Attacks on Public School Teachers Need to End
I came across an article on Progressive.org’s web-site by Pedro Noguera and Michelle Fine that I thought was worth passing along as it affects teachers in many ways.
The article starts by chronicling what the Republicans have been busy doing to destroy public education and to push for privatization and charters:
Republican governors across the country are taking aim at teachers, their unions and public schools in general.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has been demonizing teachers, lambasting unions, challenging tenure rights and recommending a crude teacher evaluation process.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker’s budget slashes school funding by $1.6 billion over the next two years, establishing many more charter schools (including so-called virtual charter schools, which have no buildings), and lifting the income cap for vouchers.
But, the hits to public education do NOT stop with just the Republicans. As I have written about on my blog there are deep-pocketed interests on both sides who are seeking to “reform” education, many times for different reasons.
This attack on public education has diverse roots, and comes not only from Republicans. Groups like Democrats for Education Reform have dedicated substantial resources to undermining teachers unions. The Obama administration has put its weight behind an agenda featuring charter schools, which employ mostly nonunion labor, as its centerpiece.
A disturbing bipartisan consensus is emerging: a market model for public schools that would abandon America’s historic commitment to providing education to all children as a civil right.
This model would make opportunities available largely to those motivated and able to leave local schools. It would treat parents as consumers and children as disposable commodities that can be judged by their test scores. And it would unravel collective bargaining agreements so that experienced teachers can be replaced with those who have little training, less experience and no long-term commitment to the profession.
It’s hard to think of another field in which experience is considered a liability and where those who know the least about the nuts and bolts of an enterprise are embraced as experts.
It is truly stunning to me that the Obama administration is so hopelessly clueless on this matter. I sincerely believe that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) are not doing their jobs in advocating for teachers. People like Matt Damon and Diane Ravitch have been the visible proponents for educators, not our own national unions…what is wrong here?
I have learned so much from veteran, experienced teachers, it is amazing to me that those who are experts are not viewed as the most important employees, they are viewed as too expensive. New teachers do NOT have the knowledge and teaching experience to be as effective in the classroom as veteran teachers, this is true from all of my experiences in schools where I have witnessed this phenomena.
The market model for education fails to address the inequality and opportunity gaps that plague our schools. It is not an adequate solution; it is a diversion.
Fortunately, teachers and their allies are fighting back. We can begin to feel the rumble of solidarity, with parents, teachers, labor and youth demanding what is rightfully theirs — public schools and democratic public education.
Students are not widgets, nor are they commodities so they should not be treated as such. Public Education is NOT a market, it is about teaching little human beings to learn and to grow into productive members of society.