The past few years have seen educators across the country vilified, and the constant denigration of America’s teachers has had a dehumanizing effect. America’s public education system is simplistically portrayed as being rife with uninspired, lazy incompetents bereft of any intrinsic motivation.
Politicians in Washington and state houses across the country, as well as think tanks and lobbyists, deride teachers as a protected caste of selfish miscreants who care more about their pensions than about children.
Not a week goes by that a national, regional or local media outlet does not have a piece castigating the men and women serving in our classrooms across America. Maybe individuals become teachers not for the summers off, but for the chance to make a difference in the communities in which they live and work.
Maybe individuals who are teachers are not pigs at the trough, but dedicated public servants who thrive preparing students for the future that awaits them.
Maybe those who become teachers would charge at a madman armed with an assault rifle, with no regard for their own safety.
Maybe someone who becomes a teacher would hide as many children as she could before a psychopath entered her classroom with a weapon meant for the battlefield using her body to shield the children she could not hide.
The innate instinct of the educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School to protect the lives of the children in their care at all costs prevented the deaths of many more students in that school. When the shooting started, they could have abandoned their students and saved themselves.
Yet, according to reports, the adults in that school stood their ground, stashing kids wherever they could. Teachers comforted their children as hundreds of shots rang out in the school. The selfless actions of the teachers, administrators and staff in a small Connecticut school completely challenge the recent narrative of the “bereft, uninspired, selfish, educator.”
Gregory Wallace, Greenport
Editor’s note: Mr. Wallace is a Riverhead High School physics teacher.
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