As thousands of public school teachers rally today in Chicago, it is clear that they know the future of public education in this country is at stake. Despite media coverage that has failed to highlight the true nature of this fight, it is clear that teachers in Chicago and around the country are far from the lazy, money hungry pariahs that the neo-cons hope to paint them as.
In fact, their biggest concern right now is the same reason they got into the game in the first place – to teach young people. The points of contention between Chicago teachers and the school districts at this time all have to do with quality in education: class size, lack of books, the room to measure progress according to each student’s needs and enough job security to follow through on that promise.
Those who would privatize and commodify every last thing on God’s formerly-green earth are on the offensive, seeking whom and what they may devour.
I came across a video of Molly Meacham, a Chicago high school teacher. It’s entitled, “How a Political Poem was Bullied out of Me.”
The truth is that most teachers feel just this passion for their vocation. I have certainly known many who do — and many who have lost their jobs after years of service. This cannot be good for students. It takes a certain amount of time to gain the skills and experience to lead a classroom. It seems to me this is lesson one for a teacher. It is just plain crazy to remove teachers who have gained this skill and replace them with those who have yet to learn it.
Of course, I’m not saying we don’t need new teachers – but, the new can learn from the more experienced – just like in any job. When more senior teachers are removed for the sake of paying less in salary and benefits, everyone loses.
Now, the struggle has been ratcheted up; and, educators are forced to go to bat for the very existence of free education. As for me, I stand with Molly for the integrity of the public school system. All young people deserve a free and quality education.