by Brian Washington
Educators know you don’t go into a classroom and look down on students or strive to teach only half of them. Every student matters and teachers and education support professionals work to reach each and every one.
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That’s why Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney’s comments made at a high-priced fundraiser are still striking a sour note with educators across the nation—one week after the controversial tape showing him making those comments was publicly released.
On the tape, Romney tells a room filled with wealthy donors that his job is “not to worry about” the 47 percent of Americans who “don’t pay income taxes.” He went on to say that Americans who receive any government assistance believe themselves to be “victims”—victims who think they are entitled to handouts. Romney went on to tell the wealthy donors he would never be able to convince this group that “they should take personal responsibility for their lives.”
Romney’s comments proved to be a slap in the face to senior citizens receiving Medicare and/or social security, students getting government loans to attend college, and those who have put their lives on the line while serving in the military—people like Mike Evans, a military veteran and high school teacher in Missouri.
Who are the 47%?
“It is absolutely incomprehensible to me that a presidential candidate in 2012 would even think, let alone say out loud, that people like me are ‘victims’ and don’t want to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their lives,” said Evans. “I am personally offended, and it struck a chord.”
Many of the people Romney attacked as irresponsible dependents pay plenty of taxes—some at an even higher rate than 14%, which is what Romney paid in federal taxes based on returns he recently made public. These Americans are far from freeloaders.
Evans, who said he joined the military because he loves his country, received help from the Veteran Administration’s Vocational Rehabilitation program, which ultimately helped him attend college and eventually led to him giving back to society and doing some of the most fulfilling work of his life—as a teacher.
“I take great pride in my work because I help kids that normally would drop out from school or not graduate, and I help give them the chance to graduate high school,” said Evans. “And I couldn’t have done any of it if I didn’t receive health care from the VA or education opportunities through the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. I was able to receive the great care that I needed to rehabilitate myself and become a contributing member of society.”