11 Wednesday Feb 2015
The buzz about town is that UTLA might strike and I have been asked at least a dozen times what I think about it.
I think these teachers should have struck (“striked”?) years ago. Years and years and years ago.
That’s an answer given as a citizen, an adult, a thinker, a community member, a neighbor. It’s not an answer given as a parent, and one of an incipient college applicatee no less. I’m as worried as the next about the impact on my own child, on her learning, on my family and home life and all the rest of it.
But from the point of view of what I want for my child when I send her off to school, there just isn’t any question. There is no one at all anywhere who wants their child to be warehoused in a “classroom” of fifty kids. That isn’t a classroom of learning, that’s a storage facility and it is simply unconscionable. There really isn’t any other word for it.
So all the random fulminations about how class size isn’t really vital but instead the quality of the teacher is the most important metric or the manners of the child or his readiness to learn – this is just so much utter poppycock tossed up in the air hoping something, somewhere will stick.
And it has because what I also hear is everywhere whispered the bizarre claim that teachers calling for lower class sizes is just a “personnel issue” and a ‘self-serving union ploy’.
I just can’t get over the surreal not to mention oxymoronic nature of such comments. Unions by definition advocate for the rights of their members, so work toward this end is their purpose by design, not disgrace. And for legions of the working class to criticize fellow denizens of the same circumstance is just nothing short of confusing. How does it come to pass that so many would work against their own best interest?
Because that’s what’s happening when fellow common parents and citizens scorn their teacher’s years-long shriek of outrage at being forced to disingenuously “teach” under conditions in which only inadequate or inequitable teaching can be done.
And by the way, “college-ready” students will have taken SAT tests in which they demonstrate proficiency at the fundamental task of identifying the true central meaning of some thesis. They are tempted by alternate tangential ones but the answer is “wrong” unless they correctly abstract the main one. Likening a call for smaller class-sizes to a “personnel issue”, is like considering concern for the economy and whether your family will have sufficient money, to be a “printing issue”. It’s just plain wrong.
Our teachers have been doing the job that the rest of us have been too oblivious to even understand: remonstrating that the prerogative of free public education as democratic bedrock has been transmogrified. A monied class of capitalists has overturned the civil right of education that our society once deemed basic, and substituted a profit-maximizing, anti-intellectual, free market free-for-all, under the misnomer of “Education Reform”.
Our children are complex critters who learn from older, more experienced versions of same. If the teachers are deprived of conditions that enable the children to learn, our children will not become “educated”.
It’s that simple.
Pay the teachers and mentors of our most precious commodity not only minimally acceptably, but better than anyone else. Why? Because they work with our most precious commodity, our future, our offspring — remember?
It’s not a personnel issue, or a special interest preoccupation, it’s a fundamental alignment of our society’s priorities. We live to replicate ourselves and we should be sure to do a good job of it.