Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher

The folks at Beaufort County Schools were great yesterday. I had a chance to present the beginning-of-school keynote to about 1,000 teachers, principals, and support and administrative staff.

As I closed the program I asked for the group’s indulgence for a moment in order to explain an issue in which I deeply believe. I’m asking your indulgence now for the same reason.

We are fighting a war that is only rarely clearly explained in the media. The war on terrorism is only a small part of the bigger conflict. The war is for the survival of freedom…(this won’t get political, so don’t stop reading yet).

What most of us don’t understand is that America and its promise of individual freedom are not done deals. America is still an experiment. The concept of individual freedom is still relatively new and rare in the history of mankind.

In order for the experiment to succeed we need an educated populous. I didn’t say that, Thomas Jefferson said that. Teachers have never been more important to the experiment of America.

However, The American Institute of Stress released a report revealing that teachers often experience levels of stress that exceed those experienced by police officers, air traffic controllers, ministers, and medical interns.

Three things are the biggest sources of stress for teachers: External Issues (community, administration, students’ parents, media), Internal Issues (students and coworkers), and the teachers’ attitudes and behavioral habits (ex. health).

I’m for teachers having as many Perfect Workdays as possible because that means they are spending more time teaching than being babysitters or bouncers. So, whatever we can do to support teachers is a good thing. There are a number of community programs to which individuals and companies can contribute so teachers won’t have to buy classroom supplies that school systems and parents can’t afford.

And yes, if I was King for a Day I’d pay teachers the same as rock stars.

Until that day comes though, I’m for paying attention to a bumper sticker I see occasionally. It says, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”

I’m going to do that the moment I finish this blog.

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