The summer season of fun, relaxation, and hopefully vacation, has drawn to a close and we are now diving into a new school year! As a teacher, I enjoy the extra time I get in the summer to spend with my two children, but I also know that many mothers welcome being able to get back into school and the routine it brings.
At the beginning of each school year, I think about all the families in Miami-Dade County and the faith they put in our public school teachers to mold their children into well-educated model citizens. These same educators provide the structure, routine, and guidance that our children will need to succeed. Miami-Dade County Public School teachers educate over 350,000 children across almost 400 schools. These students are in many cases more diverse than most school districts in the United States and therefore face some tough challenges.
One fact not often cited is that about 10,000 of our students are homeless or unstably housed. Without a doubt, this poses a daily set of hurdles and challenges for them, their families, and their teachers. As a result, our public schools are often the only safe and nutritional havens these children know during the school week.
The reality is that the role of our educators extends far beyond the classroom. They are more than just people teaching our children academics and fine arts. Many are often called upon to act as guides, mentors, counselors, and caretakers to our children, all while trying to stay focused on the intellectual success of their students.
Despite these and other enormous political challenges, our educators have proven that high-quality public education is achievable and is in fact the norm in South Florida. For the second year in a row, M-DCPS has been declared an “A” district. United Teachers of Dade knows that our teachers are responsible for that achievement through their hard work and perseverance in forging the next generation of leaders for this community.
This is important, because for any society to thrive and prosper, it needs a strong public education system that produces a competent workforce and creates civic and business leaders who will become standard bearers of our nation and our democracy. Indeed, for 90 percent of the population, public education is the singular gateway to achieving independence and becoming a contributing member of society.
Public school teachers also nurture our children and shape their minds with knowledge, dreams, and aspirations. As the United Teachers of Dade, our greatest contribution in all these efforts is to support our education professionals, their career growth, and to help safeguard the very institutions – public schools – that enable them to do the work that help our communities and neighborhoods thrive.
Nevertheless, we recognize that the best and most profound education comes from the home. Your involvement and commitment are the reason why your children excel and mature to be stand up human beings and professionals. Thank you, parents, for entrusting us with your most precious gift and allowing us to be a part of their daily life and their success. May the 2019-2020 school year be everything you hoped for and more.