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Editorial: Pray for teachers, and support them


Teachers are quitting. In droves.

Who can blame them? They’re paid less, after inflation, than they were a decade ago. They’re paid less, too, than many other professionals with less training and education.

State legislatures and politicians are writing curriculum, adding requirements, limiting what teachers can talk about and mandating extra professional development without pay.

Social media memes suggest teachers only work six months out of the year. Pundits claim teachers are glorified babysitters. Parents complain on social media about grades, assignments, promotions or the lack of them.  School board meetings have erupted into near riots. 

Students were shot and killed in their classrooms last year. Teachers were shot and killed. Some were killed trying to protect their students.

Would you stick around?

Some states are trying to figure out how to recruit more teachers by lowering standards and requirements. There’s a pilot shortage, too. But few people would suggest lowering standards for pilots.

Research shows declining confidence in public schools, yet an overwhelming majority are satisfied with the education their own children receive. Paradoxically, this mirrors research that shows Americans lack confidence in Congress, but the majority like their own representative.

The system is not perfect. Parents matter to children’s success in school. They have every right to work for reform and improvement. But don’t demean or devalue those most essential to the best of public education. 

A public school art teacher works one-on-one with a middle school student learning to paint.

A public school art teacher works one-on-one with a middle school student learning to paint.

Home school and private schools offer alternatives for some families in some places. But for a nation, for a community, quality public education is essential. And it can’t happen without teachers.   

Let’s be honest. I’m biased. My entire adult life was spent in higher education. Many of my friends at church and in my community are teachers. My son is a teacher and coach. My daughter is a college counselor. My son-in-law is a principal. I hear stories.

For a nation, for a community, quality public education is essential. And it can’t happen without teachers.   

Stories about kids who come to school hungry and who know which teachers keep breakfast bars in their desks. Stories about kids who have no idea they could go to college or get financial aid, until someone encourages them. Stories about refugee kids who arrive speaking no English and graduate at the top of their class.  

A foundation in my community gives first-year teachers $150 to help buy classroom supplies. My Facebook feed is filled with teachers posting links to their Amazon wish lists, hoping someone will buy markers and calculators and Kleenex. When did you last see a dentist or lawyer or accountant soliciting contributions to stock their office?

School may have started where you live or may start next week. You may think there’s little you can do to make a difference, but you can.

“Give honor to whom honor is due,” Romans 13:7 tells Christians.

Honor a teacher.

Teachers are heroes. Tell them so.

Teachers are first responders. Thank them.

Teachers are soldiers. They do battle every day with ignorance and poverty and racism and hunger and abuse, sometimes in their classrooms, and sometimes because they teach about it and enlighten those who think they’ve never seen it.

Teachers are soldiers. They do battle every day with ignorance and poverty and racism and hunger and abuse, sometimes in their classrooms, and sometimes because they teach about it and enlighten those who think they’ve never seen it.

Pray for them.

Support them — with encouraging words, with informed activism, with contributions to their Amazon wish list.

And if you’re a teacher reading this, God bless you for all you are and mean to your students.

Whether it’s in kindergarten or graduate school, you ask important questions and help your students find the answers. You hold them accountable. And sometimes, you will hold their hand.

Whether it’s on a brightly colored rug in the middle of your class or standing in front of too many rows of desks in a too-crowded classroom or a chemistry lab or a basketball court or in your office — whether it’s early before school or in the moments after class or late at night — you are making the biggest difference of all. 

When you’re tired, bone tired, remember that. You may be some student’s last and best hope.

Don’t quit. — Cheryl Mann Bacon, for the Editorial Board

Filed under: back to school Christian schools Editorial Education home schools Opinion Perspective private schools Teachers Top Stories

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