Saturday, May 14, 2011

Educational McCarthyism

Despite internet reports we here at TU have yet to endorse Donald Trump or any other candidate for that matter as we try our best to avoid overt political involvement. In fact we tend to frown on those who criticize or attack for personal or political gain. Keeping this effort in mind the tone of criticism of public schools and specifically teachers by politicians and other public figures is noteworthy for the opposite reason. Examples of acceptable criticism have grown rather outrageous. Some link this to partisan issues and single out conservatives for this practice in particular. They might just be the loudest or most effective. I hear it in both my left and right ears.

The current federal administration is driving reform so deep that is likely to embed deeper than a deer tick. Scary to think much of this reform is unproven but its impacts are huge. The political left,  historically seen as a champion of educational reform, are cashing in the bad teacher and failing schools card both with an ambiguous foundation. Many within education have spoken out in opposition to current reforms. Rather than sit down with teachers and listen to ideas as they say they are doing, they sit down with Gates and Wall Street. When teachers express concerns they are dismissed and portrayed as stuck in the past. Teacher Unions have lost influence and been relegated to only being involved in issues involving compensation.

From the other side of the spectrum many take direct aim at our schools. Here's some examples.
Speaking about teachers "their carefully orchestrated, partially hidden agenda has deliberately steered the public schools, its teachers and children down a disaster road to socialism, secular humanism, radicalism, planned failure in reading and writing, suffocation of Christianity, the trashing of basic values and the establishment of one of the most powerful and dangerous unions, the National Education Association". Another from a Congressman "protect children from mental, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by secular humanists in a socialist society or governmental system.”  Hmmm...thanks for the kind words.

One local bully turned "host" continues to ask "Do you know who's teaching your children?" Even going so far as to post among his various youtube clips one of a student who went to a school board meeting asking for more tax support for education. Another singled out a teacher who attended a political rally featuring the president and he added a blog post featuring "anonymous testimony" from a student accusing the majority of the teachers at the school of being too liberal. To presume that to be the case is an insult. Once he targeted a teacher for posters supporting peace and environmental responsibility. He's put a bunch of similar clips up in what I can only I judge as a sad effort to discredit our teachers and schools. The most recent zeroed in on how the athletic departments at local schools had "illegal" contracts with apparel companies. Way to go! You guys are great Americans and do a great service to our nation. I'm currently working to have your faces carved on a local mountain.

I've never heard this local working in a constructive way to help our schools or teachers let alone actually say anything good about them. All bad, all the time. Just doing what bums like this do, trying to get ratings and get attention. I am smart enough to not engage him, that's what he wants. He's a smart guy, but so was another guy a ways back named Joe. What I would like to do is point this out for what it is...Educational Mccarthyism. 

Any decent teacher knows we can't say whatever we want in class. On issues ranging from evolution to the President we have to use sound judgment and we are always under the microscope. I think parents should have a certain expectation of objectivity. It can be tough but increasingly we are forced to defend ourselves for no reason.  Here's a radical idea, if you have a problem, call the teacher. Don't go on TV or through the media.  But really, who's teaching your kids? Allow me to take a moment to tell you.

We are overworked and demoralized. Increasingly we are made responsible for all that seems wrong with the nation. We have low morale, are arguably underpaid and feel unsupported. We are frightened of where the past decade of federal efforts are taking us. As local districts and states scramble to adapt and even just maintain some level of quality amidst the barrage of economic and political shifts, the lowly teacher hangs on as the boat rocks, many of us saddened we've seen our abilities to be effective reduced.

I suppose we stay cause we think our work means something. We enjoy actually teaching. We value interacting with the young and their families and working with them to develop into people who will inherit the world. We believe in the good our schools do. But who listens when we speak of our concerns? The collective voices of teachers have started to rise against things they think are bad ideas. But it is hard to speak out when you are a teacher. You're quickly linked to the evil unions or made out to look self serving. Blanket phrases like "failing schools" and "wasteful" are thrown out to muffle your voice. Our personal voice isn't just limited in the classroom on curricular matters but also anything connected to education.  Locally I've spoken up about more things in the past 6 months than in my entire career. Most of what I said with my colleagues has been ignored and some even used it as proof we are not objective.

Teachers are shouted down with a voice reminiscent of Tailgunner Joe. We are ignored, discredited, labeled and singled out. What's hard here is that it doesn't take long to find what teachers are saying(the internet is one safe outlet to express discontent), but you sure don't hear that anywhere. The media doesn't seem interested in our concerns and chooses to direct attention towards politically driven plans that make little educational sense. Where and when can we say what we want without fear and actually be heard? Maybe the public no longer has the attention to sit through televised hearings as they did in 1954 when Joseph Welch stood tall.
Welch’s reply to Joe McCarthy's attacks became famous: “Until this moment, senator, I think I never gauged your cruelty or recklessness .... Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Who will defend us?


  1. I'll defend you

  2. I don't need an actual lawyer...yet. But thanks for the tours of the Capitol when we came with our classes...if this is really the Virgil Goode? I miss the campaign days of Goode vs Weed. Life seemed simpler.

  3. I'll defend you

  4. I'll defend you....

  5. I'll defend you.