[Blog] In Defense of the Teachers and the Teaching Profession by Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

In Defense of the Teachers and the Teaching Profession

by Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

May I invite the attention of the people with regard to the international news featured in Yahoo concerning the eloquent and impassioned defense of the teachers and the teaching profession so beautifully delivered by the American actor, Matt Damon in a public rally organized by the teachers/educators themselves on the grassroots level!

Through this humble medium may I be allowed to express my sincerest appreciation and indomitable admiration to the said actor for coming out into the open and throwing his lot to the cause and interest of the teaching profession! I respect him for his courage and sense of social justice to stand up on behalf of the teachers whose deplorable and harrowing plight he lucidly and forcefully highlighted to the attention of the American people and into the minds of all the citizens of the world.

According to the said news site: “Damon was speaking at Sunday’s Save Our School’s rally, where thousands of teachers and educators descended on Washington D.C. to protest the Obama administration’s education policies. The rally wasn’t organized by either of the major teachers’ unions, according to the Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss, but was a grassroots protest against the focus on standardized testing, No Child Left Behind, and what protesters say is the scapegoating of teachers for problems such as childhood poverty”.

In the said event, Damon got into a tense exchange with a journalist who argued and claimed that the actor has an incentive to work hard as an actor because he lacks job security, while teachers do not. Our actor gave a firm retort! Here’s the ‘exact’ reply of Damon: “You think job insecurity makes me work hard?” the actor asked in disbelief. “A teacher wants to teach. Why else would you take a sh*tty salary and really long hours and do that job unless you really love to do it?”

Further, according to the reports, Damon was asked by his mother, who is herself a teacher being a child development expert, to speak at the rally.

Here’s a portion of his speech to the said gathering:
I flew overnight from Vancouver to be with you today. I landed in New York a few hours ago and caught a flight down here because I needed to tell you all in person that I think you’re awesome.

I was raised by a teacher. My mother is a professor of early childhood education. And from the time I went to kindergarten through my senior year in high school, I went to public schools. I wouldn’t trade that education and experience for anything.

I had incredible teachers. As I look at my life today, the things I value the most about myself — my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity — all came from how I was parented and taught.

I said before that I had incredible teachers. And that’s true. But it’s more than that. My teachers were EMPOWERED to teach me… Now don’t get me wrong. I did have a brush with standardized tests at one point. I remember because my mom went to the principal’s office and said: ‘My kid ain’t taking that. It’s stupid, it won’t tell you anything and it’ll just make him nervous.’

I shudder to think that these tests are being used today to control where funding goes.

This has been a horrible decade for teachers. I can’t imagine hoe demoralized you must feel. But I came here today to deliver an important message to you: As I get older, I appreciate more and more the teachers that I had growing up. And I am not alone. There are million s of people just like me.

So the next time you’re feeling down, or exhausted, or unappreciated, or at the end of your rope; the next time you turn on the TV and see yourself called “overpaid;” the next time you encounter some simple-minded, punitive policy that’s been driven into your life by some corporate reformer who has literally never taught anyone anything… Please know that there are millions of us behind you. You have an army of regular people standing right behind you, and our appreciation for what you do is so deeply felt. We love you, we thank you and we will always have your back.

Such brave and beautiful words of recognition, justice, sympathy, humanity and solidarity!

Lastly, may I remind President Obama regarding his speech on the State of the Union Address dated January 25, 2011:
In fact, to every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of the child — become a teacher. Your country needs you.

Very well said Sir! We are doing your job, please also do yours; render and give us the due recognition and the justice that we justly and undeniably deserves!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

August 4, 2011
Subang Jaya, Malaysia

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