Be careful what you wish for

August 20, 2021

It’s almost time to send my sons back to school. This year brings lots of changes for my family. It’s the first time in three years that my boys will not be attending a school at which I am employed. My oldest is starting middle school, and of course, I worry about the transition. Does any parent ever truly feel that their child is ready?

Unfortunately, my concerns are heightened with the current attacks on public education. As if decades of funding cuts aren’t enough, some state legislators are personally attacking teachers and staff. It’s time to stand up and support our schools and our educators.

Even though we have a record surplus and most Idahoans have voiced their support for public education and teachers, some legislators continue to ask our hard-working educators to continue to do more with less. As long as we keep electing these leaders, we are partially responsible. We have asked teachers to purchase their own supplies and materials, cut their health benefits, increased class sizes, and decreased the availability of aides and assistants. At the same time, we expect them to continue to pursue their own education and increase their knowledge through specialized training (often at their own expense). To make matters worse, we as parents volunteer less, spend less time helping our students learn at home and are in general less involved in the education of our children. Except when it comes to complaining. People seem to show up in full force to display their displeasure at an institution they refuse to adequately support.

Honestly, I am amazed that there are teachers even showing up this year. We have gone beyond placing unreasonable demands on them. Now we are actually attacking them personally. I constantly hear people saying, “Teachers just need to do their job.”

I have a news flash for you. Teachers are trying to do their job, and often they have a second one too. Everyone seems to think that they could do a better job. I think we tried that a year or so ago (parents being the teachers), and how did that end up? Be careful what you wish for.

My grandmother played the organ in church well into her 90s. People often complained that she played too loud or too quiet, she played too fast or too slow, she should have moved the song up a key or she should have lowered it. One Sunday she finally had enough of a regular complainer. “I am really sorry to hear that I messed up again,” she said. “I tell you what, next Sunday I will sit on a bench with my family and pay close attention while you show me how it should be done.”

That person never complained again.

I hope the rest of you will join me in thanking our teachers — and demand changes from those who are supposed to be upholding our tradition of accessible public education.

David Roth

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