Education Is No Cakewalk: The Picket Line Against The 1%

Photo by Ryan Williams (used with permission)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Chicago teachers have been on strike for a week, and two other suburban areas have since followed suit. Predictably, the argument coming from critics of the CTU centers around teachers making too much money, putting children at risk while “whining” about pay, and teachers being some sort of self entitled class uninterested in hard work (re: lazy).

Given that the majority of Americans attended school at some point and more than likely, had at least a few good teachers who helped their education and changed their lives in some positive way, it’s already hard to imagine the cognitive dissonance it takes to make sweeping generalizations about a group of 30,000 people. But, critics of the CTU seem readily able to forget what the classroom looked like in their day with themselves on the other side of the podium, more than likely not always sitting still and paying attention. In which case, I would suggest those critics who have a fuzzy memory to ask a teacher – maybe one of their old ones – if their job was an incredibly easy cakewalk and if they felt they made too much money for doing it.

In talking to the teachers I have on the picket line, ones I’ve known and grown up with my whole life (some CTU and some not) and following very easily available analysis and demands, the short answer is, teaching isn’t a cakewalk, and most salaries aren’t enough. More importantly however, CTU teachers aren’t only talking about compensation. They’re talking about resources for students. Remember how stifling a hot unairconditioned classroom is on a 90 degree day? How easy do you think it is to keep a classroom of 40 engaged? How exactly should students be taught when books are unavailable? Fixing issues like these are just a few demands the CTU put forth to Mayor Emanuel and his administration. Moreover, in addition to scarce resources and a crumbling infrastructure, those teachers on the line have to educate students facing hunger, poverty, and violence in their daily lives.

Thousands of passionate and caring teachers have filled the streets for a week with parents and children standing with them in solidarity, marching not only on Chicago Public Schools headquarters, but in neighborhoods across the city. Pass any public school and chances are, you’ll find well crafted and clever signs with slogans like “Don’t starve our neighborhood schools” and “strike of force, not choice.” On the first day of the strike, teachers and supporters taped hundreds of notes to the street poles in front of City Hall saying why they’re fighting for Chicago’s schools. But rather than listen to the teachers, staff, students and parents, so many hang on the words of the mayor, top administrators, analysts or other “experts” who probably haven’t spent time in front of a classroom in years, if ever. At a rally in Grant Park this week, one speaker called the relationship between media and the mayor “public education by press release.” And so, much of the public still appears willing to take their word over that of experienced individuals from the field.

Read the full post at Diatribe Media.

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  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    the American edumacation system
    has long been a resource for the 1%’s
    babysitting for workers children, while their children are trained to be workers

    teachers have long been intellectual lackeys for the 1% too
    forcing propaganda gruel down the throats of the unwashed masses
    stand in a straight line, no talking, do your homework, eat this swill
    so I have a hard time feeling sympathy for them

    and given the internet, the curious can easily educate themselves
    and willing mentors can be easily obtained as guides through difficult subjects

    government employed teachers are going away
    corporate owned teachers will replace them
    at a higher cost to the tax payers
    and lower wages to the new corporate lackeys
    many of whom will be the present government teachers 

    • mike mac

       You sir, have no understanding of how education works. If anything you should support the teachers striking because one of the most important things they are striking against is to not be judged based on standardized test scores, which would be part of that gruel you dislike so much. As a teacher of 11 years, I can assure you that we spend more time trying to pry open the minds of our students and make them look at the world around them, than we do on dishing out thought control. TV and pop culture brainwash them long before they get to us, and we spend more time trying to deprogram than instill the group think.

      Yeah, the internet is fun, but students need guides to help them ask questions about their world, and not to just rely on the nonsense of the internet to keep their curiosity piqued. Students need a guide to help them understand the world around them, and to let them know what is worthwhile, and what needs to be looked at with a more critical eye. They need public school free from religious bias and open to all people for free. You can’t just push a kid into a library and tell them to learn. You need to let them know where others have failed, and where they can succeed.

      The teachers are also striking to keep corporate run charter schools from claiming more students than they already have, and that would also be in line with your concerns. You might want to actually look into what they are trying to do and not just fall into knee-jerk pseudo-intellectual snobbery. You’re just towing the party line of the other side man, and if the public education system goes down, the country goes with it.

      And oh yeah, I’m a lit teacher. I’ve spent 11 years teaching my students Vonnegut, Orwell, Huxley, and Shakespeare. I teach them to think for themselves and question the world around them. I do my best to expose them to the real world and what is waiting for them out there, and I fight back, like my fellow teachers, against political and corporate propaganda because my students are not just a paycheck to me. I was actually offer a corporate job by a friend of mine that paid the same, with better benefits and more time off, but I made a promise to my students that I would keep working for them, and not walk out on them because it got to hard. So it kind of pisses me off when I read comments like yours that lump all teachers together.

      • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

        VF: What is your greatest regret?
        George Carlin: Having wasted nine perfectly good years in school.

        • kowalityjesus

          george carlin is burning in hell

          • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

            I sure hope so
            heaven is such a dull place
            filled with uptight a-holes
            George would never fit in

            the greatest knock against Christianity’s salvation
            is that you have to spend eternity with fundamentalist nutjobs
            I’d prefer hell to that

          • kowalityjesus

            ha.  I tell him to enjoy his stay…

          • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

            no prob, lookin forward to passing on yer regards
            tell Jesus if you see Him
            he still owes me a pony

      • Earaches

        Sorry Mr. Mike, but Buzz is correct. The purpose of the public school system in the U.S. isn’t to educate kids but to prepare them to become corporate employees. This involves, to a great degree, under-educating them. You don’t go to school to learn how to start and run a business, you go to “learn” how to work for someone who does. You don’t go to school to learn how to become an investor, you go to “learn” how to work for the benefit of investors. This isn’t conjecture on my part, this is what the historical evidence supports. Teachers don’t understand this, but administrators do. The point of the public school system in the U.S. is to provide corporate america with a large, docile pool of low cost labor. It is an off-shoot of the schools that existed in company towns in the late 1880’s where the children of employees would be sent to compulsory schooling to be taught the values the owners of the company wanted their next generation of employees to have. A teacher in the public school system complaining that he is not allowed to help his students develop into individuals is like a GM worker complaining that he is not allowed to make solar panels – both need to recognize that they are working in the wrong “factory.”

        • mike mac

           You know, it’s funny. During the GOP primaries the wealthy, Republican elite were complaining that the public schools make people intelligent snobs who think they are special and wonderful and elite. Meanwhile people on the left are frequently complaining that school turn out close-minded corporate drones.

          What I wonder is how many of them actually have gone to public schools, talked to the teachers and the students, and actually understood what they do there. Is there some indoctrination in public schools? Sure, there is an effort by many groups to produce students who will be able to work in corporations or factories, or other areas. My response is that this is what the teachers are striking against, and to not support them in that strike is to miss the point of education entirely. As I said to Buzz, if you don’t want schools to be conformity factories, support teachers who want the freedom to not have to teach solely to the tests.

          At the end of the day I know I have opened the eyes and minds of my students. I have had students who thought they were destined for the corporate life change their minds and go off in other, perhaps more exciting, ways. They have come back to me and told me how my class changed their minds, and their outlook on life.  And while they are not the majority, they are not a small number either. To say that a teacher who wants to help students be more than drones is
          in the wrong profession is to simple give up on education all together,
          and leads me to wonder what your alternative would be?

          In the end it is easy to complain about schools, but if all you do is complain and you don’t actually go out and do something to change it, then you’re just part of the system as well.

          • kowalityjesus

            you rock mike, tell it like it is.  I had a teacher like you in high school for english.  I learned such great stuff; it definitely put me in a much more enlightened philosophical position, and with a uncommon capability in writing and syntax.  Thanks to you and Ms Spear.  You make America worth a damn. 

          • Andrew

            Did Ms. Spear spank you?

          • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

             > As I said to Buzz, if you don’t want schools to be conformity factories,
            support teachers who want the freedom to not have to teach solely to
            the tests.

            With what detector is a parent supposed use
            to snoop out the good teacher, pray tell?

            Once upon a time I had a 12 year old who wouldn’t do his homework. So I was called in for a pow-wow with his teachers. They wanted me to force him to do his homework; ya know, get with the program.

            My reply was to point out I already had a job and it paid me really well. So well that I paid more in taxes than they made. And I never did my homework and never grajiated college, which had somehow given me an advantage in a wold of compliant robots.

            I suggested that they pay my kid for his homework and that tractor tailors of homework would be pouring in. I informed them that my job was to motivate my clients to part with their money and their job was to motivate my son to part with free time.

            Being a bad student is a guaranty you’ll be successful, but neither does being a good student. And the best teachers are: experience, your own mind and its natural curiosity.

          • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

            > Republican elite were complaining that the public schools make people
            intelligent snobs who think they are special and wonderful and elite.

            This is one of the most basic techniques in propaganda.
            Sometimes called The Big Lie or Newspeak.
            Something like calling Der Homeland, The Land of the Free.
            Try reading Orwell’s 1984 for a more detailed explanation.

