Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anger Management

I am appalled by this malicious attack on teachers and teachers' unions by Jay Greene. He claims that teachers are engaging in mob-like behavior, are seething anger and are intimidating politicians. The irony is that I've met few teachers who are nearly as angry as Jay himself comes across.
But when the public face of the teacher unions is the Army of Angry Teachers, they no longer seem like Mary Poppins and begin to look a lot more like longshoremen beating their opponents with metal pipes.
Giant mobs of yelling protesters and blogs filled with tirades may increase the intimidation politicians feel, but it seriously undermines the image of teachers as an extension of our family.
Jay's "mob" is my "democratic gathering". Here in Wisconsin (the featured photo on Jay's blog post) there was an organic outpouring of disgust and determination as a result of Governor Scott Walker's attacks on collective bargaining and public employee and teachers unions -- and his decisions to balance the state budget on the backs of public workers and by gutting public education while steering tax breaks to corporations and providing massive funding increases to voucher schools.

Jay is mad that teachers are mad, but they have every right to be, especially in a state like Wisconsin. Have you visited Wisconsin in the past six months, Mr. Greene? Have you actually talked to teachers here? Have you seen and heard the thousands and thousands of protesters that have no vested or financial interest that nonetheless turned out en masse to speak out on behalf of others? (Clearly, these are rhetorical questions.)

This *is* what democracy looks like. The allowance of such an outpouring of opposition is why our nation was founded. Apparently, Jay's preferred answer to the Palin-esque question of "How's that redress of grievances thing workin' out for ya?" would be "It should not be allowed."

Wisconsin teachers have not and should not lie down and take the beating they've received here. Their right to bargain has been stripped. They've seen massive cuts to their pay and benefits. They're now working in public school systems that have had resources sucked out of them. They're standing up for their rights and for a far different state of Wisconsin than has emerged under the leadership of Governor Walker and his legislative Rubber Stamps.

Have teachers and their unions always advocated for and prioritized the best educational policies? Sure they haven't. Has any one education group or interest? (Greene's free market approach to education certainly doesn't represent sound policy.) Reforms can only succeed when teachers are full partners in their creation and implementation. And I will fight for the right of their voices to be heard in policy debates, in schools, and, yes, at the bargaining table.

It seems that Mr. Greene would prefer that teachers simply shut up.

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