07/20/2016 02:28 pm ET Updated Jul 21, 2017

An Open Letter To Donald Trump, Jr.: You Are Wrong About Teachers

JIM WATSON via Getty Images

Dear Donald Trump Jr.,

I had the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night in the background while I was preparing for my classes this upcoming school year, as I have done most days and nights this summer. I am a Latin teacher at a public school in Winchester, Virginia. In other words, I work at a Soviet-era department store. At least that is what you said in your speech. Here are your exact words in case you forgot:

Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class, now they're stalled on the ground floor. They're like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and the administrators and not the students.

You just offended an entire profession, insinuating that we are government drones working in an institution that is created for our own personal benefit. I started teaching in 1997, and not once have I heard my profession described in this way.

Tenure or no tenure, union or no union, teachers dedicate our lives to students. Or, as we teachers call them "our kids." No, they aren't "our kids" in a the-government-owns-the-kids sort of way. Calm down. They are our kids because we are as invested in their academic growth and personal development as if they were our own literal children.

To state that schools are not made to serve the students, but instead the teachers, is reckless. ... Teachers deserve respect and support, not inane insults.

Our hours inside of the classroom are only a fraction of the time we spend improving our craft and finding ways to reach all of our students. Our salaries are often pitifully low. Why do we teach? Because we are invested in our students' futures and, by extension, the future of our community and our nation.

I hope my students weren't listening to your speech. You might not have ever encountered a teacher that made a difference in your life, but most people have. Yes, even people who attended public school. To state that schools are not made to serve the students, but instead the teachers, is reckless. Students spend more time at school than they do at home, and they should be able to count on their teachers' professionalism, dedication and genuine concern for their well-being and success.

If you stood in the hallway of my public school, you would hear the principal and other administrators greeting students by name. You would see teachers passionate about their content area, and authentically engaged with their students. You would see insecure children becoming confident adults, preparing to launch and contribute to their communities. Does that sound like a Soviet-era department store to you?

Teachers deserve respect and support, not inane insults. I'm not one to give political advice, but denigrating an entire profession, the very backbone of our society, was a bad move.


Dani Bostick