Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

A News Item That Makes My Eye Twitch, Part #1

[Being a new semi-regular feature of the blog, wherein your humble correspondent deals briefly with a current event which would otherwise cause him to go out in the street and throw stuff, if he didn’t have said blog.]


This week, South Carolina state senator Tom Davis posted a link on his Facebook page to an article entitled “Liberal Union Attacking School Choice in SC”. The article’s summary said this:

“SC School Board Association fighting school-choice program for ‘exceptional needs’ students. Both R’s and D’s acknowledge this program — available to kids with Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Asperger’s, Autism, etc. — delivers better results at a lower cost, but ‘professional educators’ don’t like losing control, so they oppose it. They should be ashamed.”

And one of the comments posted below the link said this:

“I educate my children all day every day. A piece of paper doesn’t make them [teachers, referred to sarcastically in the original post as “’professional educators’”] any more knowledgeable about my own children than I am. *I* know what’s best for my children.”

Hm. I’m about to take that quote slightly out of its original special education context (I think it’s fair game, since the commenter didn’t specifically indicate that she was dealing with special-ed students either) and apply it to the larger world. Because as much as the actual article dealt with specific special-ed programs and such … the comment strikes me as emblematic of a larger issue.

I might be addressing lots of folks here, from home-school advocates to teacher-bashers to budget-setters and beyond. Not to get petty, but do you know what that “piece of paper” connotes? Competence.

And an investment in learning the skills and strategies and philosophies of education. Teaching, when it’s done well – which is a hell of a lot more than these education reform jockeys would like you to believe, and often under more daunting conditions than these for-profit charter school pushers will ever, ever see in their whole teaching (or, more likely, administrative) lives – is more than a gig. It can be a vocation … a calling.

The middle sentence of that last paragraph was a ferocious run-on sentence. I can hear my English teachers gettin’ after me for that one. Hard to follow. Takes extra work to dissect. Readers will bail out. Know how I know? Because my teachers taught me that.

That “piece of paper” also connotes the ability to educate more than one student at a time. Because there are more students out there in the world than just yours, and they all have the right to a complete education. And there may actually be things in the world that are worth knowing that they may never learn about, either through presenters’ ignorance or willful omission. Please note the recent dogged interest, in some parts, in cleansing the AP US History curriculum of any mention of when this great nation of ours screwed up. Must emphasize blind patriotism over, say, taking lessons from our imperfect history.

And do you know what “[teachers] don’t like losing control” really means? It means teachers don’t appreciate their competence and investment and effort and passion increasingly becoming the snark target of certain highly moneyed people and groups, who also (more importantly) gleefully influence education policy, even though they may not have been in a classroom since they themselves were in school. “I think I know all about education because I went to school once.”

Irony alert: if you can put out a press release about those evil teachers that contains proper spelling and grammar and sentence structure … thank a teacher.

Twitch. Twitch twitch twitch.


March 14, 2015 - Posted by | education, teachers | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. As I am about to embark on a week’s worth of administering the PARCC exam, I must say…Amen to that.

    And, as a little addendum, teachers also don’t so much appreciate when said groups’ thinly-veiled motivation is to discredit public school teachers using extremely flawed measures for the sole purpose of privatizing education in order to derive profit from a previously unreachable market, instead of for the benefit of students. (I’m not talking about any one measure in particular, to be clear.)

    Comment by Kristin | March 14, 2015 | Reply

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