a positive difference. And that is what most teachers want to do, make a positive difference.


Blogger Lew Scannon said...

It's unfortunate that in our corpocracy people are measured and valued by their bank accounts, and not how they contribute to making society better as a whole. And I always find that it's the parents of kids who aren't doing well in school who always blame the teachers, when most of these parents don't make any attempt to spend time with their children. Teachers are exp[ected to be miracle workers whose powers extend to the time the child is at home.
Americans used to value our public education system, now they want to tear it apart to fit their own agenda.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked that piece. Ironically, most of the people who've gotten rich in this country were taught by teachers who were glad to forgo a big salary in order to spend their lives helping others.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Elvez73 said...

That's a great piece, I am forwarding that to all of my teacher friends, that infamous quote has always pissed me off. The folks I know who teach public school are some of the smartest and most dedicated people I know, especially my buddy Marty who teaches at the worst inner-city school here in Richmond. Great post Snave.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

That's excellent. That's exactly what these pompous ego-driven CEOs need to hear.

Who Hijacked Our Country

7:00 PM  
Blogger 1138 said...

I don't know how the handle class sizes like they do - 30 to 50 students in one room for nearly an entire day?
And here the pay starts at a paltry 12k.

There should NEVER be more that 14 children in a class room, and I mean NEVER - that is if you want quality education and actual LEARNING.

I made certain at the end of each year of school I thanked the good ones personally.
The bad ones got a personal message too, it was "go back to school".

8:03 PM  

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