I read Charles Maldonado’s piece about unions in the City Paper this morning and I’ve been thinking all day about his wife waking up to the fact that, as a teacher, she’s The Evil that Must Be Dealt With of the moment.
Jenny’s very basic problem, as I took it, was that she stopped believing that people were grateful to teachers, and beyond that were mindful of their interests, or at the very least weren’t particularly interested in demoralizing and terrorizing them more than what’s normal. That isn’t saying that she didn’t know, intellectually, that there were a lot of anti-teacher politicians, even a lot of moral human beings who must have been the ones who voted for them.
But something shifted that night, and on a gut level she got that she was the momentary It, the thing that would be railroaded and marginalized for the sake of some ultimately low-rent gain, another bad deal made by our state government. In this case, it was easier school board negotiations — for the school boards — and another few years of guaranteed travel per diems and black-tie fundraising dinners for the most vitriolic members of the legislature. More importantly, though, she got that a lot of humans were buying into this, and so now there wasn’t much anyone could do.
The whole thing is good, but that’s the part that’s stuck with me–that it is true that, in the end, teachers will be villified and further disempowered and all that will come of it is that your kids’ teachers will be further demoralized and a lot of GOPers have a line to put on their campaign materials.
You’d think there’d be easier, less destructive ways not only of reforming education, but of getting those campaign words, than turning on teachers.
But I guess not.
When we’re struggling to fill teaching positions in the coming years, remember that people are happy to be low-paid and respected or well-paid and loathed, but they tend to shy away from careers in which they are low-paid and loathed.