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A TEACHER'S DILEMMA

Let me see if I've got this straight.

You want me to go into a schoolroom full of kids, and fill their every waking moment with a sense of being nurtured, and a love for learning.

Not only that...I'm to instill a sense of pride in their ethnicity, modify their disruptive behavior and observe them for signs of abuse, drugs, and T-shirt messages, all while television is teaching them that sexual perversion is okay, and killing people is cool.

I am to fight the war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, check their backpacks for weapons, and raise their self-esteem, without damaging their fragile egos by telling them that such behavior is wrong.

I'm to teach them patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, while answering their snickering questions about how it is okay for politicians to subvert the Constitution, take illegal campaign contributions, molest women and bomb innocent people to death, just to divert the media's attention from certain unlawful political behavior.

I'm supposed to tell them how and where to register to vote, how to balance a checkbook and how to apply for a job, even if I know they are in this country illegally.

I am supposed to check their heads occasionally for lice, maintain a safe environment, recognize signs of potential antisocial behavior, and provide them the sound advice and guidance that used to come from their parents and pastor. I am to be held responsible for deciding who might be potentially dangerous and/or liable to commit crimes in school, and I can be sent to jail for not mentioning these suspicions to those in authority.

I'm supposed to instill the idea in them that respect for cultural diversity means being a clone in dress, achievement and political philosophy, and that it is wrong to excel over others or be different by working harder or being innovative. In short, that individuality and personal liberty are bad things. I'm to write letters of recommendation for student employment and scholarships, and, oh yes, to teach them the three R's, in two languages, always making sure to equally distribute my attention according to sex, race and ethnicity.

I'm to demonstrate my school spirit by sponsoring the cheerleaders or some other collateral class activity, and after school I am to attend committee and faculty meetings and participate in staff development training in order to maintain my current certification and employment status.

I'm required by my contract to be working on my own time, at my own expense, summers and evenings, towards advanced certification and a master's degree, so that the school I work for can maintain its accreditation and reputation, and continue to receive federal dollars.

I am to collect personal data on students and their families, and maintain all records to support and document our progress in the state-mandated program to "assess and upgrade educational excellence in the public schools."

I am to be a paragon of morality, larger than life, such that my very presence will awe my students into being obedient and respectful of authority. I am to pledge allegiance to supporting family values, a return to the basics, and loyalty to the National Teachers Union and the current political administration, even though they and their "progressive" entertainment and media friends demonstrate none of these virtues.

I am to take time away from teaching the basics to incorporate Internet technology into their learning, but I'm to monitor all Web sites for appropriate content, while at the same time providing a personal one-on-one relationship with each student.

I am to make sure ALL students pass all classes, and state- and federally mandated tests, whether or not they attend school on a regular basis, cooperate with me, or complete any of the work I assign them. I am to communicate frequently with each student's parents by letter, phone, newsletter and grade card.

I'm to accomplish all these duties with just a piece of chalk, a computer, a few books and a bulletin board, in a 50 minute class, while exuding a friendly, nonthreatening smile, on a starting salary that qualifies my family for food stamps in many states.

I'm to remain loyal in all ways, never breaking ranks or disparaging anyone's agenda , even though I have to sign this lament as "anonymous" in order to protect my job and my future.

Is that all?

And you expect me to do all of this without praying, or without being able to seek help and guidance from my Bible?

Anonymous

For your information

Nation's Teachers' Union Offers Homicide Insurance

July 26, 2001

WASHINGTON - Prompted by school shootings, the nation's largest teachers' union will now offer a special $150,000 benefit for teachers and other school employees murdered at work.

While the National Education Association has offered life insurance to members since the 1980s, this new "unlawful homicide" benefit was only approved this year. It will be announced to the union's 2.6 million members in a September newsletter.

Randy Martin, who handles risk management for NEA Member Benefits, said the new coverage was not the result of any single incident. "It was just the knowledge that these incidents were occurring," Martin said.

"I think it's very good that we're doing this," said Wayne Johnson, president of the California Teachers Association. "I think that it's sad that we need to do it."

The payout for accidental death while on the job is $50,000.This benefit is provided free to NEA members. So families of teachers and other school staff who die accidentally are eligible to receive $50,000.

American Federation of Teachers spokesman Jamie Horwitz said its members have not requested this new "unlawful homicide" benefit, but added that the AFT's benefits historically have mirrored those offered by the NEA. Horwitz said the union would likely consider the homicide benefit.

According to the National School Safety Center, which keeps statistics on school violence for the U.S. government, 28 school staff members - including teachers, administrators, custodians and nurses - have been killed violently at work since 1992. Unfortunately, in the last few years this trend has been gaining ever greater momentum.

Teacher Dave Sanders was among the 13 victims in the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. Most recently, Lake Worth, Fla., teacher Barry Grunow was shot in the head by a student he had sent home earlier on the last day of school in 2000. The 14-year-old boy convicted in this killing was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

"Obviously one death is one too many, and I don't want to minimize the importance of those, but violent deaths as a whole are a small, small percentage of overall school violence," said Ken Trump, an Ohio school safety consultant. He said teachers are much more likely to be just assaulted at work, and not murdered.

Johnson said school violence has become "sort of a sign of the times."

"It's a sad reality that there is this random violence in the public schools," he said. "I'm glad the NEA is doing it. I hope it won't be used very often, but I'm glad it's there for the families of teachers who will be attacked and killed."


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