Posts Tagged ‘Sandy Hook’

Our teachers, the troops at home

Monday, December 17th, 2012

One of the many tragedies of the Vietnam War was the way that many soldiers were treated (or not treated) when they returned home. A nation that had been celebrating Veterans Day every 11-11-11 and mourning together every Memorial Day was largely unable to separate the Vietnam War soldier from the national anguish over the war itself.

There wasn’t a New York ticker tape parade for Vietnam vets until 1985, more than a decade after the war ended. It wasn’t until Veterans Day this year that Utah recognized their service in a ceremony at the Utah State Capitol.

Here’s what President Obama said to Vietnam vets in comments at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial just this past Memorial Day:

You were often blamed for a war you didn’t start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor.  You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened.

I think we will soon look back on the past 10 years or so of full-out corporate reform as a similar time, when some of our bravest, most dedicated public servants were called all sorts of names and treated like pariahs and “the problem in education” in their own country.

Secretary of Education Rod Paige called the NEA a “terrorist organization” and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan applauded the mass firing of teachers in Rhode Island as “courageous.”

Yes, we need to regulate guns. Yes, we need to provide more mental health services.

But far easier to do in the short term is to completely disavow the hateful speech and hostile acts being perpetrated on our teachers. We have once again become a nation that honors our troops. We need to sport those yellow ribbons for our teachers as well.

A couple of years ago, I quoted a letter to the Tribune by Gen. Will Clark, who wrote:

Do military leaders blame their troops when a battle is lost? As a retired military officer, I know a military leader would never do that. This responsibility code does not exist for our politicians and senior education leaders…(O)ur politicians and education policy-makers are causing us to lose the war to improve education because they refuse to target a clear objective. Even worse they blame front-line teachers for that loss.

As President Obama said so movingly last night, “(T)his job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation.”

We are all in this together, but we must never forget who is on the front lines in our schools, or forget to honor and respect them.


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.