Legislatively Speaking – Teachers go back to work

By Senator, Lena C. Taylor

State Senator Lena C. Taylor

Before you knew it, summer flew by. Now the beginning of Milwaukee Public School’s academic year is fast approaching. At a few MPS institutions, including Rufus King High School and Reagan High School, classes have already begun.

For everyone else, only a few more weeks lie between now and that fateful day when the bells begin ringing once again.

This is an exciting time for a young person attending school. In order to stay competitive in a globalized world, our children will need to excel in school, especially math and science. The future of our economic well-being lies in the hands of our children. For the time being, our capabilities in these fields still outstrips of our rivals in China and Europe.

And it is all made possible by teachers. Hardworking educators have lately been demonized by some in the media looking for an easy finger to point. Clearly, we are left with the fact that teachers built this great country. Every visionary leader or scientist America ever produced had countless great teachers, without which all would have been impossible. The vast majority of those teachers taught in public schools districts like MPS. Until recently, they would never have been treated as shamefully as we treat our teachers today.

Even the politicians who take away teachers’ working rights do not claim that teaching is an easy job.

Teachers work incredibly hard. Teachers receive little thanks for their efforts, especially in Milwaukee Public Schools. Too often, our teachers called out by outsiders without context or careful consideration.

Think about it. No one could reasonably expect even the best teacher in Milwaukee to be able to get through to every student.

Whether it be the distractions of a difficult home life or the influence of the wrong group of friends, some students will unfortunately struggle. We cannot be so naïve as to excuse the terrible flaws in public education. Too often, however, teachers doing great work are blamed for failures that were not their own.

I’m sure you have known a few great teachers in your life. I think you will agree that a truly great teacher is one who will work unceasingly for his or her students, even when the situation may not be ideal. We must not forget that Milwaukee Public Schools has its share of truly great teachers.

In my book, anyone willing to completely throw his or herself into the difficult task of teaching deserves our greatest respect. Teachers do not teach for the money, even though they deserve just compensation. While the state of Wisconsin should be capable of completely repaying its debt to teachers, Governor Walker’s draconian cuts to education make a mockery of the idea that we should even try.

In Milwaukee, we face the harsh reality of a struggling school system. Over and over again, I have been frustrated with the stories of my constituents. What we need right now is reinvestment in education, not cuts.

Our children’s’ future, and the future of our country, depends on it. And let us never forget that our future also depends on the efforts of the hard-working teachers who make it all possible.