Get ready teachers! The country is priming for that once a year period where you are venerated by America for the work that you do—for all the children you just finished testing the heck out of—through little fault of your own.
It’s Teacher Appreciation Week!
Want to see how so-called leaders and the media are going to warm the cockles of the country’s hearts for teachers? Just look at how on May 1 (a day to remember labor) a Bloomberg News article begins:
“U.S. schools don’t have enough great teachers. There are various reasons for that, chief among them tenure protections that prevent principals from cutting loose low performers and union contracts that require the worst teachers to be paid the same as the best.”
They go on to discuss ed. leader Arne Duncan’s quest to improve Teacher Ed. Schools. I already wrote about this fiasco. See here.
They couldn’t even give poor bedraggled teachers the month of May could they? And right after weeks of hellish test prep and testing…where teachers were torn between strict administrators who threatened students with the “sit and stare” option if they refused the test, and the opt out parents who will stare down the administrators in the end.
I know there are some who are angry at teachers for not standing up against the draconian reforms happening in schools. Some teachers do go above and beyond to cheer such reforms like Common Core et cetera. They are terribly misguided or afraid.
But many teachers, quite frankly, need or want their jobs…. The good teachers know exactly what’s happening with high-stakes testing and it tears them apart. Read this to see what I mean! They get criticized by both sides as they try to feed their families and cling to any semblance of a profession. But worst of all, they see what is happening to their students! They are forced to do as they are told, yet, they put up with attacks from all around.
Why it isn’t even about unions anymore!
Brookings Institute and Harvard’s poly sci. guy, and author of a zillion books on how to get rid of schools as we know them, Paul Peterson’s new book is entitled Teachers versus The Public. Peterson bypasses the unions and goes straight for the jugular—it’s the teachers who are the bottlenecks…those lovers of the status quo! They stand in the way of merit pay, vouchers, and charter schools. He claims the public wants all those things, including annual testing. But those meanie teachers are just standing in the way.
Well teachers are standing in the way, if you listen to Bill Moyers, who understands that teachers are really protecting public schools from a corporate takeover! They are saving the institution for the public. They are…dare I say…HEROS!
But also, and most important, the parents I know are not interested in Peterson’s goals. Does he know about the many parents who do not want high-stakes testing? Maybe he should sit down with some activist moms from Tennessee, Colorado and Florida for starters…. Or how about New York! Almost every state I know of has anti-reform groups starting up. Many are against Common Core.
Maybe he should have read all the Tweets trying to stop voucher Bill SB 1512 in Florida. Parents there are tougher than nails and understand more about what public schools should be like than Peterson and all the others will ever know. The Bill? The Florida Senate snuck it by using a “surprise maneuver” with complete disregard of the parents and educators who know how harmful vouchers are.
But if Peterson’s book, or other insidious reforms, don’t persuade you to hate teachers on the week in their honor, all you have to do is tune in to Bad Teacher on CBS. It’s a remake of that Academy Award winning movie Bad Teacher. No? Thankfully, the word is that it will be ultimately cancelled.
No wonder teachers are elated that comedian Louis C.K. tweeted some school criticisms and spoke out reasonably on Letterman and Diane Sawyer about schools. It was a perk in an otherwise dismal week of teacher bashing. I say bring on the celebrities! Keep speaking out, Matt Damon! If the public listens to them, educators and parents are a step ahead of the game.
Last, let me address Teacher of the Year. I have never liked this honor-of-one who rises above all the others like a Phoenix (I hope they don’t take classes there), since years ago, while teaching in Florida, I watched the finalists promenade on stage like they were in the Miss America Contest. Each teacher would approach the microphone and tell about their accomplishments—trying to sell themselves to the judges. It seemed terribly unprofessional.
There is also something unsettling to me watching President Obama honoring a 30 year old superstar who gets all his students college ready. Were they students with disabilities? English Language Learners perhaps? This is also the same President who just came out claiming teacher ed. schools are failing.
I am not picking on this individual teacher. He is most likely well-deserving of his award—like a million other teachers who don’t get an award! That is the problem with Teacher of the Year.
In closing, about Teacher Appreciation Week…I recommend, for what it is worth, discontinuing the Teacher of Year Award, because teaching conditions and treatment should be a good enough reward for all professionals. The real awards should always be intrinsic—the students and their progress.
And, sure, have an end of the school year celebratory party for teachers by and with the parents and the students! Because teachers are strong, they are professional, they care for and teach your child, and they are just that great!
To all you teachers out there…THANK YOU, ignore the critics who know nothing about what you do, and have a great week and a safe summer!