Fight at the educational waterhole heats up

Contention between parties contending for the available wealth–public resource control combat–has arrived in my school district, where the board is facing down the teachers’ union. This is a battle-scarred board. In the past few years they have successfully “beaten” the custodians and para-professionals in contract negotiations, demolishing wage scales and demanding pension and working condition give-backs.  The public has not blinked at this  “rationalizing” of finances in a time of economic crisis. After all, why should secretaries or janitors have cushy jobs?

And since they are negotiating a new contract, why should teachers? It’s time to cut the fat and demand more productivity for less money from those 9 month-a-year public servants. Just after its high school has been placed on official “academic warning”for not meeting AYP, and in the midst of a protracted recession is the perfect time to make noises about turning off the spigot of public dollars that profligately flow into teacher salaries.

In response to an article about the failing AYP schools today, an anonymous commentator on a local news site wrote,  “All the real estate taxes & money that is pumped into [the district] seems like a waste, they can’t show progress, just what kind of educators do have over there? What a disappointment.”

What kind of educators? My answer:  educators who are struggling against an unreasonable system of accountability, and who nonetheless are increasing your children’s ACT scores in larger classrooms. They will also teach your children not to write comma-splice run-ons such as yours.

Another commentator used a metaphor I never thought I’d hear applied to our schools. It made me wince:  “a tax sewer,” s/he called it.

from Kubrick’s 2001
To which I reply: A sewer? Really? Do you really see everything in your schools as waste? Or are you merely saying so because it distracts people from the fact of long-term progress and riles up your opponent, accusing him/her of being superfluous?  
My guess is that such comments are the expected boasts one hears shouted before violence, analogous to the mean things drunks yell at each other before coming to blows, or the mad shrieks of apes at the waterhole, ready to do battle over the precious resource. 
I certainly hope that calmer voices speak reason in the coming days, and that there is the tone of conciliation. A strike ultimately hurts only the children and spoils the collaborative spirit needed to solve big problems.

But for now, as people are feel threatened and provoked, fighting noises rise.  And I say, “Yikes! Let’s settle this like adults. And not in front of the children.”

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