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America’s Heroes also Work in Fire Departments, Hospitals and Public Schools

Gen. Kelly needs to zip it

But really, why stop there? What about America’s public schoolteachers? Theirs is a profession that was once highly respected but today they are widely trashed by the likes of Trump Education Department Secretary Betsy Devos and Republican politicians in Congress. The average starting pay of a public school teacher in New York City — for a person who has earned a bachelor’s degree — is $45,560. That’s a lot higher than the US military is paying a new enlistee. But how about a recruit just out of college and ROTC, which is more comparable? That person starts out in the Army at an E-4 rank earning $25,000, but again, will be posted on a base with no cost of living expenses. The starting teacher, meanwhile, living in one of the most expensive rental markets in the country, will be spending probably $18,000 on rent alone, and also will be paying city and state taxes which the ROTC grad won’t. And starting pay for teachers in many school is far lower than in NYC. (Also the ROTC recruit got most of her or his college tuition covered and received a stipend, while the young teacher starts off deep in college loan debt for her or his degree.)

But how about that teacher’s motivation? Many, like my daughter who taught math for five years in inner city New York high schools, went there by choice, because she felt that as someone with a masters degree in mathematics and training and experience as a teacher, she could really make a difference in the lives of kids who were from poor and struggling families — and she did. Does Gen. Kelly think that kind of dedication — and it’s a dedication shared by many teachers who choose to teach in schools that serve such children, rather than seeking out better-paying teaching posts in wealthy suburban districts — is somehow of a lower order than people who opt for a career in the military? Apparently so.

For that matter, is serving the US military in a combat zone, for most military personnel, that much less dangerous than being a teacher in many US inner cities riven by drugs and gang violence and drive-by shootings? Just getting to and from work in cities like Camden, Philadelphia, parts of New York City or Chicago or many of our larger cities takes courage. And remember, teachers aren’t riding in armored Humvees or flying high above the fray in virtually invincible fighter-bombers. Most of them are walking to work or riding on public transit -- they aren't issued body armor when they do it either.

As far as I’m concerned Gen. Kelly is full of it and himself. It takes nothing away from America’s men and women in uniform to say that there are unsung heroes all around us, right here in America. They don’t wear desert camo; they wear the clothes appropriate to their jobs as teachers, nurses and nurse’s aides, firefighters, EMTs, etc. People don’t applaud them as they pass, thank them for their service or give up seats for them on airplanes but they are heroes all the same.

Rep. Frederica Wilson, singled out as an “empty barrel” by Gen. Kelly in his lie-laced tirade against her, was an urban schoolteacher before she became an urban school principal, and before she decided to run for and win a seat in Congress. And nobody can tell me she isn’t as noble a public servant and hero for what she’s done in her life as the four-star General whose current assignment in retirement is supposed to be keeping our sociopathic president from going off the rails.



story | by Dr. Radut