It probably comes as no surprise that I support the Chicago school teachers as they fight for a working contract which would allow them to feel as if they are not being taken advantage of while on the job. Union workers need our support no matter where they are located, or what they do for a living.
While the concerns of those who teach is not new to me, over the past 12 years they have been heightened as my partner is a professor, and these matters generate lots of conversation.
There is a general disdain for teachers among a rather large segment of the population. Too often the level of nastiness rises far beyond that which most other professions get tarred with.
Primary and secondary education teachers often get labeled as thieves, taking property tax dollars ‘they did not earn’ while on summer vacation. Professors in college get charged with liberal indoctrination.
Both arguments are specious and need to be jettisoned from the playbook of those who harbor resentment against the teaching profession.
When working with a state representative from northeast Wisconsin I found myself attending a variety of school board meetings where the issue of property taxes was the central concern. I witnessed loud and often caustic attendees crying out for tax relief with the most jangled syntax and poor grammar imaginable.
Clearly there was a need for education dollars to be spent, but it should never come from the pockets of those who placed themselves above the need for schools.
I sat (by the grace of God) stone-faced at one such meeting, and never even let a hint of ‘you have to be kidding me’ cross my face as an over-stuffed man wearing coveralls stood and lamented the need for a dumb-waiter in one of the school cafeterias.
“With all the money we spend we should have been able to find a smart waiter.”
He was being literal, and had no idea what he was talking about. He even elaborated on his point, digging the hole deeper.
He was against schools, teachers, and resented having to pay for any education programs.
Those type of attitudes from parents shapes kid’s perceptions of teachers while at home. Those students then attend classes and feel it is their right to also show a lack of respect for teachers.
It is a cycle that is hard to break, but one that continues to be deeply engrained across the nation.
Too many parents who complain about the cost of education have no regard for the kids they raise, and the many issues they plop down in the classroom. Children show up hungry in the morning, tell of having no place to study at night, and it is very obvious that parent supervision for many kids is absent.
Yet it is the teachers who gets the social slap if unable to teach a student to perform at some standard set by politicians! Never mind the poverty that hinders far too many of our citizens, or the inadequate parenting skills that exist for too many breeders.
Many problems exist when it comes to Chicago teachers and their aging schools. Graduation rates are dismal, and prior to this year the school day in Chicago was just over 5 hours long. How these problems have festered for so long is a legitimate question to ask. Being angry that these matters have not already been solved, or attempted to be solved is only a natural reaction.
(As stated on this blog I applaud Chicago Mayor Emanuel for expanding the school day. He now just needs to make sure teachers are treated fairly in the process.)
Cleary there needs more attention to one of the most important functions of our society, that being the education of our young.
But to hang all the problems with our education system on the backs of teachers, or the teacher’s union is absurd.
That argument is outdated, and can only be viewed now as a caricature to be piled on others that once were thought to be the answers to our education problems.