some notes about education and today’s march in Raleigh

The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. – Luke 6:40

images (2)

Note: the photos of the march are not mine

Several years ago, working in my classroom after the yellow buses had all rolled away for the day, a well-dressed man carrying a briefcase walked in and introduced himself.

I recognized him after he told me his name. It turns out we had taken a couple of classes together at Stetson University and he’d been a fan of the soccer team. After the usual pleasantries what he said next stunned me.

“Help me understand something,” he said. “I remember you as being unusually intelligent… so why would you waste your life doing something like this?” He gestured dismissively around my classroom. “You could be driving a Ferrari like me.”

I’m not sure exactly what I said in reply. I do know I was polite because I can still remember how hard I had to work not to eviscerate him. Talk about a man with sadly misplaced priorities!

Golden Apple

1-IMG_4155I have won a lot of awards in my life, but I still regard my Golden Apple “Teacher of the Year” recognition as one of the most significant. Having the opportunity to profoundly influence the lives of children is largely unparalleled in terms of career significance.

I worked in the classroom for two decades. It was a wonderful experience that harnessed and challenged every ounce of intelligence and creativity I had. And so, au contraire, my self-absorbed Ferrari-driving university classmate, education is exactly where our brightest and most creative thinkers need to focus their attention and their ambition.

Yet, unfortunately, we live in a society where so many of the wrong things are valued. Additionally, and this is deeply sad, the things evidently valued so highly by those in power turn out to be poor and unsatisfying substitutions for what actually matters.

In fact, if we are to ever make any progress as a community, as a people, as a nation, then one of the three best places to start is our schools (the other two are the family and the church), and that means:

  • A) Doing better when it comes prioritizing the way we allocate our resources,
  • B) Letting educators “in the trenches” do their job without constant second-guessing from politicians, and
  • C) Implementing a compensation schedule that actually reflects the proper status of such a critically important job.

download (1)So today I want to place my support behind all those North Carolina Educators marching on the State Capitol in Raleigh.

In addition, I want the rest of us to take this opportunity to reflect on what really matters. I would argue that one of the best ways to realign our priorities is to invest in education. Remember those photos of the children I shared from church Sunday morning? Those are the priorities I’m talking about.

As a culture, we seem to be missing the mark so profoundly and in so many ways. Let’s at least get this right – DEREK





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