Saturday, January 30, 2010

Teacher of the Year

Edward Pate, 42, has been named "Teacher of the Year" for Santa Rosa County. He's a former New York City gallery owner, a law school graduate, and now advanced English and literature teacher at the highly estimable Gulf Breeze High School.

Those are merely his stats. If you met Edward, you'd also appreciate just how smart, organized, dedicated, and extremely hard-working he is. We feel privileged to have met him. His students (and their parents) are most fortunate to have him. There is none finer.

Meanwhile, the Santa Rosa County School Board continues to stall on contract negotiations with Edward and his teaching colleagues throughout the district. It really is demented how topsy-turvy our priorities have become in modern America. We pay barely a living wage to public school teachers, to whom we entrust our children, for god's sake, and their very futures! We turn our kids over to them for the vast majority of each waking workday and pay them a pittance, while showering multi-million dollar bonuses on corporate thieves and Wall Street bankers whose entire raison d'etre is to take us for as much money as they can.

Yes, yes. But all that Florida lottery money supposedly is dedicated to improving education in Florida. Except it doesn't. Instead, it has supplanted state education funding and actually made things worse.

Tell you what. Let's make a minor change in the law to reflect where our priorities should be. Turn the lottery profits over to the banking industry, Wall Street CEOs, and the K-Street lobbying industry and let them spend it as they like. After all, they're gamblers at heart. In exchange, they have to turn over to our schools the tens of billions of dollars squandered on bonuses every year and the trillions of dollars in government subsidies and corporate welfare received annually from the taxpayers.

After that, every now and then when -- and if -- we find a banker or a CEO who is unusually dedicated to the public good, we can have a little recognition ceremony and give him a plaque or something. That would only be fair, right?

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