Teachers are all over the news these days. They are heroes, and they are villains. I’m just scratching my head, wondering if there is any hope for the American education system. The short answer is, No. Public education in this country is utterly broken and beyond reform. If Americans want free education available to every child, we need to throw out the current system and start over. That includes rethinking how teacher are hired and compensated.
One of my favorite recent news stories has been the tale of the Pennsylvania high school teacher , Natalie Munroe, who vented her frustration about her students on her blog. She never named her school or any student, and she blogged anonymously. She did use her picture and first name. Sounds to me like one of her disgruntled students dug around to find her blog and make it public. Many call her a hero for telling it like it really is in the classroom these days. She held little back in describing the apathy, disrespect, and trashiness of her students. Everything she wrote that was publicized in the news is TRUE about a whole lot of high school students. Just ask any teacher you know. Munroe seems to be quite articulate and clever in her writing, but she may not have been the sharpest tool in the shed for revealing as much of her identity as she did on her blog. The outrage by those who demonize her seems to be caused by the fact that she had the nerve to reveal how she really feels about your kids. No, she doesn’t cherish them when they swear at her, threaten her, sleep through her class, or ignore her as they plan their next hook-up.
A thousand or so miles away in Wisconsin, we have teachers storming the state capitol building in protest over a bill proposing to limit their collective bargaining rights as well as require them and other public sector union members to contribute more toward their own retirement and health care plans. This is the hill they’ve chosen to die on. One that is nothing about the students but all about teachers’ entitlements. Their demonstration left some schools closed due to a massive teacher “sick-out.” A fine example for students. So are the comparisons of Gov. Scott Walker to Hitler on the signs some protestors carried. Heroes of the middle class? Or greedy union minions?
Long ago, I made the decision that public school doesn’t work. Not for our family, and really not for anyone else either. There is so much wrong with the system that it’s best just to abandon it altogether in favor of something completely different. I laughed out loud reading Natalie Munroe’s scathing comments about her students…until I got to the part about parents’ outcry and her suspension. Heaven forbid anyone investigates the cause of her remarks. Nope. Better to smooth the ruffled feathers of the parents of those poor children by getting rid of the teacher. What will happen to all those Wisconsin teachers when they drag their sorry rear ends back to school? Nothing, no doubt. No matter that they deserve a Reagan-vs.-air-traffic-controllers treatment. When the best education for children is no longer the focus of the education system, it’s not worth saving.