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Re: Opinion on teachers | Letter

I admire Mr. Pignatiello’s same old story about teachers’ unions and public education. We have lived on the island for six years. My wife, a former public school teacher, volunteers at our elementary school 20 hours a week. I still listen to teacher talk.

According to Pignatiello teachers’ unions are destroying public education, and teachers are no longer professionals of the bygone years. Today they only take care of themselves and do not care what harm our children suffer. Teachers like full-time pay for half-time work, and resist returning to in-class instruction during the pandemic to protect their cushy jobs. Parents and Taxpayers should rise up in “outrage” against these union chains!

It is an old story — a Marxian diatribe turned upside down. It is as false as the day I first heard it. It is based on false premises, false connections of limited facts to impugn motive, character and professionalism of teachers. It is hurtful.

Teachers don’t just work when online or in school with students. Preparation time involves1.5 times as much time as classroom teaching. Virtual teaching takes even more time. My wife takes calls and emails from teachers during the lunch hours and late at night about student lessons.

Teachers are professionals. Modern teachers usually need a master’s degree. Teachers continue learning their entire careers. They do this for a top pay that is about 70% of comparably credentialed non-teaching positions. Teachers today are better educated and better trained to teach more substantive content than ever.

Teachers don’t spend time protecting a cushy job. Beyond all the education and preparation time, teachers constantly gather and often pay out of pocket for extra supplies, books and materials that schools and parent don’t provide. The goal is to meet the needs of their students. Visit a teacher’s home. Find the secret room where stacks of such materials live. Watch a teacher on vacation or shopping. You’ll see them finding things to help a student understand a difficult concept. It is what teachers do.

Listen to teachers talk with other teachers and with students. You won’t hear teachers putting parents and students down. Teachers work at finding better ways to guide a student’s learning. Their relationship with their students is firm and based on mutual respect and dignity.

We all know this. We see it and we say it in assemblies where we acknowledge what drives teachers. Teaching is about one four-letter word. It isn’t “hate.” It is “love.” The process may be a bit messy and imperfect. But love motivates teachers.

Michael Hansen

San Juan Island