This Friday will mark 27 years married to a teacher. Sure, she ended her career as an administrator, a teacher on steroids if you will, but nonetheless a teacher. To suggest that teachers in general and Sharon in specific should be given the recognition they deserve is akin to suggesting that Eisenhower should be recognized as a diplomat in a wolf’s clothing. The education of our children is the greatest insurance policy on the future of America that we invest in. Before it crosses your mind, let me say it first, 27 years as my counter weight to life qualifies this lady for every award out there related to resilience, patience and understanding. I should be so lucky!
Parents know best. This prevailing philosophy is one of the great sources of angst for the teaching profession. Government knows best is a close second. Never mind these educated professionals quickly develop a keen sense of just how hard to push, or not, the children in their charge. No child left behind and other such policies assuming an even playing field for education are deeply flawed attempts to suggest that every student is a carbon copy of the next. They are not. Our constantly maligned system of public education is not predicated on a one size fits all philosophy. Forgive me parents, but unless you are familiar with the classroom environment, you do not understand the dynamics of education. Leave it to the professionals to squeeze the potential out of your child, which means someone will finish first and someone will finish last, but all will be given an opportunity to maximize their God given ability. We are doing a great disservice to our children by giving every child an award for excellence to spare the feelings of those who are not capable of great academic success. Teachers are preparing their charges for higher education and life, and not everyone is destined to lead GE or master the intracies of open heart surgery.
Teachers are preparing for another school year as I write this. They are, under the eyes of their administrators, determining what classroom decoration is appropriate, busy enough but not too busy. They are evaluating their incoming students to assess their needs and comprehension levels in preparation for the real evaluation that occurs in the classroom. They know that as sure as certain children will challenge them, the real test is in the relationships that are going to develop with the parents. For 27 short years I watched this ritual played out as summer faded to the beauty of fall and the education season unfolded. The pressure to meet the expectations of well meaning but misguided parents was tremendous and I marveled at the ability of the classroom teacher to handle this critical aspect.
I smile broadly every time I hear Sharon describe her experience as “27 tours” in the field of education, reflecting the same pride that a combat veteran feels when he describes the number of tours he spent in the hell of war. My fervent hope for all who are re-entering the classroom is this year will be the year the difficulty inherent to the education of our children will be recognized and that parents will work with their child educator and not against the system they simply cannot comprehend without having been there. Thank you Sharon and good luck to those who are busy getting ready for the new academic year. I am fortunate to not only be married to a great lady, but also a teacher……..27 short years!