The other party gave us public schools that far too often fail our students, especially those who have no options. Growing up, my siblings and I we were truly fortunate to have choices and options that others don't have. We want all Americans to have those same opportunities.
Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class, now they're stalled on the ground floor. They're like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and the administrators and not the students. You know why other countries do better on K through 12? They let parents choose where to send their own children to school. That's called competition. It's called the free market. And it's what the other party fears.
They fear it because they're more concerned about protecting the jobs of tenured teachers than serving the students in desperate need of a good education.
They want to run everything top-down from Washington. They tell us they're the experts and they know what's best.
I spent 12 years in a public school system and my daughter will enter her 10th year at JCPS this year. In those 22 combined years, I never encountered a teacher who was less than dedicated, and my daughter is receiving a top notch education, just like I did.
Donald Trump Jr. and people like him claim public teachers have nobody's interests but their own at heart. The reality is that the experience, ideas, concerns, and advice of our teachers are increasingly being ignored, silenced, or shouted down by groups of wealthy people who, like Donald Trump Jr., have no real stake in the public schools. It's easy to claim public schools are broken and say we need to "ruffle feathers" and make drastic changes when you know you or your kids will never have to deal with the end result. If it works, great. If it doesn't.... well, it doesn't impact you anyway and you can always find someone to blame within the system.
The Trumps would never dare go to a doctor whose work experience was building casinos. And it's doubtful they'd put their investments with someone who just recently left his job writing plagiarized speeches. So why should we value their opinions on education over those of the teachers who have years of education and classroom experience under their belts?
In the course of a day, our public school teachers are not just educators. They are counselors, psychiatrists, social workers, negotiators, translators, surrogate parents, mentors, and friends. They spend hours at home and often their own wages on behalf of their students. The students they serve come from all walks of life, all areas of society, and all types of home situations. Our public school teachers enter classrooms where one child comes in prepared, fed, and loved by their parents, and another child is hungry, abused, and living in a broken home. They don't get to choose the child, but they do choose to be there for them and do their level best to try to reach and educate all of these kids, no matter what the circumstance.
Our teachers wages are not excessive (and indeed are often inadequate) given the impact they have on our children, society, and our future, or the time they put into their job. They are professionals, and should be treated, paid, and respected as such. In a year where politicians and community leaders are falling all over themselves to support police, we need to realize that our public school teachers serve the very same communities our police do, facing the same variety of troubling circumstances our police do, and they are just as important in keeping the peace, and working to make our streets and communities safer and improve the lives of the people there.
It's time that we as parents and students in public schools stand up for the teachers that serve our children. We are the customers of public schools, not the men and women in our communities who long ago deemed the schools beneath them. We need to make it clear to our politicians, business leaders, and our school boards and administration that the teachers and staff of our public schools are valued and loved, and need to be treated accordingly.