There was a sign in Wisconsin that I can’t quite get out of my mind.
It wasn’t one of the uglier ones that hailed Gov. Scott Walker the new Hitler. No, it was a sign carried by a public school teacher that read, “I inspire your child.” Doesn’t that strike you as the height of egotism?
I wonder if the teacher really is one of those rare ones who inspire children. Sometimes, when we lionize teachers as heroes, I wonder if we aren’t really thinking of the public school teachers of yesteryear, those dragons who tortured us with algebra and forced us to diagram sentences.
I confess I can’t imagine Miss Scott–who was no fun whatsoever when she spotted a dangling modifier–or Dr. Sternberg–I’m tremble to write her name–who once gave me a failing grade on what I still maintain was a brilliant opus because of a minor error in punctuaion, going around with a placard touting their inspirational attributes. No, they taught.
Big Hollywood reminds us that one of the movies of the year that didn’t win an Oscar was about how uninspiring many school teachers are nowadays:
If you want to see first hand a heartbreaking and absolutely frightening look at the human toll of giving these corrupt teachers unions collective bargaining rights, I urge you again to see what is the most important film of last year, the unfairly Oscar-snubbed (for political reasons) “Waiting for Superman.” Written and directed by Davis Guggenheim, the proud, union-loving liberal who won an Oscar for his Global Warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” not only is this searing look at the devastation unions have brought down on our children an exceptionally well produced film, but it’s also a very personal work from a filmmaker who probably had a Road to Damascus moment. Guggenheim went in likely expecting to discover a public school system under assault by budget cuts and underpaid teachers. What he found was the complete opposite. That he told the truth, that he bucked the Leftist narrative and put what’s best for America’s children above his own preconceived notions and then picked a fight with one of the most ruthless unions in America, is to this Oscar winner’s eternal credit.
Examining the failed public school system through the eyes of a number of young children trapped in or headed for what Guggenheim calls “failure factories,” “Waiting for Superman” informs us that education funding is simply not the problem. In fact, when indexed for inflation, education funding has doubled over the last few decades and in return our schools have only gotten worse. The problem is, pure and simple, bad teachers who can’t be fired and the corrupt unions that use “collective bargaining” to make it nearly impossible to fire them. For example, from the New York Times:
“Waiting for ‘Superman” is filled with disturbing statistics. In Illinois, where one in 57 doctors loses his medical license and one in 97 lawyers loses his law license, only one in 2,500 teachers loses his credentials, because of union rules. The film briefly visits a “rubber room” in New York City where idle teachers accused of misconduct wait months and sometimes years for hearings while drawing full salaries at an annual cost of $65 million.
The piece is really on collective bargaining by unions-being portrayed as the newest American birthright-and it is collective bargaining that has allowed so many bad teachers to live well on the public’s dollars instead of being fired so that genuinely inspiring men and women can take their places.
It is my hope that the public will come to see the protests in Wisconsin for what they are: an attempt by a cosseted but often un-performing class of people to hold onto their privileges.
Anybody who has ever diagrammed a sentence should be able to figure out their game. But how many people today have diagrammed sentences?