Sunday, February 25, 2018

NRA? Forever. NEA? Not Ever. The Destruction of Public Education

West Virginia Teachers are on strike.

Students are being shot in schools.

The Secretary of Education self-assesses herself a B+ or A- on her first year of work.

Boston University is the latest college to forgive students who are disciplined if they walk out of school on March 14 to demonstrate for school safety.

The president and the NRA want teachers to carry a gun in school.

This is the state of education today.

In a way, this doesn't surprise me. After all, I lived through 8 years of Chris Christie and the Know-Nothings bashing teachers, ridiculing our concerns and generally creating a toxic environment for all public workers. Now that we're living with the greatest worst president in the history of our country, it would make sense that we have the best anti-education leaders in our history making decisions that make little common sense and absolutely no education sense.

West Virginia is just another example of anti-union states paying teachers so little that they have to get second jobs just to maintain a middle class existence. This is what happens when ideologues take away the power of workers to bargain collectively or to have a say in their work environments. It speaks volumes that teachers believe they have to strike because it goes against everything that effective educators believe, which is that we need to be in the classroom educating children. To decide that you have to be out of the classroom with a picket sign is a sign that the state government has gone too far.

And it could, and likely will, get worse. On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear a case that could severely cripple unions that represent public workers. The Janus case  would allow people to opt out of, or not join, a union, and thus not pay a dime, but would require the union to still bargain on behalf of that employee. This would place an undue financial burden on unions, but the real effect, and what the right wing has wanted for decades, is the end of public worker unions. The right believes that management is always right and that they should make all decisions regarding financial and employment matters.

Which then brings us to the Secretary of Education. Her self-assessment is the reason why educators don't allow or encourage...self-assessment when it comes to grades. I have no doubt that Secretary DeVos believes she's doing a fabulous job when in fact she is not. She wants to have all education decisions revert to the states, but that will only bring us back to the wildly different standards and achievement levels that led us to A Nation at Risk. Allowing 50 different sets of education standards is a terrible idea because it does not guarantee every child a quality education.

And a quality education seems to have missed those politicians, from public and private schools, who recommend arming teachers and vilify students as actors who are in thrall to Democrats when the GOP is in thrall to the NRA. The president, in fact, has adopted all of the NRA talking points, but none of the National Education Association. Need I say more?

It's clear that proponents of arming teachers have not really thought through the ramifications of such a move. How would the guns be stored? What about liability? What happens if a gun goers off accidentally or doesn't go of at all? What if a students gets possession of a teacher's gun? What kind of environment are you creating when guns saturate schools?

But all of those questions pale in the presence of the fact that public money, and lots of it, would be going to something that has nothing to do with education. If there's money available for weapons training, why not use it for curriculum, professional development, or paying teachers a livable wage so they don't have to go to their second job after school?

There is no way that students can adequately learn in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, but that's exactly what would happen if we introduce more guns into schools. Armed security guards? That would be fine, but not teachers. That would lead to tragedy.

This administration has shown that American cultural norms are subject to the whims of lobbyists, piles of cash and fealty to the president. The result will not help children, education or the nation.

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