This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, which makes last week’s letter entitled "Time to stand up to teachers unions” so distressing and so very wrong.

Frederick County is very fortunate to have three unions working with our public school system: Frederick County Teachers Association, Frederick Association of School Support Employees and Frederick County Administrative and Supervisory Association. These organizations advocate for best policies to ensure staff in our school buildings are able to offer an equitable education for all of our students, as well as providing an atmosphere that allows members to grow both personally and professionally.

At a time when our public schools have been tossed upside down by a global pandemic and ever-changing guidelines and regulations, we all need to take a moment this week to thank those who have dedicated their lives and careers to public education, whose purpose according to our founding fathers, was to raise “an enlightened electorate.”

While learning in the pandemic was not “normal,” much learning did and continues to happen. Teachers are continuously repositioning and reworking lessons to meet the needs of our students even while parent groups are demanding the return to 100 percent face-to-face instruction. Teachers have been demeaned for having safety concerns and have been told to “find another job.” The problem is that folks aren’t rushing to become teachers. So when teachers go looking for another job, who will replace them? Enrollment in university-level education programs is down. What is the incentive for a young person to pursue education as a profession? The respect? The salary? The job satisfaction?

I share this quote from a Unesco article about public schools in Finland (and there are no private schools in Finland — they don’t need or want them). “One crucial reason behind the success of Finnish performing education system are the Finnish teachers, who are highly respected professionals in the society.”

This week, I encourage you to remember all of those special teachers, the ones who changed your life, or your child’s life. Ponder how much that teacher meant to you, and then thank the teachers you know. Education for our teachers is a passion, and I hope that we, as a nation, can instill a sense of respect and encouragement in them. They are tasked with enlightening our nation.

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