            No one in America thinks that the public edumacation system creates intelligent snobs, self-righteous foolishness is the obvious outcome of public edumacation.

          • Earaches

            Mike, I admire your fire and I’m glad there are teachers out there like you. Both my parents taught in the public school system and during my time there I met all kinds of teachers, good and apathetic both. Your job as a teacher has to be a tough, uphill battle. It is not made easier by the fact that you are not actually working in an educational institution. Public schools ARE conformity factories, they were DESIGNED to be conformity factories, and they will REMAIN conformity factories. They were designed to keep their “students” slightly undereducated – particularly financially and economically. This under – education being great boon to the economic and political powers that be, which is why it is allowed to exist in the first place.

            Your idea that giving up on the public school system is akin to giving up on education is misguided; public schools were never designed to educate in the first place. You could go and do what you do at a prison – and that would be noble – but it wouldn’t make the prison an educational institution, it doesn’t change the nature of the organization you are working within or its goals and designs. In this sense, as long as you remain a teacher in that system I’m willing to acknowledge you as an anarchist! But, I think at some point you will have to come to the realization that you are not teaching in the hallowed educational system that was sold to you when you began moving toward a career in teaching.

            Solutions? How about Montessori education? Or Waldorf schools? There are many healthier environments for – and methods of – learning than the current quagmire of public “education.”

            Also, even if it’s just to get a deeper understanding of the argument against compulsory public schooling, I recommend reading John Taylor Gatto’s The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, which you can read online here:

            http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/MomsPDFs/DDDoA.sml.pdf

          • Earaches

            Sorry, I meant Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, which I now can’t find a link to – DOH!

      • Facade

        You might be a good soul in a pile of crap but buzz is correct on that one. 

  • kowalityjesus

    you know what would make educator’s jobs easier?  bring back corporal punishment.

    • Andrew

      No capitals and an apostrophe in the wrong place… Place your hands, palms down, on your desk.

      • kowalityjesus

        Lol!  When my dad started at a high school in the early 80s you could still spank kids for being awful little shits.  If we didn’t have such a new age, litigious, and politically correct culture I think it would some good.

        • Lame name

          Bah your comments are awful. That capital punishment is what brought this mess. The present is a direct result of the past. Please just stop posting. A lot of teachers are worthless, once in a blue moon you find one that actually knows how to instruct, but they sure do expect recognition for being tape recorders. . Tell your dad he is a snuck. I didn’t see any exceptional writing skills, just plain old trolling which is also lacking creativity and that spunk that separates  mediocre  writers from the greats, go practice. Just because you think you know grammar and syntax does not mean you are creative, just means you are proof reader and probably an incompetent one.  

          • kowalityjesus

            too long didnt read

          • Jin The Ninja

            troll fail.

        • Andrew

          So you’re saying your father got hit enough?  What about you?

          • Jin The Ninja

             i think he’s saying he enjoys heavy-handed OTK from teacher-types.

          • kowalityjesus

            we all know when to apply “the force.”  I personally think that, for example this technique would really speak to inner city (read african) kids.  Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe I’m racist, or maybe I’m ahead of my time, or maybe I’m way behind my time. 

            myself I haven’t been priveleged enough to corporally chastise a miscreant, so I can’t profess to actually know how effective it is. It worked on me the 5-10 times I got spanked in my life.

          • Andrew

            Interestingly, your attitude is evidence why IMO it didn’t work on you.

          • Jin The Ninja

            you’re both behind the times and in another dimension.

          • kowalityjesus

            I’d like to see YOU put up with some of the things inner city teachers have to deal with.  Wait till you see where all of this “our education system is raising robots” chickenshit bullshit gets us.  Society needs a bottom line.

            I sympathize with your side of the argument, (even though somehow that didn’t happen to me), and that simple fact, coupled with the other fact that you are too juvenile to admit anyone else has a worthy opinion in the matter, makes me more right than you.

          • kowalityjesus

            oh, you moron.  My Dad STARTED TEACHING in the early eighties.  what the fuck did you think i was 8?

          • Andrew

            Your comments had me thinking 13 or 14.

          • kowalityjesus

            you should study humor, 

            it would have been funnier to say “you had me thinking 13 or 14″ 

            “your comments” is redundant because of course your only notion of me is from what I have written here and possibly what I have written under other articles.

          • Andrew

            Oh well.  I’ll check the class schedule of my local college to see if they’re holding any classes on humor at my local college next semester.

          • kowalityjesus

            sorry for calling you a moron by the way.  you’re not a moron I was wording the statement poorly, pregnant with preconceived implications.

  • Sad truth

    If you do not educate yourself, you do not have a chance.

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