Good time to show teachers how much we really value them

Despite the turmoil in public education in recent years a bright, shiny new school year is set to begin.
Attendance will be checked in Preston and Monongalia counties starting Aug. 15 and Aug. 20, respectively.
For a moment, many may forget the problems plaguing public education when thousands of children show up bedecked in new outfits and backpacks loaded with school supplies.
But the issues of many of our schools being underfunded, overcrowded and not producing the results everyone wants will be tough to ignore throughout the academic year.
In recent years, some political leaders and parents seemingly bounce back and forth from praising teachers to scapegoating them.
From our perspective, the vast majority of teachers are dedicated, up early and late to leave, hard-working professionals. And no one has a better grasp of the challenges faced by our public schools more so than teachers and no one wants their students to succeed more.
Yet, in recent times teachers seems to be underrated for what they do. Yes, the state has approved two 5% pay raises in back-to-back years for teachers and has shored up their health insurance plan.
But it would appear a never-ending challenge our state has yet to successfully address is recruiting and retaining an adequate number of teachers.
Just a quick look at the numbers of teacher vacancies in the state’s 55 counties suggest there are hundreds of positions to be filled, most in classrooms.
We’re wary of qualifying this shortage as critical because it’s probably in constant flux.
Yet judging by this shortage in recent years many classrooms depend on substitute teachers or those less than qualified candidates around the state.
Not just when school resumes, either, but throughout this academic year and in some instances of substitutes not showing, administrators stepping up are not uncommon.
There’s numerous reasons for this shortage, including fewer students pursuing education degrees and simple burn out.
However, we suspect low pay in many counties without excess levies, frequent testing and additional duties that don’t fit their job description play a bigger role.
With schools getting ready to open in the coming weeks, now is a good time to show our teachers how much they are valued.
Some might have it that the latest technology, new ideas about teaching and modern classrooms are behind a school’s success. However, like in any organization, company or what have you, it’s still the people who work there — who teach in this instance — that are the difference.
Though many of us may not have always known the best of everything our children still deserve the best teachers.

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