Dear Bill and Melinda Gates:
As an educator who began my career in 1974 and a recent retiree of 34 years in inner-city classrooms, I’d like to share why those of us who chose to devote our lives to the service of children are so passionate about maintaining the purity and integrity of our profession.
Obviously, none of us entered teaching in pursuit of wealth and fame. If we had, we’d have jumped ship long ago and enrolled in more computer classes. Educators are members of a select society of idealists, philosophers, and dreamers who, despite all odds and reason, still struggle to make a meaningful contribution to the welfare of society through the improvement and advancement of our children. We are pure and devout in our mission. We have no hidden agendas. We are champions of the human spirit, purveyors of knowledge, crusaders for justice, catalysts for change. Ours is a sacred trust which transcends all areas of academia and to which only the most stalwart may belong. As such, we recognize that lasting change demands patience and vision. We bear witness to and grapple with the complexities of our children’s lives and environment, even as we work tirelessly to abate the myriad of obstacles and challenges which impede our efforts. As guardians of the public trust, we unselfishly and courageously risk life, limb, and unwarranted criticism every day, bolstered by each child’s victory, to remove barriers and provide opportunities in our ever-changing world. Few professions are as devoted to their mission. This is why, against all odds, we remain indefatigable. Through a daunting and often thankless journey, we work towards the inevitable reward which comes after laboring long and hard in a boiling classroom in August to its final fruition in the triumphant march of successful graduates in May. This is the ultimate prize that adds credence to our ministry.
It is a mission for which we have been trained and to which we unselfishly commit ourselves. No government agency, no corporation, no Congressional committee can do our jobs and educate our children as well as we who have dedicated our lives to this trust. All corporate visions are misguided in that they serve only to diminish a profession which refuses to be quantified, privatized, or compartmentalized through darkened circles on Scantron sheets. Any intrusion from outside private-interest groups can only stifle the creative, unbridled power of the communal spirit which is the foundation of all learning. Education must emanate from a symbiotic union of teachers, students, parents, and community leaders moving in the same direction with the welfare of our students and communities at the forefront. Profit must never serve as the impetus for change. If you profess to seek justice for our students and our profession, the only alternative is to join in our mission towards a just and lasting change, one which can only be accomplished within our neighborhoods, within local, established schools which constitute their life’s blood, and under the direction and authority of their teachers, students, parents, and community leaders who share a common mission and who place posterity above profit.
Lena K. Condic
Retired Educator – 34 years