Occupy Public Education

Public education is under seige by paperwork- and test-obsessed bureaucrats, union-busters and privatization.

15 thoughts on “Occupy Public Education

  1. One of the truly funny things about Occupy is how it’s already been branded, so it can be meaninglessly applied to any domain.

    Occupy Education!
    Occupy the Election!
    Occupy the Senate!
    Occupy the House!
    Occupy Agriculture!
    Occupy Porn!
    Occupy Occupy!

    All as meaningless as the first, Occupy Wall Street. Pretty soon the recursion will be complete and we’ll hear: “Hey Hey Ho Ho This Occupy Has Got To Go!”

  2. Well you got the first two right anyway. Paperwork and believing that the purpose of school is testing. Hey just like an assembly line, you test quality at various points and if it doesn’t meet quality…. Well what happens to a defective part? Basically the same way here. You send the difficult kids to special ed to fail.

  3. Beg to differ, but teacher’s unions are some of the strongest unions out there. They create byzantine work rules that will kill off any creative teachers in about ten years. At that time the teacher will quit the profession or become another clock puncher.

    Who is actually getting pepper sprayed by the system?

    Why the students of course! By the time they hit middle school/junior high they have either been beaten into compliance with the system or are discarded by the system. Either way, real education has stopped and any creative effort by the student is summarily stomped down.

    So, you say you want some education? Well, you know, that will take a real revolution and a complete revamping of all aspects of the education system.

    Y’all up for that, cause I am.

  4. @nom-de-jour

    Sorry, but you’re wrong about teacher’s unions squelching creative teachers, just the opposite is true. Without the unions, teachers would be worked to death (they almost are with the unions) and classroom teaching would suffer enormously. I teach at a public university, and am represented by a union, and my father worked in the NYC public schools, this I know from experience. You are, however, right that we need a real revolution, and not just in the public schools. Personally I think a good start would be to make private schools illegal, and then make sure that rich kids can’t stay in their neighborhood schools – see how long it takes for the rich to deal with the schools when their kids actually have to attend them.

    FYI, even with the completely messed up system, good things happen. My son and daughter go to magnet schools, which in my state actually get some reasonable funding, including transport. My son’s school, 6 – 12 grade, is half suburban kids and half city kids, and is truly wonderful for all of them. And unlike his neighbor’s in our upscale suburb, he actually knows black and hispanic kids. True story, he was telling me about looking at his friends’ (from town, not school) yearbook, and all he said he could think looking at the pictures was “cracker, cracker, cracker…” It made my heart sing 🙂

  5. @suetonius17

    I am glad you are in a good district.

    As for unions promoting good teachers, locally they protect the rank and file. Once they have tenure, it is the march to pension. My kids have had teachers who do absolutely nothing in class except assign reading, give a test supplied by the book company, and then correct them with no discussion of what was wrong with answers. There are department nights that teachers skip because it is not in the contract.

    They have also had great teachers too, but they are clearly in the minority. The majority are in teaching for the hours, the pay, and the benefits.

    Didn’t used to be that way. My dad was president of the local AFT where I grew up (not where I am at now) back in the sixties and seventies when teachers WERE over-worked and under-paid. He worked hard to change that situation where teachers were looked at as a second income or old maid subsistence worker. He was one of the people who wanted to teach and support his family, so he worked two jobs during the school year and two in the summers while he went to get his Master’s degree.

    The pendulum has swung and teachers are paid a fairly decent wage, have opportunities to advance, and don’t have to worry about having to go out after school to shovel shit.

    We need reform.

  6. Unions are fine, I have nothing against them, but most unions are owned by money whores. Liberals say conservatives killed the Union, Only if conservatives were put in charge of them.

  7. @nom du jour

    Don’t you think that singling out just one factor in a complex situation as the sole cause of something is just a tad reductive? You describe teacher apathy and lay the blame solely on unions? Could it be that perhaps other factors such as how the school system is organized or the rules created by the school boards or any other number of factors that could be contributing to the lack of motivation? This incidentally includes the public perception of teachers. Or do you think that if the unions were suddenly removed — everything else staying the same — your education system would be suddenly great? Also, perhaps if unions weren’t under constant attack, some positive changes to unions could be made and some positive changes to the educational system could follow.

    People who attack unions just need a scapegoat — lay the blame for everything on one thing. It’s much simpler this way instead of having to face the fact that the system as a whole is not working.

  8. I was basing my rant on the cartoon.

    Unions are one part of the problem with education in this country. Other factors: bad administration on all levels, a factory school model that died somewhere in the last century, curriculum driven by national standards written by textbook companies, parents who don’t give a shit, employers who don’t work with schools on what is needed for a future work force, an outdated summers off model (which is based more on cholera out breaks than on children on the farm), and funding models so byzantine that people who write tax code toss their hands up in frustration when they try to figure out the budget.

    You want a revolution? Reform schools now!

  9. @nom

    You don’t start a war by shooting at your own side. There are, of course, problems with the unions, and with teachers. But the real problems are with the few who actually OWN everything. Fighting for democratic progressive unions is great, but it’s an INTERNAL fight – if a union goes on strike, you honor it, no matter what the union tops are like.

    And if you think teacher’s aren’t overworked and underpaid, I suggest you try teaching, even in a cushy suburb.

  10. @ nom du jour

    I agree with your last post. And, as suetonius17 wrote, you don’t start reforming the education by shooting at your own side.

    The biggest problem with education is the application of the business model to education (same as the problem with health care). At some point we as a society became convinced somehow that commodifying education (and knowledge) makes sense. The problem extends through all levels of education.

    @ suetonius17

    There’s a great article about the problems with education in Harper’s from September 2011: “Getting schooled: The re-education of an American teacher” by Garret Keizer. The last part of your post reminded me of that essay.

  11. Amazing how some people in the United States can be led – tenderly by the nose, as asses are – to believe the corporate propaganda that claims that the ills suffered by the United States are due to unions – that in the country which, with the sole exception of France (the model promoted by all true conservatives) boasts the lowest degree of unionisation in the OECD. Mit Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens….


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