Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, things are not going to get better, it’s not.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, things are not going to get better, it’s not.” - Dr. Seuss

Hello to all of my fellow educators.

Yesterday, as I began this blog, my wife called and asked if I had heard about what happened in Florida. I had not.

I planned to write about some of the exciting, innovative developments I recently had the opportunity to participate in with my fellow TOYs from across the U.S. I thought I could offer some encouragement, even though I, like many of you, was deeply disappointed about the vote on the Step Up Oklahoma bill that would have given teachers a desperately needed raise.

After my wife called, I turned on our TV and sat in sadness, shock and heartbreak, unable to pull myself away. There is no way we can adequately express how we feel about what happened, and yet at the same time, as teachers we know, without saying a word, exactly how we all feel.

The world today is not the same one in which I grew up. We can argue endlessly about what is better or worse or what has caused the changes that lead to unspeakable tragedies like the one in Florida. Too often, such debates accomplish nothing. What matters much more is this: What can be done to restore some sanity?

This is exactly where you and I come in. I know we need God now more than ever, but I also know that God will not act independently of people doing what He has commanded: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Sometimes, a teacher is the last hope many children have to see that principle demonstrated.

As our children continue to lose parents to broken families, as they see parents incarcerated, as they go hungry and suffer abuse, too often, the hurt inside them leads to anger and outrage that is expressed in increasingly destructive ways. That’s why I believe today, our jobs are more important than they have ever been. It is amazing teachers like you, working so hard to invest in the lives of our children, who are holding off dark forces of destruction that are trying to swallow up more and more of our children.

It is the teacher who can foster children’s self-worth by helping them master material. It is the teacher who can calm fears and dry tears. It is the teacher who can provide the guidance and direction so many children lack. It is the teacher who motivates high performers to push themselves, the disengaged to realize their potential and the struggling to believe in their aspirations. Often, it is the teacher who feeds, clothes and even houses students. And, as was tragically the case yesterday, it is the teacher who sometimes gives his or her life for students.

I am convinced that our society depends on your stabilizing influence now as much as at any other time in this nation’s history. I wish I could tell you that tomorrow the world will recognize this, that we will receive the compensation and respect that the overwhelming majority of us deserve. I can’t.

I can only offer you my deepest respect and admiration, having witnessed for 35 years the tremendous work you do every day for our children. And I can only hope that the Good Lord will assure your heart that what you are doing really does make a difference and you really do matter – now more than ever.

- Jon Hazell

Last updated on February 19, 2018