Punish the poor for not being able to afford private schools. Punish the teachers for wanting the wages and pensions THEY NEGOTIATED FOR. Punish those who believe a public education should be a right and that teachers deserve to be paid as professionals. Punish the teachers again for daring to work with America's children, only THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB in this nation. Yes, you heard me. More important than being a cop. More important than being a firefighter. More important than serving in the military. More important than opening your own small business or running a large mega-corporation. More important than what I do. More important, likely, than what you do too. More important than being a principal or superintendent at those same schools. (Seriously for all the vitriol directed at teachers there is VIRTUALLY NONE directed at those two jobs mentioned above. Yet public educational systems can only work as well as the principals and superintendents allow them to. Still, it's all the teachers' fault.)
Yes, being a teacher is the most important job in America. Because it is the one job that truly keeps the American dream alive. What is that dream? It's not just getting rich. It's the dream of being able to achieve, to have the opportunity to do what you can conceive of. Of not being stepped on all your life because you happened to have the wrong parents. It's the dream that a poor kid with one white parent and one black parent can somehow, yes, become President of the United States.
Only some people don't really like that dream, no! They like to keep all the power and all the money for themselves. And they have legions of useful idiot allies among the ranks our nation's ignorant, who have been brainwashed for generations to believe that all government services are somehow wrong and suspect. That charter schools are a miracle cure. They're not. There will always, and should always, be a need for excellent, traditional classroom teaching. The answer is not to find a way to pay teachers even less, and take away their benefits, all in the name of new-religion frugality.
The answer is to pay teachers well, give them the benefits they've earned and deserve and find ways to help them educate better. One issue: how about making sure our nation's most poor actually have access to stuff like...books? (My wife is a public school teacher and taught in the South Bronx. Yes, there weren't enough books. And her principal spent school funds on new, expensive mahogany furniture for her office. Again, somehow the under-performance of this school is the teachers' fault. Shame on us all.)
Look, just pay the fucking teachers what they negotiated for and earned.
And stop the ignorant teacher bashing. How about blaming the huge, gaping holes in our national budgets on the real villains? Those on Wall Street who actively destroyed our economy with financial weapons of mass destruction? How about blaming those who abetted them from 2000-2008 by deregulating every market in sight and making the Securities and Exchange Commission even more toothless? There were no cops on the beat to watch our nation's financial markets. We were told they would never destroy themselves in the name of enlightened self interest, those banks. And they didn't. They got bailed out. We got destroyed.
How about blaming our broke, indebted economy on the people in the mirror? We couldn't save, we spent every dime we had and then borrowed more to spend more. Now we're broke, as a nation and, once more, it's the teachers' fault?
I have heard this quote in many ways, many times, but it is especially apt now. If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
We've tried it. And look where it got us. And, again, somehow this is all the fault of our teachers? Maybe we should start blaming the students too? Only not the ones in school now, they are children, but the ones who graduated and then lead lives of deliberate ignorance. You know: us.
This post was adapted from an earlier entry on my blog Brooklyn Baby Daddy.