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Teachers: A real difference

March 02, 2011 - Dear Editor,

What is your mother's maiden name? In what city were you born? What is your best friend's last name? If you have ever needed a password reminder for an online email or banking account, you've likely had to answer these questions. Why are these questions asked? In my opinion, I would say that they are asked because the answers are burned into our brains because they all relate to important people or events in our lives. They, in some ways, make us who we are. There is another question that is asked frequently for these reminders as well: What is the last name of your favorite teacher?

You have probably heard of the unrest going on in Wisconsin. Depending on who you listen to, there is either a major case of union busting going on or a governor is trying to reign in an out of control budget deficit by any means necessary. This has reignited a debate around our country about our public school teachers. We have all heard the negatives about teachers time and time again: they only work nine months out of the year; they are overpaid; their benefits package is the 'Cadillac' of benefits packages. The list goes on.

As a Brandon High School teacher, I have issues with all of those sentiments. First off, nobody becomes a teacher because of the summers off. If they do, I will guarantee you they do not last long in this profession. If we are overpaid, I would appreciate it if somebody could let my wife know that. I have no complaints about our benefits; they are wonderful. It is one of the perks of being a teacher and one of the reasons that Brandon attracts such great teachers. That leads to this essential question: If we start stripping our job of all the great things about it, why would any of our best and brightest become teachers?

Teachers know that cuts are coming, and we understand the need for everybody to sacrifice. Believe me, we have sacrificed over the last few contracts we have agreed to, just like other professionals. Too often it seems people knock the great stuff about becoming a teacher because they don't get them in their profession. I saw in the news that General Motors hourly workers are going to take home profit-sharing bonuses of $4,300 on average. Should I begrudge them that because I don't get bonuses? With teachers, we cannot show you our profit margins. We cannot quantify the differences we make in students' lives every single day. Teaching is about more than test scores, although we all want the scores higher. If you want to know the truth, that is why we become teachers. Not many professions afford employees a chance to make real and significant differences in peoples' lives, and this one does. So, what is the last name of your favorite teacher?

Nathan Odinga

BHS English Teacher

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