Last week, President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., stood on a stage in El Paso, Texas, and maligned one of the greatest professions in America.
In the frenzied atmosphere of the Trump rally, he called on fellow conservatives wearing their MAGA hats “to keep up that fight, bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth.”
We’re here to tell you that Junior couldn’t last five minutes in the shoes of a so-called “loser” teacher. He’d pass out from exhaustion as soon as that opening bell rings and that teacher turns into an air traffic controller, making split-second decisions. It can be dizzying to watch. Try it some time.
We’ve met a lot of Martha’s Vineyard teachers, and there’s not a loser among them. They are hard-working, dedicated individuals who increasingly come under the microscope of standardized test scores, as if those tests somehow define the care, compassion, and education that a teacher provides in the classroom.
And the very idea that teachers are sitting in classrooms figuring out how to turn the next generation into socialists is laughable. They look to cultivate independent thinkers.
Besides, where would they find the time to indoctrinate? What they’re trying to do is corral a class filled with individuals who come from varying backgrounds.
Suzy may not have had a meal at home last night, and may not have gotten any sleep because her mom and dad are in the middle of an ugly divorce.
Billy’s doing great. He’s so excited that he made his travel basketball team that he can hardly focus on what’s happening in class. That, and he forgot to take the medication that controls his ADHD.
Oh, and last year there was an off-Island school district that faced some budget shortfalls, so now the teacher doesn’t have a classroom aide, and she’s got three more students than the year before. But luckily for her, there are volunteers who are willing to come into the classroom — some of them retired teachers who know the challenges — to help out on a regular basis.
Let’s not forget the money they have to spend out of pocket because local school committees, strapped for cash, cut the supply budget first. Teachers often pick up the slack.
Teachers are in one of those thankless jobs. Everyone’s been to school, so nearly everyone thinks they know how to best educate and reach children — even though we now require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and to show continuing education in order to renew their licenses. It’s the kind of education that puts them on par with doctors and lawyers — except when you look at their paychecks.
We underpay them.
We underappreciate them.
We underestimate the great impact they have.
And, too often, people like Donald Jr. belittle them.
Oh, and the fantasy that teachers get the summer off? Many of them use that time to get the professional development time needed to renew their licenses, or to keep up with new trends in teaching, or learning the new technology that’s become so vital in the classroom. Others have to spend their summers waiting tables at local restaurants so they can afford to live on this Island.
Loser teachers, indeed.
They’re winners, doing the jobs other Americans don’t want to do. One of the oft-repeated stereotypes is of parents who can’t wait for their children to go back to school. Why? Because children are a lot to handle. It’s not easy, but it’s a vocation, and for those who have heard the calling, it is rewarding.
You are the true heroes. We should pay you more. We should respect you more.
Next week, teachers on Martha’s Vineyard will be off for a week, just like the students in their classrooms. We hope you get some rest, but we doubt you will. There are lesson plans to write, courses to take, and supplies to buy to get through the final 80 days or so.
So hold your heads high, teachers, and don’t listen to the little brat raised by a schoolyard bully of a father.
Hey, you’re in good company. Donald Trump Jr. doesn’t like journalists either.