To the editor:
Every social issue finds its way to the schoolhouse door, from poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy, to addiction and crime, to broken families, to desperate parents working day and night in a sagging economy, to absence of English language proficiency, to the marketplace that callously divides youngsters and adults alike into discrete consumer groups for mercenary gain.
America's hope is that our public schools will level the playing field. That means we expect teachers to resolve their students' multiple challenges by raising their academic proficiency to fit every standard.
Of course, such expectations of teachers are unfair, unrealistic and unproductive. Placed between a rock and hard place, teachers are excoriated when test scores are low, treated with disdain for purportedly “working less” than others, and held to unreasonable standards by a society frantic to achieve competitive edge against other developed nations.
America has long had a love-hate relationship with its teachers.
In 19th century agricultural America, with its one-room schoolhouses and lone teachers instructing K-8, meager teacher salaries were common, but parental expectations for academic achievement were as high as they are now in the digital age.
Now that teachers have, for the most part, attained a living wage, they are accused of being veritable freeloaders. Now that they have brick-and-mortar schools instead of log cabins in which to school their young charges, they are attacked for sloth and intellectual vacuity.
Consider that the average ending salary for teachers, after 25 years in the profession, is $67,000. By contrast the average income for a top hedge fund manager in 2009 was $1 billion.
How many teachers would that salary pay for? Can you do the math? If you can, thank a teacher.
We in the Lemon Grove Historical Society work with our local schools throughout the academic year, and we understand and applaud the skill, inspiration and joy involved in their classroom labors.
Please join us in encouraging, not degrading, our teachers.
Helen M. Ofield