For years, there have been conservative writers to The Sun who do not like teachers or professors and blame all the problems in American education on the people who deliver the “final product.” Many just do not like paying taxes for education but see teachers as greedy and self-serving!
This is not surprising. As the bottom link of the “chain of command” in education, teachers make easy targets for conservative writers and politicians. This actually began during the Reagan administration when there was a popular slogan, “those who can do and those who can’t teach.” It was also during that time that one of the first books about the growing crisis in American education came out with the title: Why Can’t Johnny Read?
This writer always thought it was a good question. But what are the real reasons Johnny cannot read? Of course, the first ones that people want to blame are Johnny’s teachers and perhaps one or more of his teacher are incompetent — but that does not make the majority of teachers incompetent. What about the administrators at Johnny’s school? What about the person who developed Johnny’s curriculum? Was it a school where athletics were so important that teachers let Johnny slide under pressure from coaches and principles? What about the school board, who, under pressure from taxpayers, cut funding for remedial reading programs?
Or, God forbid, could it be Johnny’s parents? Do they value education or teach their kids that ignorance is as good as the teacher’s knowledge? Did they have books at home and read to Johnny when he was little. Did they raise Johnny thinking their son could do no wrong and threaten to sue the school if the school thinks otherwise? Or, could Johnny himself just be a bit lazy and entitled?
Were Johnny’s mom and dad also the type of parents who whined and complained whenever they did not agree with the curriculum or with some subject like rational, comprehensive sex education? Did they have to be ejected from a school board meeting because Johnny really WAS reading but mom and dad objected to the books he was reading?
But it is more fun and much easier to blame it all on the teacher. Writers to The Sun have condemned teachers’ unions and accused teachers of not caring about the students. That is a blatant lie. Most teachers do care about their students and their success. The reason teachers have become unionized is that it was the only way to ensure fair treatment. For the degree of education teachers have as well as the extra responsibilities they take on, they are among the lowest paid of the profession. If it weren’t for teachers’ unions, they might not get anything close to fair compensation. And, their jobs would be at the mercy of a principal who might be under pressure to give the job to a relative.
At the college level, professors are under real assault by conservatives if conservatives do not agree with the professor’s politics. They whine about “tenured academic radicals” and want them fired (while saying nothing about tenured academics.)
Actually, If they bothered to read up on the subject, full-time positions, let alone tenured ones, are becoming rarer and rarer as college administrators replace full-time faculty with adjuncts, some of whom actually qualify for food stamps. The pay hikes are going to administrators (although there are a few cases where college football coaches make more than the college president!).
This all is part of an agenda: many of these same conservatives want to defund public education to the point where it cannot do anything but fail so they can privatize even though public education has made our country great. Our current secretary of education is one of these conservatives.
(Scott Cracraft is a citizen, a taxpayer, a veteran and resides in Gilford)
- Written by Edward Engler
- Category: Letters
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