We’re failing our children!
Last summer I posted a rant against the GOP’s demonization of teachers that gained a bit of traction. It went like this:
In any rational society, teachers are not considered “costs”. They are considered assets. Something to be valued. Something to be rewarded. The Republicans have done an amazingly effective job of turning the public’s perception from seeing teachers as a valuable asset to seeing them as parasitic leeches on the jugular vein of society. Rather than valuing them for the important role they play in our society — that of educating our children — they are now coming to be viewed as a “cost”, something to be cut when times get hard.
We have cut their pay, increase the amount they pay for healthcare, reduce their retirement benefits and make it nearly impossible to bargain on their own behalf. And yet we expect them to effectively educate our children. We do this to help pay for massive tax cuts for businesses. And then we expect them to come to work each day, stand in front of the next generation of leaders and scientists and parents and doctors and trash collectors and make them ready to take their place in society.
Meanwhile, we scream collectively that our schools are failing our children.
I’m not sure how doing all of the things we are doing to our teachers constitutes “making our schools better”, to quote House Speaker Jase Bolger. What I do know is that a society that devalues its educators is destined to slowly circle the drain until it glugs down into an empty, fetid tub of ignorance and stupidity. It’s not possible for a society to excel or to compete on the world stage when its children are educated by people that are treated as if they are parasites.
We are at a turning point in our society with regard to the education of our children. What is happening in Michigan and in Wisconsin and elsewhere to our teachers is going to be our nation’s future unless we act soon. We cannot continue to cast teachers as a “cost” to be cut whenever possible. We must turn around our country’s way of thinking about our educators and their value to society. Because, if we don’t, we will become a nation of uneducated fools. When that happens, our destiny will be controlled by the countries that DO value education, not by us.
That demonization of our teachers has continued unabated. It’s truly bad here in Michigan but, really, it’s bad everywhere in the USA. And now we know that our GOP front runner, Mitt Romney hates teachers, too:
But the role I see that ought to remain in the president’s agenda with regards to education is to push back against the federal teachers unions. Those federal teachers unions have too much power, in some cases, they overwhelm the states, they overwhelm the local school districts. We have got to put the kids first and put these teachers’ unions behind.
You can watch the video of him saying this on FOX “News” HERE.
This statement comes on the heels of a new report out by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that shows teachers work, on average, more than 50 hours per week.
Teaching is a much talked about yet often misunderstood profession. Educators frequently hear well-meaning comments from parents and friends like “It must be so sweet to spend your days with children” or “How wonderful to be done for the day by three o’clock.” Are they serious?
Teaching is joyous, but it is also hard work! It is fast-paced, multi-faceted, and complex. I should know. I spent many years as a teacher and it is the hardest and most satisfying work I’ve ever done.
A new report (pdf) from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession, finally quantifies just how hard teachers work: 10 hours and 40 minutes a day on average. That’s a 53-hour work week!
These numbers are indicative of teachers’ dedication to the profession and their willingness to go above and beyond to meet students’ needs. It never was, and certainly isn’t now, a bell-to-bell job.
Anyone who knows a teacher already knows this is true. You don’t even have to know a teacher to know that some of them have continued to work without pay when their districts are in financial emergencies. Take Highland Park teachers:
The Michigan Department of Education gave the Highland Park School District an advance on its state aid Wednesday, meaning employees will get paid Friday — a week late.
The $178,000 advance on the March 20 state payment — the second advance the district has received this year — will provide a short-term fix to a financial crisis in the district that has led to an $11-million deficit.
Despite the lack of a payday, employees came to work every day this week. [...]
“The teachers of Highland Park have stepped up and shown extraordinary commitment to their students by coming in this week, even though they did not receive a paycheck last Friday,” state Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a statement.
“Neither the teachers or students are responsible for the financial mismanagement of the Highland Park School District. This action today acknowledges the efforts the teachers are putting forth.”
Teachers bring in food for hungry kids. They purchase supplies that schools cannot afford to provide. They work long hours, deal with difficult kids and their more-difficult parents. All the while Republicans tell them they are worthless parasites that are failing our children.
And Mitt Romney, the GOP front runner for president, is right there with these hideous ignoramuses, chanting “down with teachers” right along with them.
[Image credit: Free Foto]