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Virginia Journal of Education


On Point

Time to Take a Stand

by Samuel Eure Jr.

Educators, it’s time to wake up and act in ways that promote our causes. We have a responsibility to ensure that others understand what truly motivates us—our students. In sports, it’s sometimes said that “the best defense is a good offense.” It’s time for a little offense.

We cannot presume that people, parents, politicians and the students we serve all understand the importance and impact of a good education. Even though many people have children or have had children attend public schools, it’s quite possible that they just don’t get it. We must do all we can to help them. Schools continue to influence our communities whether we have children in them or not. Schools are an integral part of every community and now the community must become an integral part of the school. Teachers do not teach for the money, the benefits, or the unrivaled acclaim and respect of the profession. Teachers teach to make a difference in our communities and the lives of children. Teaching is something that unlocks potential, cultivates minds, aids in the development of a child’s personality, and helps young people grow into the people they will become. We do this while also educating them in a myriad of academic and social subjects.

As we are busy doing all these things, we connect with our students to ensure that they understand how much we care. Our drive is to make all students as successful as they can be. Our dedication to what we do demonstrates our profession’s steadfast purpose to make our communities better places.

And we’ve got a lot on our plates. In Virginia, we have Standards of Learning tests, SATs and other standardized tests, and we must follow Individual Education Plans.  We comply with 504 plans, along with student assistance plans and behavior modification plans. These are areas that are not negotiable. We must comply, by law.  Who else meets these types of requirements? No one!

What else do we do? In high school, we teach driver’s education and meet or influence any other need passed down to us. There are also the co-curricular and extracurricular activities teachers sponsor, or the athletic teams we coach. The true value of every teacher is truly immeasurable.

Other professions have some control over the quality of the product with which they work. They’re very selective on what the quality of their starting product will be. This is not the case with teachers; we cannot and should not turn away any child. We cannot choose whom we teach. We work with what we get and make the most of it. Who else can say that? We make a difference in the lives of every student that passes through our doors.

Considering the responsibilities we have been given and the accountability we accept, we have consistently exceeded national norms. We must continue to stand up for the children we teach, request the funding our schools need, and receive the respect we deserve. We must talk to parents and help them understand what our needs are. We must step up and address every elected public official. They must not only know our needs, they must understand our communities. To do so, they must know our students and they must visit our schools and talk “with,” not “to,” our teachers. We cannot allow politicians to shortchange our students. Educating students is the number one priority of every level of our government. A quality education is essential for the economic survival of every state and community. How do we reinvigorate our nation and improve our position in the world without first ensuring we do all we can to prepare our students?

Even during the current economic crisis, we as teachers must ensure that the schools we work in, the students we inspire and the communities we serve do not get unfairly targeted .This is not the time to allow the politicians to use the “biggest pig at the trough” analogy to justify funding reductions. Even in these lean times, we must continue to support the research-based programs we know will improve student achievement, such as the Pre-K initiative. Virginia must strive to remain one of the best states in the U.S. in which to operate a business and raise a child. For that to happen, maintaining and improving the quality of our educational programs must be a priority.

This is not a time for our voices to be muted, or to allow anyone to diminish the professionalism we consistently demonstrate. It is a time to demonstrate the power we as teachers have. We cannot be ashamed or hesitant to teach and reach our students. Teachers, it’s time to stand for what our students mean to us and what impact we truly have on our localities, our states and our nation.

Are you willing to take a stand?

Eure, a member of the York Education Association, teaches at York High School.

 


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