It would be one thing if Gov. Chris Christie’s latest statement that the teachers’ union “deserved a punch in the face,” was some lone comment by one irate individual. But the sad fact is there are more Christies out there! The friction between Christie and the teachers’ union runs deep, but don’t forget the other noteworthy bullying teachers have had to endure.
Remember Rod Paige, President G. W. Bush’s first education secretary? He compared the teachers union to terrorists not long after 9-11! How can someone placed in a position to oversee, and nurture teachers in America hate teachers?
And then there was Dr. Reid Lyon a research psychologist who advised President George W. Bush about education and who was one of the architects of Reading First (look it up if you get a chance). At a 2002 forum sponsored by the Council for Excellence in Government, Reid said if he could pass any piece of legislation, it would be “to blow up colleges of education.”
Reid went to work with an online teacher education program called the American College of Education. Rod Paige is one of the trustees. Think about that.
There are many more of these teacher bullies on a national, state and even the local level.
Most of this bullying is directed at the teachers’ union. But the problems many see, with both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), are that they are too amenable to those corporate ideas that will go far to dismantle public schools and the teaching profession. They have embraced Common Core State Standards for example.
I liken both the AFT and the NEA at the national level, to children at school who, too often, hand over their lunches to the bullies. This is not, however, the case for many state and local teachers unions who fight hard for policies that will be in the best interest of children. The Tennessee Education Association and their fine push back on value-added measurement is one example.
Even perhaps more underhanded and ugly, are the subtle bullying messages that have been allowed to permeate the country, that teachers are second class citizens. This “teachers fail” mantra has brought us some ridiculous reforms. Here’s a sample of just a few:
- Teach for America. Why would anyone believe that five weeks of training makes a teacher? More money has been poured into this group than is imaginable. Here is a list of the many donors.
- Relay Graduate School. Along the lines of TFA and the Teaching Fellows programs, we now have teacher education programs posing to take over teacher education in our universities, not to mention state credentialing, that are primarily online fast-track preparation programs.
- American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE). This is a fast way to become a teacher (if you can call it that) by going online. If you hurry, it will only cost you $1950 this week…a discount.
- Charter schools. Charters were originally supposed to be for teachers to run—to demonstrate their professionalism. The concept was hijacked by those who want to privatize public schools.
- National Council of Teacher Quality. An outside group that poses like an inside group made up of a lot of “not really educators” mixed in with a few that are, to judge and push forward the privatization of teacher education. They want a new kind of teacher—their kind! Just look at the advisory board which includes Wendy Kopp (never a teacher), founder of Teach for America, and Michael Feinberg (from TFA) co-founder of KIPP charters.
- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Teacher Effectiveness Training. Saying there is a need for teacher effectiveness training, implies teachers aren’t effective. Improvements could and should always be applied to teacher education. But teachers were never failing so badly they needed corporations to save them.
- Common Core State Standards. These standards are scripted and teachers had little involvement with their creation. We need a variety of teaching approaches made by well-prepared teachers who understand the developmental, social and psychological needs of children.***
- Teacher Earbuds. Read *I am Not Tom Brady* by Amy Berard posted on the Edushyster blog. Teachers wear earbuds as someone directs them how to respond to students from the back of the room. That one would consider teachers to be so ineffective that they need a robotic takeover speaks volumes.
- The Education Trust. A nonprofit group touting school equity for children in their schools by being “data driven.” Whenever the words data driven appear there is the idea that teaching in the past has been flimsy with little evidence of success. This is not the case but this group has for years deceptively reshaped what it means to be a teacher.
There are so many groups and instances of individuals who have intentionally struck at the heart of our democratic public education system—the heart being, of course, its teachers. I’m sure that you can think of your favorite teacher slamming group or experience. Feel free to share them if you would like.
So today as many teachers return to the classroom, preparing for a new school year and facing down bullies, just remember. The most important person next to the parent in a child’s life is YOU. No matter what the tyrants say, you are the protector of what a child learns and how they will face the world. Don’t let bullies take that away from you. Don’t let them warp your teacher professionalism.
Close the classroom door and TEACH! Find those groups and organizations that support you as a professional and try as hard as you can to ignore the bullies.
Work closely with parents, they are your allies!
And last, the definition of a bully is a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. Teachers are not weak. They are strong. Don’t forget it!
For my teacher friends…HERE. Have a great year!