Friday, July 8, 2011

SOS: US Teachers march on Washington this summer

It's been a nasty year for teachers in the US. From Bill Gates, to Charter Schools, to Obama's "Race for the Top" to the Tea Party - everywhere teachers have been criticized, demonized and held "accountable" for a system failing in spite of, not because of, teachers.

But beginning in January and the incredible show of solidarity in Wisconsin, teachers and parents are saying they've had enough.

This summer, teachers will gather from across the US to march on Washington. The rally is called "Save our Schools" and involves a broad spectrum of the education community including teachers, administrators, university professors, politicians, unions and grassroots association, parent groups all united in pushing back the so-called "reform" movement. They will meet on the lawn on July 30th, to reclaim American public education.

As they state on their website,

"We, a collection of people from all walks of life and every corner of this nation, embody a mixture of ideas and opinions regarding how we can improve educational opportunities for all children. We stand united by one belief – it’s time for teachers and parents to organize and reclaim control of our schools.

As concerned citizens, we demand an end to the destructive policies and rhetoric that have eroded confidence in our public schools, demoralized teachers, and reduced the education of too many of our children to nothing more than test preparation.

A well-educated society is essential to the future of the United States of America. Our students must have access to a fully funded, world-class public education system, and it is our responsibility to hold our government accountable for providing the means to achieve it. Please join us!"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why all the teacher bashing? To divert your attention

It's been a heady week of attacking BC teachers. Whether it be the college supposedly failing to keep bad teachers out of schools, or the demands of teachers in bargaining, it seems just about every CanWest paper and CKNW station is out to demonize teachers.

I'm not surprised.

They can't attack our primary demand - improved classroom conditions. They know that parents are onside when it comes to improving funding for schools and making classes smaller and more manageable. The recent court decision only makes this harder as a third party - a Supreme court judge, no less - found that we were correct and the government acted unconstitutionally.

So instead? Focus on the tiny number of "bad apples" (which, of course, every profession has). The most blatent was the Province's distasteful cartoon using a Hitler image in the role of substitute teacher. It's hard to express in words how disrespectful this is, but I loved the humourous comeback of one blogster: "Province's Nazi Cartoon all in good fun"

However these diversion tactics are really for another purpose - they want to paint teachers as the enemy (for wanting decent wages and working conditions) so that we don't notice the massive theft taking place of ordinary families by government, the banks and corporate Canada.

I'm no fan of the Fraser Institute, and I don't agree with the conclusion they reach, but this article was interesting to show how taxation has shifted to average Canadians ( Corporations and the wealthy used to pay *closer* to their fair share to support public services. As corporate taxes declined, governments relied on debt to finance these services. Now that the debt bubble has burst in so many places, it is the services themselves and the people who work as public servants that are under threat.

The answer is very simple. Don't cut services. Don't increase taxes for ordinary working families. Don't demonize public sector workers. Don't decimate the middle class. Tax those who can afford to pay.