It would be great if we could all take a moment to say thanks to the 3.5 million teachers that are building our nation’s future one student at a time. After all, today kicks off Teacher Appreciation Week. Unfortunately, that’s not enough this year.
Along with our thanks, we need to raise our voices against the growing and harmful assault on teachers and unions and oppose the demonizing rhetoric and blatant mistruths being promoted for political gain.
Education luminaries Pedro Noguera and Michelle Fine’s recent article in The Nation details the assault that teachers and their unions are under on a number of fronts. Leading teacher critics include former D.C. schools’ chancellor Michelle Rhee and state leaders such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who slashed school aid by $1.2 billion while refusing to comply with a court-mandated formula for school funding equity – both often demonizing teachers to advance their case and neither making any substantive progress in their education systems during their tenure.
No doubt speaking for many colleagues across the nation, veteran California teacher Kathie Marshall doesn’t hold anything back in her Washington Post education blog about what outrages her these days—as she faces such attacks and, at the same time, staffing cutbacks in her high-needs middle school that is beating the odds and improving test results.
While blaming teachers’ unions may be popular with conservatives, it is wrong, says Diane Ravitch, author of The Life and Death of the Great American School System. As she pointed out in a recent National Public Radio interview. “[Unions] are not the problem. The state with the highest scores on the national test, that state is Massachusetts, which is 100 percent union. The nation with the highest scores in the world is Finland, which is 100 percent union.”
The Opportunity to Learn Campaign expresses deep appreciation to all the teachers who are working so hard every day. And we’re proud to be a part of what Noguera and Fine call “…the rumble of solidarity, with parents, teachers, labor and youth taking back what is rightfully theirs—public schools and democratic public education.”