YARBROUGH: What school teachers make is more than money

My recent observations on the lack of respect given public school teachers in Georgia engendered a lot of responses but none better than this story sent to me by my friend, David Egan, co-director of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island and a former educator himself.

I commend it to those members of the General Assembly who seem to spend more time and effort these days trying to starve public schools to death financially and promoting private school scholarship schemes with no public accountability and with all sorts of opportunity for abuse, rather than giving public school teachers the tools and support they need to succeed.

It should provide also some perspective to all those who aren't in the public school arena and who have no idea what school teachers go through -- who think teachers can close the door on all of society's problems and blithely manage the bureaucratic and uncoordinated red tape at all levels of government from Washington to the local school board. Meanwhile, the rest of us are free to stand on the sidelines and second-guess them even though we couldn't do what they do under the same circumstances.

It is also a reminder to the four public school teachers in my family of the potential they have to change young lives for the better and forever -- something most of us have neither the ability nor the interest in doing.

Here goes: A group of dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?" He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

"I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.

"I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for five without an iPod, GameCube or movie rental.

"You want to know what I make? (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

"I make kids wonder.

"I make them question.

"I make them apologize and mean it.

"I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.

"I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn't everything.

"I make them read, read, read.

"I make them show all their work in math. They use their God-given brain, not the manmade calculator.

"I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.

"I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

"I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, one nation under God, because we live in the United States of America.

"Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.

"Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant. You want to know what I make?

"I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make, Mr. CEO?"

Not much I can add to that except to say that members of the General Assembly should put down the ideological anti-public school Kool-Aid they are slurping and paste her remarks on their foreheads with Super Glue. To them and to rest of us: Walk a mile or two in a school teacher's shoes and see what they have to deal with before you start throwing stones at them.

Finally, to public school teachers: The story David Egan shared may be the stuff of legends but the facts are not. What you make is a difference -- a big difference. Never forget that.

Email columnist Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/dickyarbrough.


NewsReader 2 years, 5 months ago

Dick, let's get something straight...

I won’t go into what capacity I have been involved in the Public School System, but will only state that it has been extensive. I would put my record of involvement up against anybody’s any day of the week.

While there are some people who have no respect for teachers, there are significant numbers that do. In fact, most intelligent people realize and know that the teachers are limited by what their absurd administrations will allow. There are bad teachers that deserve little or no respect, and several of them come to mind in Gwinnett County Public Schools. Every year, I’ve had at least one problem child of a teacher to deal with that simply didn’t want to do the right thing. What irritates me the most is that is simply wasn’t necessary. Again, most are pretty decent, but like a basket of apples, the one rotten to the core will spoil the entire basket.

I don’t believe the legislators are “…trying to starve schools to death…” as you put it. But the fact of the matter is, all children aren’t receiving equal representation when it comes to education. The people who pay to send their children to Private School do so for many reasons, the least of which is because of poor teachers in Public School. They pay property taxes just like the rest of us, and in my view, are “entitled” (a term you liberals should be very familiar with) to an amount equal to that provided for the Public School to educate that child. The accountability of the Private School is a given by virtue of their performance. It speaks for itself, so spare me the lecture on abuse. These parents invest financially, spiritually, emotionally, and personally in their child’s education which is a whole lot more than I can say for half the student body in any given public school.

My argument is quite simple. The money follows the child – period. It makes absolutely no difference where they attend school, the money follows the child. It is then and only then that proper focus and attention can be directed where it needs to go. Your “ideological”…”Kool-Aid” condescending personal agenda crap is getting old and tiresome. It is a fact that in spite of spending more $$$ per student, it doesn’t’ get it done, for if it did, we would rank first in the industrialized world in education instead of bouncing somewhere around the top twenty.

I know what teachers have to deal with and it’s ridiculous. When you and others get serious about fixing educational problems, there are many things that can be done. So when you are willing to genuinely listen to solutions instead of bickering about where the money is going, and it’s not your money – it’s the childrens’ money, perhaps we can make some real progress in education in Georgia. And for the record, when you’re at the bottom statistically, there really is nowhere else to go but up. Oh, and BTW, I don’t throw stones at teachers.


dav 2 years, 5 months ago

Very good ,your comment should be the main article


NewsReader 2 years, 5 months ago

Well Dick, either you, or GDP, or both elected to remove this article from the front page of the GDP website rather quickly didn't you? What's the matter? Hit a little too close to home. I really love this where you don't like what your reader has to say and utilize the power of your authority as a journalist to censor that which you either disagree with or don't want to hear. If you can't stand the heat, then stay out of the kitchen!


Mack711 2 years, 5 months ago

Well said again. Am suprised that they have not suspended comments on this article as has been done in the past by this publication. Thanks for your comments.


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