The Short of It
An Oklahoma teacher's disgusted open letter to parents asks them to love their children as much as educators do.
Steve Wedel, a 10-year teaching veteran at Western Heights High School, accuses parents of neglecting their kids in a letter on his blog that has been viewed thousands of times. He also blames "inept" lawmakers' constant funding cuts for his struggle to educate kids.
Wedel says parents must "vote for people who will help teachers educate and nurture the kids we share."
Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the AP Literature teacher's powerful missive:
"I love my job. I love your kids. I call them my kids. I keep blankets in my room for when they're cold. I feed them peanut butter crackers, beef jerky, or Pop Tarts when Michelle Obama's school breakfast or lunch isn't enough to fill their bellies. I comfort them when they cry and I praise them when they do well and always I try to make them believe that they are somebody with unlimited potential no matter what they go home to when they leave me."
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He goes on to say about his students, "Often, they stay at school with me for an hour and a half after the bell rings because they don't want to go home to you."
Why? Wedel's letter continues:
"Sometimes when they get sick at school they can't go home because you and the person you're currently shacking up with are too stoned to figure out it's your phone ringing. Sometimes they go home to parents who don't notice them, and those are often the lucky kids. Sometimes they go home to sleep on the neighbor's back porch because your boyfriend kicked them out of the house and his dog is too mean to let them sleep on their own back porch. They go home to physical and verbal abuse. They go home looking for love and acceptance from the people who created them ... and too often they don't find it."
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Clearly this teacher is dealing with seemingly insurmountable obstacles in teaching kids, 90 percent of whom he says are eligible for free or reduced lunches. And he has reached his limit; in fact, after budget cuts eliminated the after-school activity buses for the underclassmen student council he sponsors, Wedel said he had to put his frustration with the system to paper.
"We can't do it alone anymore," Wedel told ABC News.
Wedel says he has received thousands of comments on social media that are mostly positive from all over the world.
"I've gotten emails from as far away as Japan and Australia saying, 'I know what you're talking about,'" he told ABC News.
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The most disturbing part of this deeply invested educator's letter is when he claims he's not the only teacher who considers leaving the profession he loves for the sake of his own children because he simply can't afford to continue.
As a mother of a child in the public school system, I know firsthand how vitally important good teachers are. I also know how much time they put in at work. My daughter's teacher is always available, before and after school hours, and she has children of her own, just like Mr. Wedel.