Glenn Beck and Kyle Olson’s new book, “Conform,” is about Common Core specifically, the state of public education in America more generally, and how to improve our system going forward with a set of practical, market-based reforms. In Chapter Two, Glenn and Kyle address the pervasive myth that “Critics of the [existing] system are just ‘teacher bashers.’”
Unions and their enablers have their own version of the “race card” in education: criticize the government education system and they will label you a "teacher basher."
"Gov. Romney and a number of folks try to politicize the issue and do a lot of teacher-bashing," President Barack Obama said in 2012 when Mitt Romney criticized the Chicago Teachers Union strike. Romney had criticized the union after they walked out on students when America’s third-largest district refused to give them a 30 percent raise.
Teachers' Unions Protest in Chicago, September 15, 2012. (Image Source: Getty Images)
Romney’s criticism constituted the sole basis of Obama’s accusation of "teacher bashing."
Like playing the race card, this Alinsky-ite technique is designed to chill critics who fear the scowls and invectives of the teacher-loving public.
I wonder how Obama and other union apologists would characterize the following individuals.
In 2012, Wisconsin resident Kristi Lacroix criticized the teachers’ union-led recall effort against Gov. Scott Walker and the agenda of Big Labor:
"This is an awesome scheme. You have public employees. Tax dollars go to pay the public employees. You as the union automatically get some of that taxpayer money. And then they can use it to elect officials that will continue their reign of power. It’s one of the best schemes."
What a teacher basher.
Or how about Michigan resident Andrew Buikema. He had the gall to appear on the Fox News Channel in 2011 to criticize a compulsory $10 increase in National Education Association dues that was going to be spent on advertising promoting President Obama’s re-election. "[They] became a teacher to help kids, not to become a political pawn," he said.
How bashingly offensive.
Or consider Brad McQueen’s exposé of National Teacher of the Year candidates.
"The National Teacher of the Year Program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which authored the Common Core Standards and owns their copyright. So the authors of Common Core choose the state and national level teachers of the year," Arizona resident McQueen wrote.
Can you believe this creep? He takes teacher bashing to a whole new level: thumbing his nose at teachers of the year!
Amy Lawson, a fifth-grade teacher at Silver Lake Elementary School in Middletown, Del., helps student Melody Fritz with an English language arts lesson Oct. 1, 2013. Silver Lake has begun implementing the national Common Core State Standards for academics. Remembering the plot of a short story is no longer good enough in Lawson’s fifth-grade classroom. Now, students are being asked to think more critically -- what, for example, might a character say in an email to a friend. "It’s hard. But you can handle this," Lawson tells them. Welcome to a classroom using the Common Core State Standards, one of the most politicized and misunderstood changes in education for students and their teachers in grades kindergarten through high school. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
But what’s the common denominator among all of these people? They’re public school teachers -- or apparently self-loathing people who obviously have no business polluting the minds of children in unionized, politically correct government schools.
Like when the race card is thrown down, we must drive through the rhetoric and continue with our measured, reasoned critique of the government education system, its progressive value set and its agenda to compel our children to meld with the collective.
Glenn and I can recall with great affection our best teachers – individuals who loved teaching and learning and inspired us to reach higher. That’s why we stand with teachers like Lacroix, Buikema and McQueen, who are dedicated to ensuring that others have the same educational opportunities that we did.
But sadly, because I have become a critic of the system from which I graduated, I have somehow become a "teacher basher." To me, that says something about the insecurity of the system and its defenders: the system cannot tolerate folks willing to think critically about education and speak up. And it makes you wonder, why are supporters of the system so fearful of criticism if they are so right and we are so wrong?
As we say in “Conform”:
"It’s difficult to talk about reforming education without talking about teacher quality. A lot of people try to walk on eggshells, not wanting to look as though they are pointing a finger at those who stand in front of our kids doing the hard work every day. But if you don’t acknowledge that teacher quality is the key to turning this all around, then your solutions aren’t going to get us very far.
Teacher quality is influenced by lots of different factors—many of which I cover in this book: unions and collective bargaining; the quality of our teachers’ colleges; compensation strategies; administrators and school boards; and federal mandates promoting "teaching to the test." The entire system rises and falls on teacher quality. Aside from parents, it’s the most critical ingredient to positive educational outcomes—yet most want to sidestep the issue for fear of alienating a group of people that we all respect."
Unwilling to acknowledge the reforms needed to improve our schools, those who want to maintain the status quo will go beyond accusing critics of being "teacher bashers" to arguing that there should be no critics whatsoever -- the experts need to be left in charge of schools, parents be damned. Some defenders of the system simply think that those taxpaying parent rubes are just too stupid to know what’s best for their children. And since they’ve never been in the classroom, parents should have no voice in overseeing this arm of the government and ensuring accountability.
"If you haven’t been in the classroom, you have no business in the [school] board room," Florida teacher Patricia Fox said. This was her argument for why she was a superior candidate for her school board.
New York University professor Diane Ravitch, a darling in the union crowd, said, "How does ‘caring’ about education translate into the experience and knowledge needed to run a school?"
[sharequote align="center"]Defenders of the system...think that those taxpaying...rubes are just too stupid to know what’s best[/sharequote]
Maybe because we’re parents and we know what’s best for our children; maybe because we are paying teachers to serve our children; maybe because of all the services provided by government, public education most directly affects our families and communities.
The controllists want to accuse anyone with a contrarian opinion of being a "teacher basher," or someone unworthy of offering opinions and solutions because they haven’t been properly indoctrinated into supporting the system – they essentially believe that the debate between "experts" and ordinary citizens is over, and the science is settled.
But their accusations ring hollow and exhibit a fundamental weakness when their own colleagues join the growing chorus of critics. That the educators who support Common Core need to engage in ad hominem attacks against its critics, and stifle a robust and vigorous debate on the subject tells you that something is very wrong here.
The future of our children and our country rests on exposing the truth, and not cowing to the bullies of the educational Establishment.
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