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EDITORIAL: Teachers have become all-too-easy targets

York Dispatch
  • Some York County schools have had difficulty finding qualified teachers.
  • It is becoming particularly difficult to find qualified math and science teachers.

They've become easy targets.

Every year, when the property tax bills come out, they get blamed for the latest increase.

Student teacher Brian Baker gets a high-five from student Bella Newman while working on writing letters of the alphabet in a Autistic support class at Valley View Elementary School , December 9, 2016.John A. Pavoncello photo

Every year, when the latest test scores are revealed, they get blasted for the most recent decrease.

Whatever problems plague our public schools — and there are many — often get placed at the feet of convenient scapegoats.

We're talking, of course, about public school teachers.

Decades ago, teachers were among the most respected members of our community.

Today, they're often among the most vilified.

To their critics, they've become overpaid and underworked, more committed to their union bosses than to the students they teach.

No matter the forum — social media, newspaper letters to the editor, radio talk shows — teachers have found themselves in the crosshairs of their detractors.

So last week's report in The York Dispatch about a shortage of qualified teachers in York County, especially in math and sciences, should surprise absolutely no one.

You can only continually denigrate a profession for so long. Eventually our children will get a very clear message — teaching is not a career worthy of pursuing.

After all: “Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.”

That's a favorite saying among those who revel in criticizing teachers.

Some criticism warranted: Does that mean that all criticism of teachers is unwarranted?

Of course not.

Every profession will include individuals who tarnish the reputation of that occupation.

There is no doubt that there are some less-than-stellar, tenured teachers out there who are simply counting the days until their lucrative pensions kick in.

There is also no doubt that there are even a few teachers who are sexual predators. You can read about them in the news.

Fortunately, however, those instances are relatively rare.

The majority of our teachers are hard-working, committed and smart.

Most are doing their best under increasingly difficult circumstances.

Budgets are always tight, resources are sometimes scarce and the pressure to produce high test scores is mounting.

New grades for Pa. schools would give less weight to testing

“Teaching to the test” is often becoming more important than developing critical thinkers who can excel in the workplace and in life.

In addition, teachers must often deal with disinterested or overbearing parents, along with disruptive and unmanageable students.

It's not an easy job, but it's one of the most vital vocations in our society.

Ask any successful person, and that individual will likely be able to name multiple teachers who played pivotal roles in their development.

That's why it's so important that we don't use a broad brush to paint our teachers as lazy or incompetent.

Administrators feel teacher shortage in York County

First, it's usually not true.

Second, that message is sure to get through to our children. They will quickly learn to disrespect our teachers and view the profession with disdain.

Sadly, the impact of the constant teacher bashing is likely already being felt in the shortage of qualified teachers.

Hopefully, the trend can be reversed quickly.

Because teaching our children is among the most important jobs in our society.