Monday, October 04, 2010

Tired, Tired, Tired

Perhaps, while I still have it, I should start wielding some of the tremendous power I apparently exude upon this planet. As a member of a teacher's union, I have been getting away with murder and other heinous crimes for decades now, and all I have to show for it is ten hour days and a list of things to do that keeps me coming back for more. That and an unquenchable thirst to underperform while sending all my union dues away to a vault somewhere to help the next liberal candidate look the other way while I conduct my nefarious business.
Okay. Maybe I got a little carried away there, but it is my reaction to the teacher bashing that is currently all the rage in our media. I am by no means an apologist for public education or teacher's unions. I can smell the stink from where I'm sitting. By contrast, I can also see the beauty and wonder of the kids who show up at our school on the first day without letters or numbers and go home with their heads full of a whole new world. Public education is just that: it is for the public. We tend to reflect the community in which we work. When we have motivated students and families coming in the door, our job is much easier. When we don't, we don't have the option of turning them away, or offering them a spot in next year's lottery.
We work with what we are given, and though much has been made about the increase in per-student spending over the past few years, no one would suggest that education is our nation's top priority. Not with a straight face, anyway. The crisis that film makers and talk show hosts are finding their way to currently has existed for decades. That's why we had movies like "Blackboard Jungle" and "Dangerous Minds." There's just got to be a way to get through to these kids. For a couple hours at least. Then we slide back into our preoccupation with the effects of a world that has lost its center. If our children really are the hope, why don't we see any change? Are there terrible teachers and principals going to work this morning? You bet there are. Just like there are terrible real estate agents and baristas. And talk show hosts. And politicians. "Throw the bums out!" is the message that currently gets all the sound bites, and association with any of those bums even by profession is enough to start ugly generalizations. That's why teachers formed unions way back when. Like any bureaucracy, things have certainly swelled beyond their original intent, not unlike the job that teachers have been asked to do. Is a house cleaning necessary? Sure, but don't blow up the house, and don't wait for Superman to come and clean it.

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