Teaching Me About Teaching
Charles Blow with a NYT op ed that underscores how careful we reformers must be not to attack teachers, but only the bad behavior of their unions:
She wasn't just teaching school lessons but life lessons. For her, it was about more than facts and figures. It was about the love of learning and the love of self. It was the great entangle, education in the grandest frame, what sticks with you when all else falls away. As Albert Einstein once said: "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."
She showed me what a great teacher looked like: proud, exhausted, underpaid and overjoyed. For great teachers, the job is less a career than a calling. You don't become a teacher to make a world of money. You become a teacher to make a world of difference. But hard work deserves a fair wage.
That's why I have a hard time tolerating people who disproportionately blame teachers for our poor educational outcomes. I understand that not every teacher is a great one. But neither is every plumber, or every banker or every soldier. Why then should teachers be demonized so much?
I won't pretend to have all the policy prescriptions to address our country's educational crisis, but beating up teachers isn't the solution. We must be honest brokers in our efforts to fix a broken system.
Do we need teacher accountability? Yes.
Must unions be flexible? Yes.
But is it just as important to address the poverty, stress and hopelessness that some children bring into the classroom, before the bell rings and the chalk screeches across a blackboard? Yes.
Do we need to take a closer look at pay and incentives for teachers? Yes.
Do we need to lift them up a bit more than we tear them down? A thousand times, yes!
A big part of the problem is that teachers have been so maligned in the national debate that it's hard to attract our best and brightest to see it as a viable and rewarding career choice, even if they have a high aptitude and natural gift for it.