To Teach or Not To Teach: That is the Question.
This all started with two teachers; well, to be precise, one teacher and a group of teachers but lets just pretend that all the teachers at the State House in Wisconsin are one guy. The other, of course is the Pennsylvania teacher who blogged about her teaching experiences and got suspended. The jury is out on both these teachers. Some people support the ‘right’ of public employees to abandon their battle stations and picket the government. Some people say it is an outrage. Some people think that the Pennsylvania teacher was out of line to suggest that her students were not motivated. Some people think it’s about time that somebody says that kids should be responsible.
Sue and Wesley
Lets call our surrogate Wisconsin teacher, Wesley and the Pennsylvania teacher Sue just for discussion and forget the complication that Wesley is part of a pack and Sue is the lone ranger. Lets just talk about how crazy things have gotten here in the old USA that these are big news stories.
Let’s start with Sue
Let’s start with Sue, merely because her story started first. Sue is a young, pregnant, energetic and engaged teacher. From what I can read, she seems to be exactly the kind of person I would like to have teaching my kids. In the midst of her busy and challenging life she starts a blog. The reason is probably as a way of organizing her thinking, chronicling her progress and perhaps some venting. I wasn’t following her blog until the big blowup- and then of course it went down. As I understand, she did not mention names or indicate her school or location but someone noticed. Her honest and anonymous comments tagged her as a liability for the school and she found her extremely pregnant self escorted off the premises and into limbo.
Moving along to Wesley
Now, how about Wesley? Wesley wakes up to discover that the state government is planing to require teachers to contribute more toward pension and health benefits to balance a budget strapped by a bad economy.
“They can’t do this to me!” , Wesley says as he checks an email from his Teacher’s Union. “No school today.”
So Wesley and hundreds of Wisconsin teachers drive to Madison to protest and attempt to prevent this action. Hundreds of classrooms are abandoned all over Wisconsin. Thousands of children get no instruction.
The impact is the same. Both Wesley and Sue leave their classrooms abandoned. Wesley from his choice and Sue from her Principal’s choice. Is either one of them right? Does Sue have the right to expect a pass when she criticizes her students? Do Wesley’s concerns for his income trump his responsibility to his community? Since they are both public employees, what does the public actually think about this?
Starting with this Coot
This Coots has some strong opinions that come from my career as a unionized public employee and now a blogger. I began my employment back before government workers were forced to join unions. In those days, you accepted that government work would pay less than working for a private company but that the job security and benefits were a partial compensation along with the satisfaction from serving your community. In those days, citizens saw government workers as necessary expenses and were accepting of paying reasonable wages. That was long ago and far away. There are now so many government workers doing things that were never needed before (and perhaps not needed now?) and at such outrageous salaries that the public can only see the government as a parasite sucking them dry.
Wow! That came out a bit strong, didn’t it.
Anyway the good public servants doing necessary jobs in responsible ways get lumped in with the leeches. The good ones never confuse their interests with their responsibilities. They show up and expect to be appreciated for their service. The leeches? They show up at the Statehouse.
Am I saying Wesley is a leech?
Not on your life. I’m a blogger, too.
Now what about Sue?
I really feel for Sue. She is exactly the kind of our person I hope our country can still produce. She cares. She is committed to her job. She thinks.
Still was it right to point our that some of her students expect the world on a platter? Probably not.
Should she have been escorted off the school grounds by goons? I don’t think so.
Should she return to her job? That’s the big question and the answer says a lot about whether our culture is declining or holding.
So, what about consequences?
However the circus in Wisconsin plays out, the worst thing to happen to Wesley is that he may be docked for the days of school he missed. Life will go on. Wisconsin will either cust costs in response to the voters or go bankrupt in response to the unions. Whatever, Wesley will still have his job.
Or that Sue should get a pass?
Sue may get her job back but it all depends on the nervous Nelly administrators that fear lawsuits and the parents in her school district. She is a liability; great teacher though she may be. She will be a target for any whining student who thinks he deserves a better grade or indulging parents who want to get their daughter into Yale. My money says they won’t take the risk.
Warning: Soapbox ahead
The cause of all this is the government monopoly on education. We all contribute to educating the youth of the country but instead of allowing parents to control where that money goes, the government decides. And lately, you may have noticed, the government doesn’t seem to care what the masses think. Since government schools don’t have to worry about attracting customers, they sell out to their employees. And since students don’t have any choice either, their only recourse is to sue when they aren’t treated right.
What’s your take on Wesley and Sue? Government workers? Unions? School Districts?