Saturday, January 23, 2010

What You Really Think About Teachers

I'm not sure what people really think of teachers anymore.  On the one hand, you have a gracious acknowledgment of the implied dedication & sacrifice of the profession.  But on the other, you have endless public cries in anguish over what a terrible job teachers are doing. 

The fact that we now have reams of data linking poverty to education certainly paints a vivid portrait for many of ghetto schools as low-performing poverty factories.  Of course, even the brightest wonks have always had trouble with correlation vs. causation.

So in the end much of the ambiguity relates to one's expectations of what is actually possible through a public education system.  If you believe that with current levels of funding, the basic structure of education should be able to compensate for all other social effects, given some tweaking here and there - "an emphasis on rigor, discipline, etc.", then you likely appreciate the sacrifices teachers make but see them as standing in the way of a sort of utopia where similar proportions of children from all socio-economic backgrounds achieve success.  In other words, a class of largely inept, morally bankrupt and self-interested parasites of the state who only manage to survive via the red menace that is unionism.

However, if you believe that a social project in which every single child, from every background, is brought to a proportionally adequate level of self-efficacy by the age of 18 will inevitably require massive intervention by the state, because while children from some backgrounds will continue to do fine under the current, traditional model, others with backgrounds putting them "at-risk" for a variety of negative outcomes will not thrive in conditions of overcrowding, scarce resources, and overwhelmed teachers and administrators... then you will likely be thanking God that there are people who are either desperate enough or compassionate enough to put on a happy face and welcome the hundreds of thousands of daughters and sons who come to their doors each and every day and do their damnedest to help them succeed no matter how few people really understand what their job is like and how many people don't understand at all yet feel they have a right to weigh in because, well, they were all students once or have children of their own and so they must be experts in a field which is literally a microcosm of every god-forsaken political, social, psychological, philosophical or economic theory that has come down the pike since the dawn of human civilization. 

Or, you know.  Something like that.

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