Do not underestimate value of good teachers

I am sick and tired of hearing those in power – politicians, community leaders, the media – complaining about the costs of public education. What if they reframed the conversation and debated the costs of not educating our children – of having a generation of Western New York children less intelligent than the one before because there were “better” uses for that money than maintaining a highly qualified network of educators to teach them? It is easy to complain about the costs of the school system because it is one of the few aspects of government in which control is given to the community.

No one goes into teaching to make money; a master’s degree earns more in many other fields. The vast majority of those who choose education as their profession do so out of a sincere love for teaching, and an intrinsic drive to make a difference, and simply request to be recognized for their qualifications. Recent education graduates, often with thousands in loans, enter a profession where the candle burns on both ends. Younger teachers are cheaper to hire but their positions are expendable. Those with decades of experience are pressured to retire after 55, spending their careers becoming a master teacher only to be told their knowledge and skills are “too expensive.”

So go ahead, take the podium at a school board meeting and decry the increase in your property tax. There will still be a dedicated teacher the next day improving the life of your daughter, nephew or grandchild. Teachers are on your side – please treat them as such.

Elizabeth Benz