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Ugh! Why do I read the comments? Blog of the week: Things That Need to be Said

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So the latest from Nick Martin, education reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, is here:

I knew before reading the comments how they would go. You see, every time there is an article that has anything to do with teachers, the comments are always the same tired refrain, slagging teachers for having too many days off, making too much money, giving too much homework, not giving enough homework, disciplining their kids, not disciplining their kids and a whole host of other supposed grievances.

I wonder why the Free Press allows comments on an education-related story. They constantly cut off comments on aboriginal-related stories when they become unacceptable, yet allow the disparaging of teachers to on unchecked.

And why do we as a society tolerate this? Whenever there is a story mentioning a lawyer, is the comment section rife with comments about lawyers making too much or taking too much time off? Of course not. When doctors are mentioned, are the comments towards them as full of hatred? No. Yet for some reason, the Free Press (and this city as a whole) seems to think it is acceptable to slag teachers at every opportunity. Why? Why do we stand for this?

Do they make too much money? Compared with who? Other public servants? Police officers regularly take in more money. So do doctors, lawyers and pretty much most other university professions.

Is it because they have too many holidays? Do the math and start factoring in unpaid after-school meetings, unpaid parent-teacher interviews, unpaid report card preparation, unpaid extra curricular supervision, unpaid assignment marking and curriculum development, and you'll see that's hardly the case.

I could go on and spend this whole post rebutting the ludicrous and completely inaccurate whining that goes on in the Freep comment section, but let's just say most of the comments are inaccurate and wrong. (Notice I didn't say "I believe." It's not a matter of opinion.)

It scares me that people think this way. Shouldn't there be value placed on those who are building the next generation? And yet it seems to be those of a social/religious/political/ethical class (think U.S. Tea Party), a class most would say we can rise above, that seems to be pushing this line.

You may have read or heard John Green's position on taxes and education. Here is a popular quote by the author of The Fault in Our Stars: "Let me explain something. Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or for the benefit of their parents.

"It exists for the benefit of the social order. We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life, you benefit from public education.

"So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don't personally have a kid in school: It's because I don't like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people."

I totally echo that -- I think it is important to compensate and provide a fair working environment for teachers because I want my children and their peers to receive the best education possible. I think most would agree.

So why do we stand for this constant slagging of teachers?

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 15, 2013 A10

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