Monday, April 23, 2018
Opinion

Give thanks for Florida's teachers

As we enjoy this Thanksgiving weekend, we should remember our teachers when we give thanks.

We entrust them with our most precious assets, our children. Teachers welcome students from all walks of life into their classrooms. The students come with varying ability levels. They come with varying levels of enthusiasm toward school. They come with varying levels of parent involvement in their home lives. Some, sadly, even come without their most basic needs being met at home. Yet with all of these things considered, teachers, every school day, get down to the business of educating all students.

Consider these facts. According to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, Florida's students with disabilities rank first in the nation in gains on the combined fourth- and eighth- grade measures, and Florida's low-income students had the third-largest gains in the same measures. According to the 2011 National Council on Teacher Quality report, Florida earned a B, the highest grade in the history of the report.

According to statistics from the Florida Department of Education and the National Governors Association, graduation rates have improved by approximately 20 percent for all students over the past decade. Furthermore, the gains were similar in the black and Hispanic populations. Thanks to our teachers, we also have 10 times as many A and B versus D and F schools compared to a decade ago.

Simply put, our teachers have played a central role in the real outcomes and improvements we've seen in the Sunshine State. We still have a ways to go in Florida, but teachers have been crucial in getting us where we are today and will, without a doubt, be instrumental in getting us to the next level.

I could cite scores of facts and statistics about teachers' accomplishments in Florida, but it's also important to remember the intangible ways that teachers touch students' lives. That takes me back to my childhood. Having excelled in elementary school, I allowed myself to get off track during the critical middle school years. My middle school teachers were up against some of those external forces that I mentioned above and, for their part, pushed me in the right direction.

In high school, I decided to get my act together and take school more seriously. One of my first steps was to enroll in Algebra I in the 10th grade, a course that many students had completed in the eighth grade. Enter my Algebra I teacher. She recognized my abilities and quickly intervened to get my course of study accelerated and get me more interested in academics across the board. I ended up in several honor societies including the National Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society.

Even after my late start, I also ended up ready to take calculus during my first semester of college. Thanks to this caring teacher, and many special teachers along the way, I graduated in the top 10 percent of my class and was poised for a successful college career. My personal experience is just one of literally thousands that demonstrate how teachers improve outcomes one student at a time.

I'm sure that most of you can look back to a teacher who played a pivotal role in your life, and Florida's teachers will continue to positively impact generations of students to come. To be sure, teachers deserve our thanks year round, but I encourage you to personally acknowledge the efforts and accomplishments of each teacher that you come into contact with during this season of thanks. They deserve it.

Stacy R. White is a member of the Hillsborough County School Board.

Comments
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18