As a teacher, I commend the libertarian approach of ABC’s John Stossel, and it is interesting that as I described that in earlierÃ?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½dispatches, the indignant responses were most surprising.
Stossel has been blamed for selecting only those people and topics that fit into his own “world view”. Well, that goes for almost any communicaster out there – Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, Hannity and Colmes (Fox News), Bill Maher (HBO), Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½ and the latest dingbat , Steven Colbert, he of the now infamous roast of Presdient Bush in front of a Washington media dinner crowd. You name them. As libertarian-leaning myself, it is no wonder that, in my mind, Stossel stands out starkly on the landscape of mediocrity that is broadcast journalism..
Almost all of Stossel’s education material points out that the bureaucracy, not the teacher, is the primary source of the “stupidity” of current public education.
Being a teacher is the most ridiculously impossible job in the world. Numbers are the biggest enemy; how can any teacher deal with 34 children (currently the limit in California’s system at 5th-12th grade levels) per classroom? Since “performing groups” have no limitation, I am faced with, in my second period choir class, 45 students, 9th-12th grade. I do what I can, but it is not possible to succeed against those numbers.
There was some relief in California at the K-3rd level when class sizes were reduced to 20 students per class. Difficult but not impossible. However, the 4th-graders get the double whammy – older, more restless children and 34 of them instead of 20! And do the fourth-grade teachers get paid more? Not!
Just consider the piece Stossel did on teacher pay (aired May 12). The protesting teachers were quoted as making $60,000, $85,000, $90,000 a year – good salaries my any standard. I made $50,000 this year and would have been in line for more next year, but the distrist is cutting my position and I might have to go back into the print-media field at two-thirds the salary (I guess I can blog to make up the void).
Bottom line: Teaching salaries aren’t that bad right now, especially in California. But teachers’ working conditions, with regard to physical plant (run-down), dangerous criminals amidst the decent students, lack of any parental knowledge (much less support) of what is going on in schools, and the non-English speaking students population that has exploded in recent years, make for a pressure-cooker that no human being can long endure.
Hence, I am finishing what will likely be my last year as a teacher, and I can say I will not miss it. I would prefer being cursed by a news source or slam-dunked by a city editor rather than being humiliated by 300 teenagers daily for 184 days that a school year entails.
Plus it’s simply dangerous being a teacher. Students tend to delight in “setting up” teachers they don’t like and getting those teachers tied up in administrative tangles (or even legal ones). Is it any wonder that the hot young blond female teachers are seducing the young males these days? It’s not the character of the people, it is the repressive and corrupted system that is to blame.
Locally there is a high-profile trial in which a former student-athlete who just graduated with a teaching credential and returned to his alma mater to teach (he’s 25 now and was 23 when he started as a teacher), was nailed to the wall for becoming sexually involved with underage girls – when he was 20, some five years ago! The girls were 17, one of them 17 years, 10 months at the time of the alleged encounters. Seems that he became crossthreaded with one of his liaisons, and she dug up the old incidents and reported him to the school despite the fact she was now 21 and well into adulthood.
So this male teacher has already lost everything. In education, all it takes is the allegation to get you fired (forget the teachers’ union), and you’re especially vulnerable if you’re a male teacher because the in the female world of public education (78 percent of all public school teachers in America are female, 90 percent at the elementary level), men are the despised outcasts.
And that leaves us with nothing, and I mean nothing, for boys in public schools. It is no wonder boys are slipping, or I should say free-falling, with regard to student achievement. And that is why boys are giving up on college at all – giving up in droves because they have given up competing against girls in the world of higher education.
What a great profession, education. John Stossel needs to do more, not fewer, reports on the “stupidity” of American schools.