Originally posted Nov. 19, 2010 for KVOE.com “What’s On My Plate.”

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This year, Emporia’s All Veterans Tribute ends as American Education Week begins.

The juxtaposition may not strike you at all. It didn’t hit me until Nov. 14. But it’s fitting.

Why? On the surface, you couldn’t come up with two more disparate fields. But I would contend that no other sectors of our population deserve our praise and acclaim.

None get more lip service towards that end. None get so little of the thanks they truly deserve.

On Veterans Day, Congressman-elect Mike Pompeo told local residents we as civilians can best honor our veterans through sound political leadership, high-quality military equipment, outstanding medical care and the proud proclamation America is still a great nation with great ideals. Pompeo was talking about our current situation, but his words would have merit regardless of whether they were spoken last week or 230 years ago.

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Rep. Mike Pompeo speaks at Emporia’s All Veterans Tribute memorial service in November 2010.

 

Veterans don’t need to be kept waiting for months or years – and they don’t deserve a series of loopholes and hoops to get the benefits they have been promised. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. It makes you wonder just how highly our political leaders actually hold our nation’s protectors.

I’m not sure the government gets it when it comes to veterans benefits. Nor am I sure the government or society gets it when it comes to education.

No Child Left Behind is the lightning rod where government is concerned, and with good reason. But society has been heaping responsibility upon responsibility on the backs of teachers the past three decades. Teacher. Guidance counselor. Security guard. Parental liaison. Dietician in some cases.

Education was a monumental task for centuries. Now it’s overwhelming. It’s also fast becoming thankless.

Seriously, not every student will show progress as they move from grade to grade – at least not to NCLB benchmarks.

And sorry, parents, but the person best suited to tell if your little angel is actually a turd monkey, hellion or outright menace to society may not be you. It may well be a teacher.

If you don’t believe my thoughts on education getting short shrift, look at the plight of the National Teachers Hall of Fame and other teacher recognition programs. Wal-Mart, Disney and USA Today have discontinued their programs. The NTHF is struggling mightily with its finances – and it can’t get statewide or national attention for its inductions. A very sad situation, indeed.

A sea change is needed for our veterans and education professionals. It can start with a simple “thank you.” It shouldn’t end there.

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