Teachers Aren’t to Blame

Thanks again, Paper Graders, for a fabulous find, this article from a journalist not far up the road from me in Flint, arguing that maybe the teacher-bashing rhetoric of our political machine could probably be pointed in other directions (say, at said political machine).

Heller (click here to read his piece) argues that on the one hand, we acknowledge the importance of teaching as an essential and noble profession in our society, but on the other hand, (sorry for the lengthy quote, but I couldn’t decide what to cut out):

All you hear these days – particularly from politicians who know an easy target when they see one — is how teachers are paid too much, do too little, aren’t smart enough and need more training.

And that’s when people are being nice. The worst among us lump them all in one boat and call them lazy, greedy louts who are draining the public coffers dry at a time when we can least afford it, all while getting the summers off. How dare they!

Then a week later a new study will come out saying kids in China, Japan or Botswana are miles ahead of American kids, and we cry, “Fix that! … oh, but do it for less money with more students in increasingly substandard buildings, all while we yell at you and test you to make sure you’re up to snuff.”

That’s nuts. And hypocritical. You can’t say teachers are vital then turn around and cut their salaries and benefits. Just can’t do it.

It is nuts. It is hypocritical. The binary (saint/devil) keeps the general public from understanding, seeing, or needing to acknowledge the complexity that is teaching. This is a binary I have analyzed, argued against, and now conduct research on in an attempt to combat, and it’s good to hear others argue that the binary makes absolutely zero sense. How can we acknowledge the importance of teachers and at the same time continue poking holes in every aspect of their profession?

Thanks to Heller, and TPG, for the link and the reminder that just because politicians are attacking an “easy target” doesn’t mean everyone takes what they say at face value.