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Letter: Teachers deserve more respect

To the editor,

I recently read a New York Times opinion piece titled, High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries. It makes this point: in the military, our soldiers are sent out to do a job. If that job fails or is not done correctly, or has a history of not performing well, the focus of criticism falls on leaders who plan the support efforts. There are calls for better leadership, more financial support and making sure we give these soldiers the best tools possible so soldiers can carry out the job asked of them.

Rarely have there been rants and attacks that blame the soldiers on the ground for the issue. There are no calls to reduce their salaries/ benefits/retirements because of their lack of performance. If a soldier doesn't perform at the standard they need to, there are evaluation tools in place as well as programs to help them improve before they are dismissed.

Now compare that with the American teacher. These are the folks who are educating the children who will be leading this country, feeding us, building our infrastructures, balancing our finances and financial structures, running our military and protecting us, giving us medical-dental-mental health attention. These are extraordinarily vital to the survival of our country, as well as our day-to-day needs.

However, conversations about these skilled and desperately needed professionals are constantly filled with disdain, disrespect and even hate. Conversations center around giving these professionals the least financial incentive, respect and support, yet we have such high expectations for their performance, and are shocked and angry when these expectations are not met.

This country/ state, needs a mental slap upside the head in our attitude and commitment towards education, to realize the cornerstone it is to the survival and thriving of this country/state, and the individuals who have chosen this as their career. This mind shift will be hard, and the commitment to back it up even harder. This amazing country -- with all her faults and glories -- is in peril if it does not happen.

Regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, stop blaming these "soldiers on the ground" and work with the leadership teams (superintendents, school administrators, legislators, school boards, education commissioners) to make good, solid, 21st century decisions in education.

Veronica Walter,