Educator discounts? It’s about time . . .

I used to work in the restaurant business, and where I worked, we gave a 50% discount to all uniformed police officers. It was offered to them to be sure they knew that we appreciated their service to the community. In that spirit, I also see discounts or special pricing for the military and their families, which are equally well-deserved.

But where are the discounts for educators? I have to ask, do people appreciate educators – faculty and staff – as public servants? The work of an educator may not be identical to the work of the police or the military, but some similarities do exist.

I grant that police officers and soldiers risk their lives, putting themselves in danger so the rest of can live peaceful lives. Yet, in our own way, teachers serve a vital function in providing safety and security for the community. We care for children, looking after them while parents are at work, and while we have them, we teach them about civility in public spaces, organization in our dealings, and what it means to be well-behaved and accountable for their actions. We do more than give them job skills. All of those lessons contribute to a safe and secure community.

So why should businesses give educator discounts?

Teachers, in recent years, have taken pay cuts when the cost of our benefits went up; we have supplied our classrooms from our own reduced income when supply funding dwindled; and we have graded papers at home after-hours when our class sizes grew. And teachers aren’t the only ones who have “done more with less,” as the popular saying goes. The schools’ many staff members who cook the food your children eat, who clean the bathrooms your children use, and who keep intruders from coming onto campus, often work without thanks. Even if they do thank their teachers, do your children say thank-you to lunchroom workers, custodians and security officers? Have you, reading this, ever said thank-you to them?

In Montgomery County, where I live, thousands of public- and private-school teachers, administrators, clericals, custodians and security guards deserve an acknowledgment of their public service: offering educator discounts similar to the ones offered to police and soldiers would go a long way toward saying thank-you to the hard-working people who meet the many needs of more than 30,000 children in Montgomery’s public schools and another 20,000 children in our private schools.

In our career field, educators listen to angry parents as they malign us, we hold it together as the media criticizes us, and we endure as the politicians and reformers blame us while cutting our funding— in short, we stay on the job even when it’s tough. We keep doing this difficult, sometimes dangerous work that benefits everyone in the community. A little recognition of that couldn’t hurt.

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