Some people have been confused by the extent of my love for Brian Williams. Witness:
Did you make it to four minutes in? Because that's really the best part.
Obviously though, I have some serious feelings regarding the "budget repair" efforts of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Namely that he's an opportunist who is falsely using the budget shortfall as an excuse to gut the rights of public workers in Wisconsin.
There's a lot of public outcry about how public education is broken and most of the blame for that lands on teachers. You know how you don't get better teachers? By paying them less and stripping them of their ability to collectively bargain. But unions protect bad teachers! How common are the bad teachers though? And what are the real problems facing our schools? Maybe we could all listen to someone who did actual research on the topic:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
Slate did a whole series on redesigning American classrooms with ideas including ergonomic furniture, technological upgrades, outdoor spaces, and lots of other expensive and often impractical ideas. The tone of at least one piece in the series was that schools stubbornly refuse to spend money on these things that we all know would improve education. Then they did research around the world and discovered that the best and most effective classrooms had exactly one thing in common. Not furniture or technology or other gimmacks. The most effective classrooms in the world had the best teachers. Period.
And sure, to some extent, teachers are suckers. We chose a profession with a limited earning potential. Most of us can't imagine doing anything else. But teachers also have to support themselves and their families. We can go to states where the pay and benefits are better. We can leave school systems that cut funding to the extent that we're looking at classes of forty kids. Or we can leave the profession all together. We'd hate to abandon the kids, but everyone has his or her breaking point.
I get that states have hard choices to make right now, but they need to consider the future beyond right now as well. If they want to be competitive in the future, they need to remember that when it comes to education, to a large extent, they get what they pay for. And who will get the blame when education gets worse as budgets get cut? I have a sneaking suspicion that it won't be Republican legislators.
We may seem like gluttons for punishment to those of you who can't fathom spending all day with kids, but we don't actually like being your whipping boy. Enough is enough.
I hope those of you who live in Wisconsin will stand up for public education. Whether you have kids going to public schools or not, you benefit from living in a state with a good education system. I hope you value it enough to speak up for it. And if not for the teachers, for the people who plow your roads, who keep you safe from prisoners, who do lots of other things you take for granted. When the rights of one group are taken away, we all live in a less free society.
Disclosure: This post does not advocate for my own personal interests. I currently teach in a non-public school, meaning I cannot be part of a union. This has made no impact on my belief that public school teachers should have union protection and collective bargaining rights.