Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. -- Matthew 7:15 (KJV)In my almost half-century in the field of education I can remember more than a few horrible teachers. But I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of administrators, board members and politicians who were also, at some point in their lives, good teachers.
Teachers are almost, in general, a different species from those who settle into the more competitive, avaricious and self-regarding occupations and professions. Not that teachers don’t know how to compete and pursue their own self-interests. I think, however, they are less inclined, unless pushed to the wall, to do so.
In 1972 I served as an assistant strike captain in an AFT action against the School District of Philadelphia. We ringed a school building to block traffic in and out. The teachers – most of them -- hated this. Being directly confrontational was something that went against their grain. What happened in fact was that anyone who wanted to enter could just ask to get by. So long as we thought their action was not “strike-breaking” we let them in. The administrators in our building brought us out coffee and doughnuts – they believed that it was a recalcitrant superintendent and board that provoked the strike.
The teachers even permitted one of their own, a very religious man who claimed that in good conscience he could not disobey civil authority, to enter and leave the building everyday unmolested. He gained this privilege with the promise that any money he earned during the strike would be given to charity.
But the public schools, in general, are run by wheelers and dealers, showpeople and clowns. They don’t care if Jimmy crack corn when it comes to what really nurtures the relationships between kids and adults. It ain’t spendin' the school day preppin' for standardized tests, or firin' teachers reluctant to do it.
Parents know this. This is why in Washington, D.C. they voted against a mayor who supported the efforts of Michelle Rhee to “reform” the schools.
To examine these issues further, see Teacher Accountability And The Pathology Of Domination
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