My Dear Colleagues,
Today is California’s Day of the Teacher, a celebration of everything that you do and everything that you mean to the thousands of lives that you have benefitted. It is a day designed to honor what you and public education mean to the community and to our world.
The Day of the Teacher is, for most of us, a day like any other: full of children and young adults, their needs and fears and dreams. It is a day greeted with optimism and hope and, if we are lucky, a day that ends that way as well.
In these absurdly cruel times of budget cuts to the quick, and public officials placing the blame for every failure of the system squarely at the feet of those who dedicate their lives to educating all of our children, I would like to offer you this reminder.
Those who slash our budgets are wrong. Those who ignore research and say that your magic can be measured by test scores are wrong. Those who say that teachers’ pensions are an extravagance are wrong. Those who say that public education is the only thing we need to put this country back on the right track are wrong.
I am not worried about us, however. You see, we’ve always been good at helping people see where they are wrong. Kindergarten or 5th grade; 8th grade social studies or 12th grade English; on the sports fields or in the arts rooms; at recess or after school, we specialize in correcting.
We do it with style, too. We correct with reason and compassion. We spend hours after school resolving to try the message again differently next time. We correct with humor and warmth, but with “the teacher look” when necessary. We brook no nonsense, and the only foolishness we tolerate is that wonderful foolishness in pursuit of learning and the love of it. We will correct those who know nothing about our work and attempt to bend it to their agendas anyway.
That’s what we do because there is no other way than this. There are no others who can do it better.
We are teachers, and the world is our classroom.
I am grateful, on this Day of the Teacher, to call you my colleagues and my friends, and I look forward to our next lessons together.