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EDITORIAL: Want to keep good teachers? Try this

| October 26, 2022 1:00 AM

Scott Traverse has been teaching for 26 years. The Woodland Middle School social studies instructor has been at it long enough to now be teaching former students’ children.

Traverse has imparted a lot of knowledge in all those years. He’s learned plenty, too.

For one: A visit to a classroom will do wonders to some skeptics’ view of what actually takes place inside those walls.

Traverse was among more than 500 Idaho teachers who responded to a survey by Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). He was profiled last week in a story featuring Idaho teachers’ takes on the state of education.

Traverse was wincingly honest. He said the second reason he will continue teaching while others are leaving the field is because the state retirement benefits are so good. But his first reason to stick with a job that is decreasingly rewarding in many ways? “I still love teaching,” he said.

Lucky for his students, their parents and the community at large.

Traverse pulled no punches, either, when he addressed criticism of teachers and public education in general. He told IdahoEdNews that visitors to a classroom would see how children are real people, “not numbers or test scores.”

And legislators? "If politicians came in and didn't stay for a half hour, but for a week, there'd be an apology letter and a thank you letter."

While there’s no school bond, levy or K-12 trustee positions on the Nov. 8 ballot, relentless criticism often based on outsiders’ lies for monetary and political gains has made public education a 24/7 referendum.

Example: A watchdog called Media Matters counted the number of times CNN, MSNBC and Fox News mentioned Critical Race Theory last year. CNN and MSNBC referred to Critical Race Theory a combined 1,854 times, often attempting to explain what it is.

Fox News? The most-watched cable news channel mentioned Critical Race Theory more than 3,900 times in 2021, a tasty chunk of the organization’s culture wars-rich programming, Media Matters found.

But this editorial isn’t an analysis of cable “news” garbage from both the left and the right. It’s about Traverse and the many hundreds of Idaho teachers like him who teach because they love to teach. They love to teach because they understand that the children they assist benefit society in turn.

We don’t believe for a minute that any legislator will spend a week in a Lakeland, Post Falls or Coeur d'Alene district classroom. Nor do we expect a single reader to unplug from their cable news or social media habits.

What we ask is this: That the many parents and grandparents with kids or grandkids in local public schools express their thanks to teachers making a difference in children’s lives.

For teachers like Scott Traverse, a few positive words trump a bump to the retirement account every time.

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