Friday, March 20, 2015

Should Robbing and Blaming Teachers Have Popular Appeal?

“In recent weeks, Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois has traveled the state promoting his proposal for more than $2 billion in cuts to pensions for public employees. All public employees, that is, except police officers and firefighters. ‘Those who put their lives on the line in service to our state deserve to be treated differently,’ Mr. Rauner said in his February budget address to the state legislature.

“By announcing the exemption, Mr. Rauner was following the lead of other Republican governors in the Midwest who have imposed unwelcome changes on state and local employees in the name of saving money and improving services… All these exemptions and carve-outs have a popular appeal. Who, after all, would deny the heroism of police officers and firefighters? The hitch, labor experts contend, is that the exemptions lack any substantive merit…” (Public Pension Cuts Exempt Police and Firefighters). 

In what other profession by David Reber:

“…Countless arguments used to denigrate public school teachers begin with the phrase ‘in what other profession….’ and conclude with practically anything the anti-teacher pundits find offensive about public education. Due process and collective bargaining [and pensions] are favorite targets, as are the erroneous but tightly held beliefs that teachers are under-worked, over-paid (earning million-dollar pensions), and not accountable for anything. In what other profession, indeed.

“In what other profession are the licensed professionals considered the LEAST knowledgeable about the job? You seldom if ever hear ‘that guy couldn’t possibly know a thing about law enforcement – he’s a police officer,’ or ‘she can’t be trusted talking about fire safety – she’s a firefighter.’ 

“In what other profession is experience viewed as a liability rather than an asset? You won’t find a contractor advertising ‘choose me – I’ve never done this before,’ and your doctor won’t recommend a surgeon on the basis of her ‘having very little experience with the procedure.’ 

“In what other profession is the desire for competitive salary viewed as proof of callous indifference towards the job? You won’t hear many say ‘that lawyer charges a lot of money, she obviously doesn’t care about her clients,’ or ‘that coach earns millions – clearly he doesn’t care about the team.’ 

“But look around. You’ll find droves of armchair educators who summarily dismiss any statement about education when it comes from a teacher. Likewise, it’s easy to find politicians, pundits, and profiteers who refer to our veteran teachers as ineffective, overpriced dead wood. Only the rookies could possibly be any good, or worth the food-stamp-eligible starting salaries we pay them…

“If that entire attitude weren’t bad enough, what other profession is legally held to PERFECTION…? Are police required to eliminate all crime? Are firefighters required to eliminate all fires? Are doctors required to cure all patients? Are lawyers required to win all cases? Are coaches required to win all games? Of course, they aren’t.

“For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world. Crime happens. Fire happens. Illness happens. As for lawyers and coaches, where there’s a winner there must also be a loser. People accept all these realities, until they apply to public education.

“If a poverty-stricken, drug-addled meth-cooker burn downs his house, suffers third degree burns and then goes to jail, we don’t blame the police, fire department, doctors, and defense attorneys for his predicament. But if that kid doesn’t graduate high school, it’s clearly the teacher’s fault. And if someone – anyone - tries to tell you otherwise, don’t listen. He must be a teacher” (In what other profession by David Reber). 

I am on your side by Diane Ravitch:

“…I recognized that I have a mission to support teachers in a terrible time. I am doing that, and I will continue to do it, in articles, blogs, and whenever I am on a radio or television show. I will stand up and fight those who demean teachers.

“I do it because I admire teachers. I could not do for a day what teachers do every day. I could not manage a classroom of twenty-five five-year-olds. I could not teach thirty-five adolescents who wish they were doing something else. I could not tend patiently to the needs of children with disabilities. Teachers do it every day. 

“There is no more important job in society than teaching. Teaching prepares for the future and preserves the past. Teaching is the one profession, as a now popular saying goes that makes all other professions possible. Teachers take on the most wonderful students and make them better, and teachers take on the most indifferent students and make them better.

