2/12/2006

You Want Heroes?

"Where are the heroes of today?" a radio talk show
host thundered.He blames
society's shortcomings on public education. Too many
people are looking for
heroes in all the wrong places. Movie stars and rock
musicians, athletes and
models aren't heroes,they're celebrities.

Heroes abound in public schools, a fact that doesn't
make the news.
here is no precedent for the level of violence,
drugs, broken homes,
child abuse, and crime in today's America. Public
education didn't create
these problems but deals with them every day.

You want heroes?

Consider Dave Sanders, the school teacher shot to
death while trying
to shield his students from two Neo-Nazi youth on a
bombing and
shooting rampage at Columbine High School in
Littleton, Colorado. Sanders
gave his life, along with 12 students, but other
less heralded heroes
survived the Colorado blood bath.

You want heroes?

Jane Smith, a Fayetteville, N.C., teacher, was moved
by the plight of
one of her students, a boy dying for want of a
kidney transplant. So
this pretty white woman told the family of this
handsome 14-year old black
boy that she would give him one of her kidneys. And
she did. When they
subsequently appeared together hugging on the Today
Show, even tough little
Katie Couric was near tears.

You want heroes?

Doris Dillon dreamed all her life of being a
teacher. She not only
made it, she was one of those wondrous teachers who
could wring the
best out of every single child. One of her fellow
teachers in San
Jose, Calif., said "she could teach a rock to read."
Suddenly she was
stricken with Lou Gehrig's Disease, which is always
fatal, usually within
five years. She asked to stay on the job-and did.
When her voice was
affected she communicated by computer. Did she go
home? She is running two
elementary school libraries. When the disease was
diagnosed, she wrote the
staff and all the families that she had one last
lesson to teach -- that
dying is part of living. Her colleagues named her
Teacher of the Year.

You want heroes?

Bob House, a teacher in Gay, Georgia, tried out for
Who Wants to be a
Millionaire. After he won the million dollars, a
network film crew
wanted to follow up to see how it had impacted his
life. New cars? Big
new house? Instead, they found both Bob House and
his wife still
teaching. They explained that it was what they had
always wanted to do
with their lives and that would not change. The
community was both
stunned and gratified.

You want heroes?

Last year the average public school teacher spent
$468 of their own money for
student necessities -- work books, pencils--
supplies kids had to have but
could not afford. That's a lot of money from the
pockets of the most poorly
paid teachers in the industrial world. Public
schools don't teach values? The critics are dead wrong. Public education
provides more Sunday school
teachers than any other profession. The average
teacher works more hours in
nine months than the average 40-hour employee does
in a year.

You want heroes?

For millions of kids, the hug they get from a
teacher is the only hug
they will get that day because the nation is living
through the worst
parenting in history. Many have never been taken to
church or
synagogue in their lives. A Michigan principal
moved me to tears with
the story of her attempt to rescue a badly abused
little boy who doted on a
stuffed animal on her desk -- one that said "I love
you!" He said he'd never
been told that at home.

This is a constant in today's society-two million
unwanted, unloved,
abused children in the public schools, the only
institution that takes
them all in.

You want heroes?

Visit any special education class and watch the
miracle of personal
interaction, a job so difficult that fellow teachers
are awed by the
dedication they witness. There is a sentence from
an unnamed source which
says, "We have been so anxious to give our children
what we didn't have that
we have neglected to give them what we did have."
What is it that our kids
really need? What do they really want? Math,
science, history and social
studies are important, but children need love,
confidence, encouragement,
someone to talk to, someone to listen, standards to
live by. Teachers
provide upright examples, the faith and assurance of
responsible people.

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