Teachers and education are easy targets now for cutbacks in this time of economic woe. The News Tribune has been surveying readers about slashing teachers’ salaries, with most Hot Button responders voting in favor of the cuts. The public seems to easily accept these cutbacks to balance the budget on the back of the schools.
During the past 10 years, starting with No Child Left Behind and now with Race to the Top, teachers have been condemned in the media for students’ poor academic performance. Compare that to the idealized “superhero” teacher in movies such as “Waiting for Superman” – the warm-hearted teacher winning the love of poverty-stricken students who go to college.
These superheroes are identified as the role model for teachers, and teachers whose students don’t succeed on high-stakes tests by a certain percent are demonized.
Most teachers are very dedicated, hard-working and effective. Regrettably, teachers are an easy target because politics needs a scapegoat for our nation’s failure to grow economically.
We ignore the reality that education is only a reflection of our society. In the past, an eighth-grade education was enough. Fifty years ago, one could graduate from high school and support a family. We are going through a cultural revolution where we are competing globally for work. Half of our largest companies’ new hires are now abroad.
Balancing the budget on the back of students and teachers is a short-sighted way to invest in the long-term goal of building a better America.