Professional Educators

Standing Up to Attacks on Teachers

A video of actor Matt Damon defending public school educators went viral this week. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell expanded on Damon’s comments. “Teachers who have committed their lives their lives to the classroom deserve better than our politics has given them,” said O’Donnell.

Anne Goff, a teacher in Eugene, Oregon responded to O’Donnell’s “The Last Word” segment and addressed the issue of blaming teachers in the letter below:

Mr. O’Donnell,

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Thank you, thank you, thank you from one teacher in Oregon. Hearing someone speak out against the current attacks on teachers as you did in your The Last Word segment gives me hope that someday sanity will return to our discussions of public education in this country. You are so right when you list the multitude of factors that impact student achievement. As a teacher for 23 years (the last 14 of them teaching children from low income homes), I see the impact these factors have on students and their ability to learn. As long as all we do is blame teachers, we cannot move into serious discussions of what we need to do to help all children learn.

Again you hit the nail squarely on the head citing right wing politics and an agenda of union bashing as the reason behind the current climate of teacher blame. It has been a vicious attack on teachers, on teaching as an honorable profession, and on our unions. As an active member of my union at the state and national level, I know my union does not stand in the way of student achievement but actively works to support teachers and children. Both the Oregon Education Association and the National Education Association are working to support positive changes in teaching and student learning through the Priority Schools Campaign.

Yes I am a teacher, as are so many, because I love teaching. Despite the long hours, I am a teacher because I care about the kids I teach. Even though it is not always easy, I am a teacher because I know I make a difference in children’s lives. I get to touch the future one child at a time.  No amount of bashing or blame from all sides can change the fact that I teach because I want all my students to become critical thinkers who love learning and who believe in their own potential.

Thank you again for being so vocal, so articulate, and so right.

Anne Goff
Springfield School District, Eugene, Oregon

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