Teachers on the Defensive

Randi Weingarten, the powerful president of the American Federation of Teachers, took a rare vacation last week, but tweeting knows no holidays, nor does frustration with what can sometimes seem like constant assaults on the men and women at nation’s blackboards. So her Twitter account remained active, and on Wednesday it took on a soon-to-open Hollywood movie, “Won’t Back Down”. In one tweet she expressed her wish that it “didn’t vilify teachers as so uncaring.” In another she noted that the main financing for the movie came from a school-privatization advocate who is no fan of teachers’ unions. “Won’t Back Down” tells David-versus-Goliath story of single mother, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who leads a rebellion to wrest control of her daughter’s persistently abysmal public elementary school from local officials. It’s scheduled for release next month, although it was shown to Weingarten a few weeks ago. I saw it on Wednesday. And it actually takes pains to portray teachers as impassioned do-gooders who are as exasperated as parents are by education system’s failures, and by uncaring colleagues in their midst. But I understand Weingarten’s upset. Union that represents one of those do-gooders (Viola Davis) has lost its way, resisting change, resorting to smear tactics, alienating the idealists in its ranks. What’s more, some of the people who are assertively promoting “Won’t Back Down” are those who cast teachers’ unions as a titanic impediment to the improvement of public education. So “Won’t Back Down” is emerging as the latest front in the continuing war between those unions and their legions of critics, and it has become yet another example of how negatively those unions are viewed. “When did Norma Rae get to be the bad guy?” asks a union leader (Holly Hunter) in the movie. I don’t know, but that’s indeed state of play when it comes to teachers’ unions, and it’s a dangerous one. Nothing, nothing, is more important than education of our children, while various interests will make competing claims about whether it’s improving or slipping and how best to measure that, education certainly isn’t at the level we want or need it to be. Public education, that is. All around me I see parents of means going the private route and dipping as far into their bank accounts as necessary to purchase every last advantage a kid can have. But most families don’t have that option, and some 90% of children go to public schools, which remain our best engine for social mobility, our best bet for global competitiveness and key to our country’s future. And lately, they’ve been a dispirited and dispiriting battleground (…..)

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/bruni-teachers-on-the-defensive.html


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

One Response to Teachers on the Defensive

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of LA makes a debatable statement about teacher’s union power and politicians. The mayor is quoted as saying ” the notion that seniority drives every decision — assignments, promotions, layoffs — is unsustainable.He explained that it took performance out of the equation and was discordant with the experience of most other professionals. ” No doubt, most readers will certainly agree with the LA mayor, particularly the teacher’s performance question. Mr. Villaraigosa is in trouble when he moves into his own territory i.e., professional politicians. According to him ” Imagine if I ran for a third term and said, ‘Vote for me, I’ve been here the longest”. If PERFORMANCE was the yardstick to evaluate professional politicians, half of the US Congress and Senate would not be there. Most members have been reelected over and over again because they DELIVER to their core constituency i.e., the rich and powerful (1%) with a deep, deep pocket. If US politicians were the best in the world, the US economy would not be in decline and Americans would continue to be the most prosperous and happy people on earth.

    Here is my take: Unions became a favorite target for ambitious politicians because the political system is in deep trouble.

    The problem is not with the Unions, it can be fixed. However, how can Americans fix their broken political system in the 21st century? can it be done by peaceful means?



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