George M. Haddad
April 7, 2005
Copyright © George M. Haddad
We were sitting around the kitchen table as relatives were wont to do and immersed in solving all the world’s problems. Two were retired schoolteachers who had experienced the whole gamut from the good to the bad. Out of the blue one of them remarked that she couldn’t quite figure out the tremendous changes during her career. She stated that there was a time when the teacher’s word was law and that parents were strong supporters. Johnny and Jane were quite aware that parents had a strong alliance with their teachers. There was no solace at home. My retired teacher cousin went on to relate that something changed with the teacher-parent relationship and the esteem once held by the teachers seemed to have fallen by the wayside.
I reminded her that the teachers brought it upon themselves. When they decided to become unionized they inadvertently switched from a profession to a trade. They had unwittingly become collectivists. They transferred a once proud profession from a strong partnership to an adversarial position with parents. They moved quickly from being regarded as members of an intelligentsia to an indistinguishable entity in a low brow conspiracy. They became ensnared in the “we-they” trap. They discovered too late that they couldn’t have it both ways.
They fell prey to where teacher proficiency succumbed to teacher narcissism. This should not be considered unusual since this is the only way that unionism can justify itself. Let the teachers know what we can do for them, protect and support the incompetent and make sure that they are always aware that without us they have neither voice nor clout. Children became nothing more than a side issue.
The teachers unions became boxed within a paradox. They insisted that teachers be treated with the respect and dignity of professionals while operating within the typical union climate against those who do not toe the line. In times of disagreement, picketing, ostracizing those whom they conceived as scabs, vandalizing the home of the recalcitrants, slashing tires and making sure that their contract dates coincided as to when the Fall school semester ended became the norm. An excessive interest in the politics of the Leftist-Socialist movement rather than raising the bar for much needed higher standards as a requirement for good teachers overrode any sense of obligation to the children. Once the Unionistas took over ineptness followed. It was a given. This should not be too surprising since in following their mentor John Dewey’s philosophy it led them into today’s progressive education and secularistic ideology. The direction taken was that teaching should focus on judgment rather than wisdom and on feelings rather than knowledge. The end result was a dysfunction in American Education which steam-rollered downward at an increasing rate. Basically, the Left took over American Public Education.
Good teachers are kept out of the classroom either because they refuse to become unionized or because they are not certified. Contemporary history indicates certification and good teaching are not necessarily compatible. In the recent past an individual asked an education researcher of a reputable think tank as to whether teachers in charter schools needed to be certified in the State of Michigan. He wrote back as follows: “Yes, charter school teachers in Michigan must be certified (unfortunately). I say "unfortunately" because certification essentially guarantees nothing other than the person jumped through some hoops and took a few courses of dubious value. If it guaranteed anything, we wouldn't have a persistent, national education crisis!”
Today’s teachers tend to fall into three categories: Fertile, Neutered and Sterile.
Fertile - We have and are blessed with thousands of teachers who are intelligent, well educated, love teaching, love children and are involved at grade levels and subject matter for which they have been trained. They continually take additional courses to sharpen their skills. These represent the fire wall defense from the others. This lends them an aura of “professionalism” and a modicum of credibility.
Neutered — These are the ones to whom this is just a job. They tend to be phlegmatic and destined to ride with the waves no matter the direction. They have been successfully brainwashed and easy prey for the ideologists who press them to indoctrinate. Their personal financial security supersedes everything else within their limited parameters. These are the one’s when ordered to sit will make sure first that the chair is padded.
Sterile - These hate the job. Dislike children. Put in their time from paycheck to paycheck. Tread the halls with blinders on. Make sure not to rock the boat. Could care less regarding the subjects they are assigned to teach and for which they are usually unqualified. Nothing short of a phlebotomy would inculcate sufficient energy for them to work and earn a full day’s pay. These are the one’s when ordered to sit will do so whether there’s a chair or not.
The latter two are strong unionists for this is their protection from oblivion. With a credo of all for one and one for all they cannot be dislodged short of an earthquake. The pay classification for these indolents will not suffer as it relates to the salary of those who are hard working and dedicated.
But mediocrity does breed mediocrity. The agenda of protecting people who have no business in the classroom has given us the age of permissiveness, and limited discipline. Students who are being taught by low level teachers with limited ability and who are subjected to grade inflation while being prematurely passed on to the next level not only end up unequal to the challenges ahead but if ambitious enough to want to forge to the front find themselves detoured into remedial classes. They cannot cut the mustard.
Public education today is deficient in teaching basic mathematics and in most areas deliberately convoluting, neglecting and minimizing History, Geography, Literature, Spelling and English grammar amongst others in a limited curricula. They have become indoctrinaires in the very arena from which they themselves were taught.
And so where are the parents? Unfortunately Collectivism created a vacuum between teachers and parents from which a once productive field of education has never recovered. Parents were compromised. To coin a phrase from Jefferson, “much was expected by some — but little by others — and nothing by a few.”
It was Socrates who wrote, “what mean ye fellow citizens that ye turn every stone to scrape wealth together and take so little care of your children to whom one day ye must relinquish all.”
|George M. Haddad has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology and a Masters Degree in Social Administration with extensive work experience with the mentally ill. The former Executive Director - National Institute for Burn Medicine - affiliated with the University of Michigan. He is retired from the National Staff of the YMCA as a troubleshooter in financial management and administration and has worked as a management consultant to non-profit corporations. He has written frequently on medical, social and political issues and has many published articles to his credit. He currently writes from Franklin, Michigan and can be contacted at email@example.com.
25 apr 2005