The word “hero” is often overused. But with yet another school shooting, this time at Taft Union High School, a teacher once more stood in the line of fire and saved the lives of children. At Sandy Hook Elementary School, some teachers spilled blood and gave their lives so that their precious charges could live. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.” It is a dishonorable tragedy that our nation continues to undervalue its teachers.
During a strike by Chicago teachers, Mitt Romney accused teachers in that city of turning their backs on “hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city’s public schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education.” Teachers in Wisconsin were disgracefully demonized and accused of being greedy by a media and public not knowing the meaning of that word “hero,” while trillions of dollars continued to pour into banks. Governor Brown, in a thinly disguised act of extortion, threatened to further gut funding for California schools unless the public paid more money into state coffers in the form of higher taxes. And, it continues to be a great shame in California that we pay more money to incarcerate than to teach.
As a country, we must honor our teachers. Visit any school in the nation on any day and you will see that they are worthy of this respect. To not treat them so is to denigrate those who, in the words of Lincoln, “gave the last full measure of devotion.”
Winston Churchill was talking about the Battle of Britain when he gave one of his most famous speeches. He may well have been talking about Columbine, Newtown or Taft, when on August 20, 1940, he said the following:
“The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world…goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world…Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”