Friday, March 4, 2011

Hot for Teacher

To Fire, Humiliate, Scorn and Beat Up, That Is:

Around the country, many teachers see demands to cut their income, benefits and say in how schools are run through collective bargaining as attacks not just on their livelihoods, but on their value to society.

Even in a country that is of two minds about teachers — Americans glowingly recall the ones who changed their lives, but think the job with its summers off is cushy — education experts say teachers have rarely been the targets of such scorn from politicians and voters.

Republican lawmakers in half a dozen states are pressing to unwind tenure and seniority protections in place for more than 50 years. Gov. Chris Christie’s dressing down of New Jersey teachers in town-hall-style meetings, accusing them of greed, has touched a populist vein and made him a national star.

I would posit that people who can't take care of their own health shouldn't be lecturing others on greed and sloth.

And don't you just love the "they only work 9 months a year!" goofs? Or, from an actual counter-protest sign in Wisconsin: "Your a glorified babysitter. You deserve minimum wage."

In the name of "accountability" the same brain-dead mantras are still winning the debate.

Accountability, particularly as measured by student test scores, has brought sweeping changes to education and promises more, but many teachers feel the changes are imposed with scant input from classroom-level educators. Nearly 70 percent said in the MetLife survey that their voices were not heard in education debates.

Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative-leaning education policy group, said the decline in teachers’ status traced to the success of unions in paying teachers and granting job security based on their years of service, not ability.

“They are reaping a bitter harvest that they didn’t individually plant but their profession has planted over 50 years, going from a respected profession to a mass work force in which everyone is treated as if they are interchangeable, as in the steel mills of yesteryear,” Mr. Finn said.

No, Chester, I believe it's "think tanks" like yours which are reaping the "bitter harvest" and turning teaching "from a respected profession to a mass work force in which everyone is treated as if they are interchangeable."

Somehow we've reached a point in this country where exacting a pound of flesh from teachers, who can't afford it, is "good economics," but raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans by 1%, chump change essentially, is "socialism."

But the "value-added" accountability zealots seem to be winning the day, and teaching as a profession is being dismantled right before our very eyes. State legislatures seek to strip teachers unions of their collective bargaining, mass layoffs of teachers are promised daily, and newspapers continue to print the names and addresses of "failed teachers" (one wonders: why don't newspapers print the names and addresses of other professions and their "failures," such as lawyers who are disbarred? Or accountants who cook the books? Or doctors who kill patients?).

Bill Gates, who holds a degree in nothing, is even arguing for larger classes and AI kinds of robotic teaching. Seriously.

As the economy continues to improve, it becomes apparent that the Great Recession, now over almost two years, is still being used for politically-motivated cuts. None of these cuts (nor the buffoonish cuts proposed by the House recently) has anything to do with balancing budgets, fiscal austerity or smart economics.

It's all about political ideology. The attack on teachers and the decimation of public education (even the cuts in higher education) serves one, simple purpose: by cutting education, you keep the masses dumb and stupid, and you stay in power in perpetuity.

Well done.

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