There seems to be an opinion on the part of The Daily Citizen and some of its readers that teachers are simply not qualified to help run a school district and that only those with business experience should be allowed to lead.

I wholeheartedly disagree. First let me say that I am a teacher, so I am personally offended by that idea. One comment in The Forum said that the most difficult financial decision any teacher ever makes is whether to spend their classroom budget on crayons or colored pencils. (He also called us baby-sitters — I won’t even go there.) That statement not only shows the arrogance of that writer, but also his ignorance.

Yes, we are given very little money to work with (lately only about $150 for the entire year), but that doesn’t make our decisions easier. On the contrary, it creates within us a resourcefulness that would overwhelm the imaginations of most businesspersons. We have to have the ingenuity to create fundraisers where overhead is low and the payoff is high, and then have to have the people skills to get parents to volunteer to run them. We seek out and write grants and we dig into our own pockets.

Not only that, but we have to truly make sure that what we spend our money on directly benefits the children because we understand that there is not more where that came from. We understand that every program that looks good on paper isn’t always good in practice because we have actual experience in the classroom. We don’t look at budget line A and decide that if we do “this” then the federal government will give us more money to do “that” unless “that” is a good thing for kids.

We stay in the classroom in spite of our high levels of education and low levels of pay because kids really are our priority. If one of us is looking for a position on the school board, it’s because we see that things need to change and we know better than anyone just what those things are.

I am not saying that business leaders don’t make good board members, in fact I believe that it is essential that someone with business experience be represented, as well as educators, parents and other community stakeholders.

I simply think the attitude that only business leaders deserve to be on the board is wrong. A teacher should be looked at as a valuable asset to the board, not as someone undeserving of the position.

The Daily Citizen didn’t endorse an educator because of the mess education is in. I’m not sure who makes endorsement decisions for you, but they did not represent you well on this one. I will leave you with this bit of education to help you with future endorsement decisions: Teachers have nothing to do with running the school system, we are only responsible for the piddling task of actually educating the children. We don’t get a vote. We are rarely asked to help make system decisions. You can’t blame this mess on us. Finally, if only a person with business experience can help us solve this education crisis, then why isn’t it solved already?

Try a teacher. You just might learn something.

Heidi Long is a teacher in the Whitfield County school system and lives in Tunnel Hill.


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