[ProgressiveEd] Fwd: Heroic teachers in the midst of systemic mis-education

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I thought you might find this interesting. Carol
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From: "David Pugh" <[email protected]>
To: "Rethinking Schools" <[email protected]>
Subject: Heroic teachers in the midst of systemic mis-education
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 20:10:56 -0400
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Where are the heroes of today?" a radio talk show host thundered.
He blames society's shortcomings on public education. Too many people
are looking for heroes in all the wrong places. Movie stars and rock
musicians, athletes and models aren't heroes, they're celebrities.
Heroes abound in public schools, a fact that doesn't make the news.
There is no precedent for the level of violence, drugs, broken homes,
child abuse, and crime in today's America. Public education didn't
create these problems but deals with them every day.
You want heroes?
Consider Dave Sanders, the school teacher shot to death while trying to
shield his students from two Neo-Nazi youth on a bombing and shooting
rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Sanders gave
his life, along with 12 students, but other less heralded heroes
survived the Colorado blood bath.
You want heroes?
Jane Smith, a Fayetteville, NC, teacher, was moved by the plight of one
of her students, a boy dying for want of a kidney transplant. So this
pretty white woman told the family of this handsome 14-year old black
boy that she would give him one of her kidneys. And she did. When they
subsequently appeared together hugging on the Today Show, even tough
little Katie Couric was near tears.
You want heroes?
Doris Dillon dreamed all her life of being a teacher. She not only
made it, she was one of those wondrous teachers who could bring the best
out of every single child. One of her fellow teachers in San Jose, Calif.,
said "she could teach a rock to read."
Suddenly she was stricken with Lou Gehrig's Disease, which is always
fatal, usually within five years. She asked to stay on the job--and did.
When her voice was affected she communicated by computer. Did she go
home? She is running two elementary school libraries. When the> disease
was diagnosed, she wrote the staff and all the families that she had one
last lesson to teach - that dying is part of living. Her colleagues
named her Teacher of the Year.
You want heroes?
Bob House, a teacher in Gay, Georgia, tried out for Who Wants to be a
Millionaire. After he won the million dollars, a network film crew wanted
to follow up to see how it had impacted his life.  New cars? Big new house?
Instead, they found both Bob House and his wife still teaching. They
explained that it was what they had always wanted to do with their lives
and that would not change. The community was both stunned and gratified.
You want heroes?
Last year the average public school teacher spent $468 of her own money
for student necessities--work books, pencils--supplies kids had to have
but could not afford. That's a lot of money from the pockets of the most
poorly paid teachers in the industrialized world.
Public schools don't teach values?
The critics are dead wrong. Public education provides more Sunday school
teachers than any other profession. The average teacher works more hours
in nine months than the average 40-hour employee does in a year.
You want heroes?
For millions of kids, the hug they get from a teacher is the only hug
they will get that day because the nation is living through the worst
parenting in history. Many have never been taken to church or synagogue
in their lives.
A Michigan principal moved me to tears with the story of her attempt
to rescue a badly abused little boy who doted on a stuffed animal on her
desk--one that said "I love you!" He said he'd never been told that
at home. This is a constant in today's society--two million unwanted,
unloved, abused children in the public schools, the only institution
that takes them all in.
You want heroes?
Visit any special education class and watch the miracle of personal
interaction, a job so difficult that fellow teachers are awed
by the dedication they witness.
There is a sentence from an unnamed source which says, "We have been
so anxious to give our children what we didn't have that we have
neglected to give them what we did have."
What is it that our kids really need?
What do they really want?
Math, science, history and social studies are important, but children
need love, confidence, encouragement, someone to talk to, someone to
listen, standards to live by.
Teachers provide upright examples, the faith and assurance of responsible
people. Kids need to be accountable to caring parents who send
well-disciplined children to school. These human values are essentialin a
democracy. Now, pass this on to someone you know who's a teacher, or to
someone who should thank a teacher today!