I'm not really upset by the Natalie Munroe case - I still think she's somewhat unfairly being singled out, probably just because her school district is a wealthier one, and her ugly blog comments about students got circulated on Facebook sparking a nationwide debate. But the whole situation coupled with the teacher sick-out protests (including bringing students with them) in Madison, WI, seasoned with the verbal abuse I've personally experienced any time I've suggested that teachers might be able to improve their own performance and *might* be playing a role in poor learning outcomes and drop-out rates, makes me think that the real lesson of these current events isn't that bad teachers are bringing everyone down, as bad teachers have always been with us, or that teachers are worse than ever. It's that the bad apples are threatening to spoil the whole bunch more than ever before. I don't know of a time when a number of vocal teachers are comfortable with the following:
- Verbally abusing those they oppose in semi-literate terms (from Natalie Munroe misspelling her trash-talk about students to the "Hilter" posters in Wisconsin) with no self consciousness whatsoever.
- Active, rage-filled resistance to any type of reform or deviation from the "system" - from vouchers to home-schooling to charter schools to merit pay for good teachers. Auto-tenure or use of part-time teachers to maintain high salary and benefits of full-time teachers who entered in more financially stable times aren't even discussable in most areas.
- Happy to use online forums to trash talk students, parents and anyone else they dislike.
- Seeing no contradiction in telling the public as loudly as possible that getting raises or spending more money in general is the only way that kids will learn in their classroom.
- Having no dismay whatsoever at the terrible things that happen in some classrooms - teachers who sexually abuse students, teachers who harm students physically and mentally, teachers who are openly discriminatory, teachers who use their position of dominance to get students to do any number of non-classroom related things, such as running personal errands, doing chores at home, etc.
- Enlisting students to help in their own union campaigns or demonstrations, or - as occurs in Los Angeles, any protest the individual teacher wants to recruit warm bodies for - i.e. the "Undocumented Immigrant" protests of the past 3-4 years. The last 2 years, almost 100% of the "protesters" were students let out of area high school and middle schools for the day and given t-shirts and posters.
Physician, heal thyself. It seems as though a lot of people in the 35+ age range in the teaching profession are addicted to the deterioration in priorities and basic job skills that has occurred in . . . gosh, I don't know. I'm willing to guess that as soon as it became socially acceptable for teachers to ungrammatically bag on their students in public, there had probably been a 15-20 year period of downhill classroom and teaching esprit d'corps.
I'm pretty sure that foul-mouthed "advocates" would tell me that this was all George Bush's fault. Him and "Hilter." (I was totally searching for the "Hilter" poster but couldn't find it).
On their own, I'm not seeing angry teachers demanding higher salaries and more more more deciding to enter recovery and change their job priorities from "being a Teacher's Union member" to being a teacher.
This type of teacher isn't the majority. I'm pretty sure that about 87% of teachers are silently gritting their teeth and looking the other way, while continuing to do their jobs day-in and day-out.
And that's what's so sad. This whole thing doesn't just feel like a slap in the face to me - big dummy putting up with part-time teacher slave conditions and wages and no benefits - it really hurts me to think that these loud-mouthed, abusive protesters who see no problem with "sickouts" (newsflash: you take a sick day and still get paid, it's not exactly a "strike" showing solidarity) and bringing their students along as stooges - are what's "representing" the great teachers of today and the past.
I'm the one who wrote the book about John Dewey. "Founder of American Liberalism." If Mr. Dewey read Natalie Munroe's blog comments, and learned that teachers were totally abdicating teaching in favor of taking their students out of the classroom to protest along with them for higher salaries, I'm going to go out on a limb and say he would not approve. It was one thing to be "Liberal" in a day when there was nothing for people who didn't already have something. Today, everybody has something. And what's going on in Natalie Munroe's classroom and the classrooms of others like her, and in these angry, semi-literate protests using students as troops - that's not "liberalism." It's selfishness. And it's the last-ditch effort of total losers who want something for nothing.
Hey - the students in Central Bucks East Schools are protesting today!!!! Go kids, go! "Students of Central Bucks East are planning a rally today in the school parking lot to show the world they are not the whipping boys and girls for what's wrong with education today." Let's see. Today is Sunday of President's Day Weekend. Guess what? Those students chose to do this on their own time . . . not during school time. I wonder if any teachers will go to support them. I hope so.