By Betty R. Anderson
Another child needed food today. She glanced at her checkbook and decided to stop by the grocery store. Another child came to school today in freezing weather without a coat. She called her husband and told him to bring the coat she left on the chair by the door. She was in the middle of putting her schedule on the board when someone interrupted her halfway through. She stopped at 11 o'clock.
Today wasn't a half day of school, but some of the students panic, for this would mean that they wouldn't get lunch. They needed that lunch, for often there wasn't any food waiting for them at home. She started a program with her own money to have food ready for those students. She followed him through grade school, high school and part of college, offering him words of encouragement. His students came first. They needed books to read, so he used his money to buy books for them. There are children who need an advocate and she spends time speaking for these children.
Who are these people? They are teachers. Teachers should have a special place in the heart of all Americans. Many countries show great respect for their teachers. Some teachers still receive email from some of their students from other countries.
There is a need for leaders to work hard at building a future for the most precious gift, our children. They need to set a good example by supporting the teachers. Where is the support? Why do you choose to use the teachers as a way of satisfying financial goals that have plagued the state for years? Your false promises, dishonest leaders and an unfair justice system that punish all, especially teachers, who believed they were planning for a future outside the classroom.
You have the power to be fair; as Frederick Douglass says, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Stop the punishment. Teachers who earned Social Security while working other jobs prior to becoming educators ended up losing many of those benefits, and now it's their pension. Leaders, do you all have a clue as to what's really happening today in society?
Leaders, sincere honest leaders. Where are you? Do you have children, grandchildren? Of course you do, and all teachers are thankful for you and the support that you give. You can be sure of the effort that teachers put forth in the classroom in order that your children and grandchildren receive the best education possible.
Praise to the leaders who see teachers' predicament and strive daily trying to get the deserved benefit for teachers. Teachers will not forget. They will not let their leaders stand alone, for teachers care!
The state is hurting, but it will never recover at the expense of someone else's survival, nor until honesty become a tool of survival.
Students need teachers. The position where teachers are today does nothing to encourage young people to enter the field of teaching. Teaching is a profession that must not die. They need to be appreciated for who they are. They are willing to go the last mile for their students, whether it's mentoring, supervisors, buying pencils, books or just being there.
Why should teachers suffer in so many ways, when all they want to do is a first rate job? They put so much of self into the classroom. Reaching out to their students and the students' parents has become a part of who they are. Who are they? They are people who have become teachers.
Betty R. Anderson, who is a retired third-grade teacher from Champaign Unit 4 School District, lives in in Westville. She loves to write and she wrote her first book, "Reaching For The Beauty and Facts of Life," last year. Her book of short stories, "Last Chance," will be out the middle of March.