Bad teachers are far from the norm

While a friend of mine and his wife were eating dinner at a local restaurant the other evening, her cellphone rang. She’s a school teacher. One of her students was calling.He and his siblings were hungry, he told her. Aware of his family situation, she knew the children needed some help. So she and her husband got some take-out food for the youngsters.

On the way to their home, they stopped and bought $60 worth of groceries for the kids, too.

The money for all this came out of the teacher’s pocket.

Every barrel of apples has one or two rotten pieces of fruit in it. That doesn’t mean the rest of the barrel has to be spoiled, too.

It isn’t, in the case of teachers.

What brought all this up? You know, if you’ve read the newspaper during the past several days.

We’ve carried a number of stories about teachers accused of wrongdoing during the past few years. When they come out, some good teachers cringe, I’ve been told. What if the public thinks the schools are filled with villains? They aren’t. Like any profession — including mine — a few really bad people go into teaching.

But think back to your school days. How many teachers do you remember?

Chances are you recall some truly great men and women who combined natural talent with dedication and hard work to reach every boy and girl in their classrooms, even those who had little or no support at home and faced stiff odds against graduating.

Unless you were a youngster who needed help outside the classroom, you probably never knew of the enormous number of good deeds done by many teachers. Hot lunches paid for discretely by teachers, hours spent tutoring after school was dismissed for the day, fellow students who suddenly appeared in clothing you knew didn’t come from home; all of these and more were things of which you may not have been aware.

And, as far as the tiny minority of educators who prey on children, think about the number of child abuse situations police would never have heard about had it not been for calls from teachers and school principals.

Let me assure you, the number of children suffering continued harm at the hands of adults would be much higher if educators were not acting as guardian angels.

People who know nothing about helping children learn sometimes dismiss educators with the old claim that, “People who can, do. People who can’t teach.”

That’s baloney (not the word I would have liked to have used). Good teachers are both masters of their subject matter and of how to help children learn it. Most people have no idea of the psychological and sociological techniques good teachers employ to help their students.

And they are unaware of the many times teachers have, on their own time and with their own money, thrown lifelines to boys and girls who needed help.

Here’s the bottom line: Evil teachers are front-page news in part because they are so rare. The saints of the profession seldom make news because they are the rule rather than the exception.

Trust is a precious thing. The overwhelming majority of educators earn it — and more — every day. They’re good people who aren’t even in the same barrel as the rotten apples.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelliencer.net.