National Teacher Appreciation Week
This is National Teacher Appreciation Week. I am not a teacher, but I am married to one. Dave taught high school math in NJ for 31 years and it took approximately 20 years for him to make a decent salary. Dave never taught for the money and all through his career had to supplement his income with coaching and summer jobs. For 31 years, he contributed to his pension and we now live on that pension.
As we were thinking about retirement, we were already noticing a shift in the treatment of teachers and the declining respect and support for the profession from the federal government on down.
When he retired in 2012, we moved to Danville. In short order, he was hired as an adjunct math professor at BCTC-Danville. Dave is a born teacher and is still enthusiastic to share his love of teaching math with his students.
Most teachers enter the profession with a pure desire to serve children as their instructors on whatever subject they specialize in, but also on how to be a successful student and human being. Teachers are entrusted with what should be most precious in our lives, our children. Oftentimes, as economic pressures require both parents to work, teachers spend more time with our children than parents.
The recent legislative session brought into sharp focus this decline in the respect for teachers, past and present. It also brought into sharp focus the lack of support for public education on the part of many in our state government. This is unacceptable. The public school model guarantees every student the opportunity of a quality education and is one of the most democratic ideals of our democracy.
This session also brought into sharp focus the power of teachers when they stand up for themselves and our public schools. The pension and budget bills adopted by this session, although far from perfect, were very different from the ones initially offered and that is because our teachers stood up and made their voices heard.
So, this National Teacher Appreciation Week, we the taxpayers need to commit to standing with our public school teachers. They deserve our respect, they deserve to be paid a decent salary, they deserve to have the security of a pension and health care when they retire, and they deserve our thanks for caring for what is most precious to us, our children.