Teachers have earned the public’s respect

With World Teacher Day (Oct. 5) right around the corner, I felt compelled to respond because professional teachers in Red Deer and Alberta earn, and deserve, the respect of society.

Re. Dale Stuart’s Sept. 25 letter, headlined Teachers should work harder and not be such money grubbers:

With World Teacher Day (Oct. 5) right around the corner, I felt compelled to respond because professional teachers in Red Deer and Alberta earn, and deserve, the respect of society.

I know and understand that in any profession there are weak links, but the great majority of teachers I work with every day are true professionals and fantastic citizens.

As a proud teaching professional in this city, I am often overwhelmed to see the countless hours of volunteer service teachers contribute not only at their schools, but within the community. The extra hours teachers put in, coaching, tutoring and mentoring students inside, and outside of school, is what makes the profession so demanding, and yet so rewarding.

With regards to the salary expectations of teachers, they are not asking for more money, they are simply expecting the government of Alberta to honour the five-year contract they signed more than a year ago.

We all know these are difficult times for Albertans, but the reality is teachers’ salaries are tied to an inflationary formula. This formula is a reflection of inflation in Alberta, and as per contract, it should be paid.

I believe this provincial issue will work itself out, so I won’t waste any more time on this concern.

The more disturbing and damaging parts of Stuart’s letter have nothing to do with money.

Stuart describes teachers in a terrible light with completely inaccurate and contrived information.

What motivates an individual to publicly write such foolish nonsense about a profession he obviously knows very little about?

I may have opinions on other professions, but I would never publicly attempt to humiliate and damage their esteem, and if I did, I would definitely ensure that my opinions were backed up with facts.

I want to assure students, parents and taxpayers that professional educators work very hard to teach creativity, critical thinking, honesty, respect, hard work and the program of studies.

As for teaching our children a “sense of presence, persistence, and responsibility,” we teachers do this every day.

Schools in Alberta, both public and Catholic, are educational institutions with a mission of creating a well-educated and hard-working citizenry.

When democratically elected school boards set calendars for the school year, there are indeed professional development days set aside (not days off) so that staff members, including teachers, are better able to meet the changing and complex learning needs of our students.

In my opinion, this is a sound investment in students and ultimately society.

Professional development is required of any profession, and organizations such as school boards know and understand the importance of this investment for the education of our children.

Stuart states that he is still hearing reports of kids going into high school and failing subjects that they were getting As in while attending middle school. Why? Because “apparently the teachers in the lower grades aren’t properly preparing their students for high school.”

There are infinite reasons that a student going from middle school to high school would face academic difficulties.

To blindly state that “inept instruction” is the reason is an obvious cop out.

Children today face a myriad of academic, social and societal pressures.

Teachers carefully look at students test results, classroom assignments, and classwork to ensure students are learning.

The transition from middle school to high school isn’t easy.

The academic work and requirements placed on students is significant, to be sure. That said, when things go wrong academically for students, all stakeholders, society, teachers, parents, and students need to work together to address and solve the issue.

Stuart, I believe that teachers deserve to be, and are respected members of our community. Based on the many Internet responses your letter to the editor generated at bprda.wpengine.com, many people agree.

Teachers plant seeds, and these seeds grow in each and every individual we touch.

Teachers may never see this influence, but it is there, and it drives us.

I love teaching; it allows me to make a difference with my life!

Happy World Teachers Day!

Chris McCullough

Red Deer

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