Progressive Politics and Regressive Education

October 10, 2012

Traditional education as we know it, where students were taught reading, writing and arithmetic, in addition to history, health and the natural sciences- is a thing of the past. Public schools used to prepare students for the future, and when they leave school at 16 or 18, they knew what the future held for them and where they were going.

Today we can look back at teachers and teaching, students and learning, and unions and their fights for fair wages and decent working conditions as discussions of the past. The new rule for the 21st Century is how to cut cost and punish the kids.

It has been a long time since teachers were accorded the respect and cooperation they needed to function in the classroom. In the early 1970s, teachers in NYC were earning between $9,000 and $12,000 annually. Working conditions were better because students came to school to learn, and they benefitted from a decent education and acceptable preparation for the larger world, while administrators were more supportive of their teachers.


education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

So even though they were paid pennies and had fewer benefits, the kids were respectful and the administrators more human. Unions were fighting for teachers and within certain limits, they succeeded. That’s all in the past.

Today’s reality is different. Instead of life getting better for teachers and their students, the conditions have deteriorated to such a low that teachers are now fighting for their integrity, their principles, and the common respect of the system, their supervisors, their students, and the people in their communities; and the students, of course, thanks to self-destructive education policies are now at almost the bottom of the world list on any given academic subject.

How did this happen? No one wants to know the facts on how it happened, but every talking head is bearing down on teachers as the culprits who are not doing the job they are paid (the best salaries in the world) to do. Beat up on the teachers, but the real losers in this fight are the kids and the future of this country.


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