Priorities

One of my Facebook friends was griping about her children’s school.

She wrote, “I was planning to send the kids to school tomorrow for the last day of the term but now I won’t get them there until noon. I figured they weren’t likely doing anything tomorrow except seeing friends and picking up homework, and going to the holiday party… So it’s still okay, right?”

Note: This was after she’s had her 3 kids pulled out of school for the past 84 days for traveling — “10500+ miles, 20 states, 4 birthdays, and 25+ national parks/monuments.”

So then came the litany of comments from others about how the teachers probably wouldn’t give the children credit for the attendance and how unfair that was.

Finally, it was this comment that put me over the edge: “Is it your son who doesn’t get ‘credit’, or is it the school that doesn’t get ‘credit’ ( ie not getting paid by the state for his daily attendance)?”

Um, WHA-?

How soon did we forget about teachers being national heroes, shielding defenseless children from a crazed gunman, and making the greatest sacrifice for those in their care? Is our memory of Sandy Hook Elementary so short that we throw it out the window the moment our schools don’t jump to our beck and call to meet our needs, no matter how unrealistic we are as parents?

What happened to our responsibility as parents? Our main job for school-aged children is to get them to school on time, ready to learn. I am all for family vacations, like the one my Facebook friend took, but didn’t this use to happen during the summertime?

As a society, we have demanded and then legislated that a teacher must be all things to all children: the one who teaches them to read, to add, subtract, and multiply, to think things through with problem-solving attack skills, to apply scientific principles, and to know where the capital of Russia is on a map.

A teacher must also be the one to identify children who are sad and depressed, those who aren’t eating or may be allergic to nuts, gluten, or are lactose intolerant, or even children who are neglected or abused at home. Teachers must be drug counselors, guidance counselors, mother figures, father figures, entertainers of the year. They must smile and use kind words at all times, discipline with love, and teach the moral and ethical responsibility the rest of society may or may not demonstrate today.

Teachers must be wizards, too, for they are charged with getting ALL children to learn and succeed in the classroom, even those who have no interest in being in school, those who may have limited abilities, or those who are hungry, bullied, defiant, angry, or violent.

And now, as many recent events have shown, teachers must also be first responders, body guards, and soldiers who are prepared to tackle men armed to the teeth with automatic rifles.

My mother has taught second grade for over 35 years and she loves her job tremendously. She is one of those who was fortunate to never have to work but has always chosen to because it is the one thing she truly cherishes… and countless parents and grandparents can testify how she is one of those teachers who has touched thousands of children’s lives.

Inspired by her, I too have been a teacher for the past 17 years. I also strive to be one who makes a difference. I love the families of my students; so, when I read the gripes of my Facebook friends about their kids’ teachers, it is difficult for me not to comment.

These parents who write their snarky words and condescending comments about their kids’ schools need to remember this: Regardless of your misplaced disdain, your children’s teachers will still protect and love your child, even those whose parents complain too loudly about how unfair we are, how unreasonable we are. We will educate and keep your child safe, even those children whose parents think we grade too hard, that we favor one child over another, that we teach just for the paycheck.

Why? Because we believe teaching your child is the most important job in the world and we are proud to do it. So, the next time you want to complain publicly about how your child’s school isn’t giving your kid credit for a full day’s attendance when he only shows up for an hour or two, think twice.

Maybe it is time to take a long look at your own priorities!