Area Educators Merit Recognition

Much is written and broadcast about challenges facing public education, and about very serious problems in our schools. Clearly, issues such as student achievement, safe school environment and funding for education — among many others — need to be addressed.

But it also is important to recognize that the vast majority of educators — particularly those in our area — are dedicated, capable men and women who do an enormous amount of good with limited resources.

This is American Education Week, during which the public is asked, in effect, to not take good schools for granted. Here in the Ohio Valley, it often is easy to do just that. Area residents demand excellence from our educators and, in most cases, receive it.

Long before there was a No Child Left Behind federal law, local teachers, principals, school administrators and boards of education were engaged in “reform” efforts. Vision by education leaders, combined with dedication and skill demonstrated by classroom teachers, have meant impressive gains in school quality in most areas of the Ohio Valley.

Fads in education have come and gone with regularity. Sometimes they prove to be helpful additions to the educators’ toolboxes. Sometimes they are little more than “buzzwords” or catch phrases that are of little lasting value.

But what has not changed is the attitude of truly excellent educators. Often, the skill they need to help children learn is overlooked. We suggest that anyone who believes teaching is an easy task — a job anyone who knows his subject matter could do — should visit a school for a few hours. Observing a teacher or principal in action confirms that pedagogy is a complex, demanding science — often an art — requiring much from its practitioners. They are called upon to know their subject matter and to find ways to ensure that students, from the brightest to the most challenged, learn what we as a society believe they need to know.

Again, a variety of challenges regarding public education need to be addressed, some of them by educators and some of them by the public they serve. This week, however, it is important that we recognize that our area’s many fine educators will make the process of improvement easier and more certain to be accomplished.