Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Teacher's Answer

I still find myself steamed at these education reformers who believe that education can be reformed by a rap on your knuckles with a ruler from some ivory tower or elected position, rather than from engaging teachers in discussions about what works to teach students and what fails to teach them. There is enough rhetoric about what needs to be done to teachers once they are finished with that ruler to fill an iPod. Merit pay, stricter accountability, abolishing tenure, unsustainable pilot programs, and the list goes on.

Tonight John McCain said, in a tone that suggested he thought it was a brand-new idea, that when he is president finally “teachers will answer to parents and students.”

Uh…Roger that John, except for the part where you think teachers don’t answer to parents and students. And except for the part where you listed parents before students. Teachers do answer to students and parents John, in that order. We always have. It’s why we got into this gig. We love our subject matter, we have a talent for teaching, and we picked an age level that dove tails with our talent.

All of you, John McCain included, can get over yourselves falling over each other to see who can insult teachers and our unions first and best.

Let me get this right, Sarah Palin can refer to her husband as a proud member of the Steelworkers, but I should somehow be ashamed to be a member of the American Federation of Teachers or the National Education Association?

And another thing, in the last 30 years you have been responsible for writing some of the most neglected education law in our country. In the last 30 years you have been responsible for under funding some of the most promising education laws in our country. Yet, somehow, teachers are the problem of the last 30 years of education? Say more about that…

We are teaching the children and young adults in our community. With the talent and care we bring to our jobs. With the resources we have. And with the determination to leave this world better than the way we found it. And we are represented by a union. So you can stop treating us like we’ve somehow gamed our way onto your 6-figure, platinum health care senate gravy train, John.

I believe in our members so strongly that I left the classroom I love to work for a better profession for all of us. Because the teachers, educational assistants, and school & community service professionals who believe in our work are also workers who deserve rights. Therefore, I will not apologize for working for more affordable health care. I will not apologize for wanting my members to be able to own a home in our community. I will not apologize for providing due process to members to inoculate them from unfair, vindictive, or bullying bosses. So help me God.

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