Friday, September 21, 2012

The Chicago teachers are doing their job really well.

Now let's see what their job is.

By Michael Price

tThe Chicago teachers currently on strike are very good at their job. This statement is likely (certain) to be contested ao I will define my terms carefully to defend it.

By "teachers" I mean those in the Chicago school system whose job title includes the word "Teacher". By "their job" I mean that which they must do to avoid being fired. Clearly what you have to do to avoid being fired is your job. So my proposition can be restated as "Those whose job title includes the word teacher in the Chicago public school system are very good at doing what they need to do to avoid being fired.".

Some might object that it's very hard to get fired in the Chicago PS system, but why is that so? It is so because of the public perceptions of teachers. The teacher's union power is largely dependent on this. If every time teachers went on strike they were condenmed and the public demanded stern action and no concessions to those who held education* hostage the union would have much less power. Certainly the power of unions political contributions allows them to achieve some goals but which goals? If the public had their heart set on making teachers accountable then politicians would oblige them. Union leaders would be told "You can have your raises, your pensions etc. but on accountablility we can't budge.". And since their job is to get a deal they'd take it.

So clearly teachers have convinced the public that givng them job security is important for society. Not only are they convinced of the value of public school teachers in general but the value of any teacher who hasn't failed months of appeals.

That is their job after all, to convince people of their value. It is not to teach, or even to mind, the children . It is to make it politically impossible to disband or even substantiallly reduce, the public school system. Currently most people in America and the Western world generally believe that without public schools their children would be labouring in sweatshops. Creul taskmasters would tease them by offering them their newspaper on their 10 minute lunchbreak, knowing the proles can't read it. Truely this is a magnificant success on the part of the teachers (helped by their own steadfast belief in it) especially considering the historical reality. So disparage them all you want, but remember, they're probably better at their job than you are at yours.

* I'm well aware that teachers can only hold schooling hostage not education. The public perception is different.