Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Teacher Bashing Is At A New High Thanks To The Politicians And The News Media
It seems like whatever the problem the nation's schools experience both the politicians and the news media seem to think it is the teacher's fault. The teachers are now the scapegoats in what is wrong with the education system. For example when President Obama unwisely agreed with the Central Falls School Board to fire all the high school teachers despite the heroic efforts many of them made with a challenging student population and starved for educational services.
No longer do the politicians and the media blame poor parenting skills, ridiculous rules concerning student discipline, incompetent administrators, poverty, or the students themselves. To them it is the teacher's fault. Notice how these so-called education forums and think tanks rarely have practicing teachers on them and classroom teacher input is almost non-existent. If a student is failing, everybody blames the teacher. It doesn't matter that the child may have learning difficulties, be a non-English speaker, or are academically behind due to attendance or health issues. Regardless, the fault is put on the teacher's lap.
Nationwide, teachers are under attack as politicians and their media allies demand wage freezes, paying increased health benefit premiums, tenure changes, and even rolling back pensions. In New Jersey, Governor Cristie has demanded wage freezes of teachers as a condition for getting State funds. No other group was targeted by the Governor but teachers. While in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has threatened to layoff 4,400 teachers if the State does not come through with additional funds. Further, the Mayor has failed to negotiate the "city pattern" with the teachers union and has demanded that the layoffs do not follow the State Civil Service requirements based upon seniority.
Disrespect for teachers ranges from the President, Barack Obama to the Chancellor, Joel Klein. However, the greatest disrespect for teachers are found in our local newspapers, the New York Daily News and the New York Post who operate as a propaganda mouthpiece for Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein. Their editorials blaming the teachers or the unions reminds me of Pravda during the days of the Soviet Union. Even the New York Times print some articles that can be considered anti-teacher. Only Newsday seems to give a balanced prospective on education issues. This media disrespect has made teaching in the classroom an increasingly hostile environment and has resulted in a "blame the teacher society".
The only way to put an end to the continued assaults on teachers is to mount a well focused attack on politicians and the anti-teacher news media that support them. Giving in is not the answer. The union must dig in their heels and yell "not one step back" if we are to earn respect as a profession. No more sellouts, no more "givebacks" and more importantly let's get back our self respect and that is what our union should be doing.