“But my admiration for teachers is not the only reason I am on the front lines, trading barbs with teacher-bashers. I support teachers because I am angered by the attacks on a noble profession. I am enraged that people who are wealthy and powerful attack teachers. I am angry that people who owe their station in life to teachers look down on those who educated them. I am angry that so many politicians are making policies that change teachers’ lives without consulting teachers. I am angry that politicians lay off teachers at the same time that they give tax breaks to corporations. I am angry when I hear about states passing legislation to take away tenure and seniority from teachers. I am angry that uninformed people say that experience doesn’t matter and that teachers don’t need academic freedom.

“Having been in the field as a scholar for many years, I can’t believe that leading figures in our society think that a first-year teacher is just as good as or better than a teacher who has been in the classroom for ten or fifteen years. I want to ask every one of them, ‘When you go to a hospital with an emergency, do you want to be treated by an experienced doctor or a fresh resident? When you have a legal problem, do you want to see a lawyer or a law student? Next time you fly, will you feel better if they announce that your pilot graduated flight school a week ago?’

“I can’t believe that so many disparage the value of a master’s degree. In what other field are people demanding that practitioners have less education and fewer credentials? I am astonished that federal policy now demands that teachers be evaluated by the test scores of their students. I have read the research. The results are predictable. Teachers will teach to the test. Schools will narrow the curriculum to only what is tested. States will play games with the test scores and move the goal posts to make themselves look good. Excellent teachers will lose their jobs unjustly. Teachers who know how to drill their students for the state tests will get bonuses and commendations. 

“I am on the side of teachers because most cannot defend themselves and speak out against for fear of losing their job. I speak because they can’t. And I won’t stop until a better day comes. A better day will come, because at some point the American people will realize that we cannot continue to beat up on teachers and to close public schools without endangering our children and our society. And when that day comes, I look forward to giving a personal hug to every teacher I know" (I’m on your side by Diane Ravitch).

What do teachers do best?:

Teachers inspire others. They influence and move people to action. They take a person’s potentiality and make it an actuality. They offer help to others because of their compassion and empathy, because of their humility and dignity. They communicate truths because of their integrity. They never give up because of their moral responsibility towards one another and the importance of trust among individuals. They fight against injustices. They understand; they discuss; they mediate, and they act. They do what is right and model ethical behavior for others. They hold themselves accountable for what they do and what they believe is true.

What are teachers? They are leaders, consultants, diagnosticians and evaluators; they are life-long learners; they are architects for the experiences of others. They are what they want to see in others: their idealism, their indomitable spirit, their commitment to human rights and to the creation of a better society. They are responsible, intrepid and just. They are one of last bastions of hope for a society driven by amoral envy and indifferent greed.

They are appalled by hypocrisy and lies, by incompetence, irresponsibility and cronyism. They are appalled by intentional faulty logic and the unethical scapegoating of others, by arrogance and self-interest, by prejudice and the injustices done to others. They are appalled by indifference because “indifference is not a response.” Therefore, they unite and fight any injustice being perpetrated against themselves and others (What do we do best as teachers?).

—Glen Brown

"In an alternative universe [or] in a world in which the importance of what you did determined your income" (Bob Lyons):

1 comment:

  1. From a friend and colleague:

    “Yes. It (hating teachers) psychologically should and must have popular appeal. Freud says one does not evolve until one resolves previous issues. So think of a bunch of third graders who are too squirmy, too uncomfortable in their plastic seats, too whiny, too hot, too unhappy, too cold, too itchy, too hungry, too strangled by their underwear, too gassy, too tired, too antsy, too angry, too gassy (again), too jittery, too near-sighted (literally), too cold (still). . . You get the idea; therefore, all they can do is to blame the teacher for their lack of pleasure, comfort and fulfillment. Now, unless they resolve their ills then and there (which few third graders are going to do), they will grow up to be adults who hate their teachers for being (as adults) too hot, too cold, too poor, too unhappy. . . . Alas, picture our legislature as a conglomerate of third graders who whine, squirm, fart and belch as they work out their third grade issues by projecting their misery onto teachers.”