Yesterday, today, and every day going forward, nearly every one of our nation’s 3 million public school teachers goes about doing their job, trying to help young people grow into functioning, capable, confident adults, this despite an avalanche of grim and dispiriting news about the enterprise they are devoting their careers to. To wit:
1) Voucher programs are on the rise everywhere, even though studies demonstrate that they don’t work very well;
A Brookings Institution analysis of four studies in different states with voucher programs found that “on average, students that use vouchers to attend private schools do less well on tests than similar students that do not attend private schools.”
2) Restrictions on what students can read in many states, including the great state of Florida;
And throughout Florida, many school librarians have been unable to order books for nearly a year, thanks to their districts’ interpretation of a state law requiring librarians to undergo an online retraining program on “the selection and maintenance of library … collections” — which was not published until this month. Julie Miller, a librarian for the Clay County School District, has not been permitted to order a book since March 2022. In a typical year, she would have ordered 300 titles by now. Instead, she has had more than a hundred conversations with disappointed students seeking fresh titles, she said, especially the latest books in their favorite fantasy series.
3) Restrictions on what teachers can teach, especially in the great state of Florida;
A Utah student group was called “Black and Proud.” The principal had it renamed. A New Hampshire history teacher used to discuss current events in a unit about race and economics. No more. And Florida school officials canceled a lecture for teachers on the history of the civil rights movement while they considered whether it would violate state rules.
4) Teacher shortages in Florida, Texas, California, Nevada, and elsewhere;
For years, the public education system has dealt with sweeping teacher shortages. Last year, shortages were worsening. Reasons for the teacher shortage range From low teacher pay to large class sizes, difficulty with teacher retention to burnout from the coronavirus. The staffing issues tend to affect some states more than others, but most jurisdictions have difficulty hiring and retaining employees.
4) Efforts to expand charter schools in New York and elsewhere, even though few charter schools are financially transparent, and despite the mounting evidence that many charter schools are outright scams;
The GREAT Academy (NM) apparently used public funds to pay for additional contracts and bonuses that went to the school’s husband-and-wife founders by channeling the dollars through its foundation, according to a special audit released earlier this month. Read More
5) Hostile takeovers of local school boards by right-wing crazies;
In the wake of recent victories in Texas and Pennsylvania — and having spent $2 million between April 2021 and this August, according to campaign finance filings — (The 1776 Pac) is campaigning for dozens of candidates this fall. It’s supporting candidates in Maryland’s Frederick and Carroll counties, in Bentonville, Arkansas, and 20 candidates across southern Michigan.
6) Fear mongering and increasingly hostile policies toward transgender youth;
A national survey by GLSEN has found that 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school, and those who are able to persevere had significantly lower GPAs, were more likely to miss school out of concern for their safety, and were less likely to plan on continuing their education. Critically, it is not just hostility from peers that threatens equal opportunity for transgender and gender non-conforming students. Too often, school officials themselves single out these youth by refusing to respect their gender identity and even punishing them for expressing that identity.
7) An unwillingness to provide resources to help emotionally troubled youth who are having difficulty adjusting to the return to school after Covid.
Schools across the country are overwhelmed with K-12 students struggling with mental health problems, according to school staff, pediatricians and mental health care workers. Not only has this surge made the return to classrooms more challenging to educators, it’s also taxing an already strained health-care system.
And while I don’t suggest ignoring the headlines and I don’t want anyone to underestimate the danger that public education is in today, it’s important to keep in mind that the vast majority of our nation’s 3 million teachers are helping our young people grow into functioning, confident adults.
A healthy public education system is a fundamental pillar of our society, and an educated citizenry is our best protection against fascism, despotism, and other ‘isms’ that threaten the American experiment.
So, if you know some teachers, why not let them know they are appreciated. Make tomorrow Teacher Appreciation Day….and the next day as well. And the day after that…..
And please let your political leaders know that you support public education and our country’s young people.
One thought on “TEACHERS MATTER”
I’m a liberal mom from Michigan, homeowner, entrepreneur. You mentioned southern Michigan so I thought I’d provide some color.
div>Many parents of all politics have felt squeezed out of the process during COVID.