Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Devoted teachers show faith every day

Actions speak louder than words. I quote from this piece: "As people of faith, they know you don't have to talk about your faith to practice it. " -Angela

Devoted teachers show faith every day

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The parking lot at a nearby elementary school began filling up in mid-July. It was a midsummer mystery to some, but as the son and husband of public school teachers, I knew exactly what was happening.

Teachers were quietly going back to work.

Believe it or not, most public school teachers are back at work weeks before our children show up at their doors.

They spend countless (generally unpaid) hours planning, cleaning, organizing, reorganizing, getting their classrooms, lesson plans and psyches ready for the onslaught of new students and parents, administrative edicts, political posturing and public ambivalence.

Most of us support public schools with our tax dollars. Many of us support them with our children. All of us rely on them to hold society together.

Despite the burdens we put on them and the abuse we pile on them, public schools remain our most valuable and powerful socializing force. More children go to school than to church. Children still spend more time in the classroom than in front of the TV - during the school year, anyway.

Even the Christian Educators Association International, or CEAI, recognizes the value of public schools.

"Public education has the benefit of local, state, and federal funding as well as the best educated and trained teachers in the history of this nation," CEAI explains on its Web site.

"Public schools are usually well funded and have an extensive state and federal system of accountability. Students are exposed to well-developed academic, athletic, and social opportunities far beyond home schoolers and Christian School students.

"For students with special needs, the services are almost endless."

For parents with special

needs, the services don't always measure up.

One of the biggest complaints about public schools is that they are "godless."

"Although not the intent of the First Amendment, many public school educators believe that they must make their schools godless under the banner of 'separation of church and state' to the extent that an environment is created that is hostile to religion," CEAI explains.

To put it in theological terms, that's a lot of hoo-ha.

The vast majority of the nation's 3.5 million elementary and secondary school teachers consider themselves to be people of faith.

As people of faith, they know you don't have to talk about your faith to practice it. They know that you don't have to say that you believe in God to behave as if you do.

Even the folks associated with CEAI know that. They recently held a conference to show teachers how to practice what they preach.

"Regardless of denomination," said Cary Vaughn, a minister and one of the organizers, "teachers wonder how they can share their faith in the workplace when it's prohibited by law in the public schools."

Nonsense. Millions of teachers do that every school day by showing up for work.

In classrooms full of children who are tired, sick, hungry, hyper, depressed or otherwise behaviorally challenged.

Does anyone do more "for the least of these" than public school teachers?

"When you pray, move your feet," says the African proverb. Faithful teachers move their feet all day long.

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