Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

May 24, 2013

Give the teachers what they deserve

TAHLEQUAH — When is the demonization of the teachers of this state going to stop? How many sacrifices do teachers have to make before the public realizes the anti-educator campaign is completely baseless, initiated by a small group of malcontents looking for someone to blame for society’s ills or the failures of their own offspring?

The effort over the past several years to decimate public education has done nothing to help Oklahoma. It has not attracted new industry, and it has not led to better pay for its workforce. On the contrary, the attitude toward public education – most clearly manifest in some of our state’s elected officials – has made several companies shy away from relocating here.

Whether we want to admit it or not, how a state or a community views its school system is a major factor in attracting industry and the kind of people we’d all like to have as neighbors. When teachers must dig into their own pockets to pay for school supplies, and when the results of mandated tests are more important than actual “learning,” we’ve lost a key selling point.

It sounds trite to say it, but as the bumper sticker reads, “Teachers care.” Otherwise, they wouldn’t accept comparatively low pay for one of the most important – and these days, most stressful – jobs around. By now, every observant individual has rejected the myth that teachers get summers off, and enjoy short workdays. Sure, a few might fit that bill; as we’ve said before, there are bad teachers, just as surely as there are bad electricians, bad CEOs, bad restaurant servers and bad newspaper editors. But by far, most teachers went into the profession because they wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives.

Anyone who’s been keeping up with current events over the past several months has witnessed how teachers literally put their lives on the line for their students. That was the case during the deplorable mass shooting at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults died. Most of the adults died defending children from the attack.

And just this past Monday, we saw the nightmare unfold in Moore as a tornado took out two elementary schools. Tahlequah High School science teacher Vickie Elliott described to the Press how her young niece’s life was saved by a teacher at Plaza Tower School who threw her own body on top of Elliott’s niece and two other kids. Other stories are circulating of teachers who protected their charges as the roof came off and walls disintegrated.

Here’s the critical point, one that must give us all pause: Most of these teachers in Newtown and Moore had children of their own, whose lives were also in jeopardy. While many of us would have abandoned our students to rush to retrieve our own kids, these teachers stayed – not knowing what was happening to their own little ones, or even knowing if they themselves would survive.

These teachers committed themselves to the noblest of professions, but many in our state Legislature have seen fit to slap them in the face repeatedly with budget cuts, layoffs, and stagnant compensation.

State Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, pointed out the irony in some last-minute tussling to get pay raises for Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers. While we acknowledge that troopers do deserve more money, we view House Speaker T.W. Shannon’s rationale as a huge gaffe. According to Brown, Shannon cited the “quick response” by the OHP during the aftermath of Monday’s storm as highlighting the need for a pay increase. And then, there’s the issue of some officials taking credit they don’t really deserve.

Brown told the Press: “We’re still not willing to help the teachers who evidently are willing to sacrifice their lives to save our children. I was sickened by the House Republicans’ press release yesterday, saying they were solely responsible. If you have to grab that much glory, God have mercy on you.”

Sen. Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee, agreed: “Whether we fund OHP trooper raises or not, there are other folks out there – like the teachers, the true heroes, who go above and beyond to protect those kids.”

It’s long past time for Oklahomans to drop the scales from their eyes and get behind those “true heroes,” who, in most cases, spend more time nurturing our children than we do ourselves. Let’s give teachers the support they deserve.

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Editorials
  • Ban on wage hikes by municipalities a mark of hypocrisy

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    April 18, 2014

  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

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  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

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    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

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  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

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  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

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  • It’s time to turn in your candidate announcements

    If you are running for a political office for which Cherokee County voters can cast ballots, it’s time to turn in your announcement. We’ve already run a few, and expect several more. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 24, with the registration period to vote in this election closing Thursday, May 30.

    March 24, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
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