Much ado in America

| November 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

A new report entitled ‘Trending Toward Reform: Teachers Speak on Unions and the Future of the Profession’, released in early September by Education Sector, a non-profit education think tank located in Washington, DC, reveals a changing attitude towards teacher unions. Forty three per cent of polled teachers said they believe unions could really help to improve teacher quality in American schools.

And, according to another new report, since 2009, 300 000 American educators have lost their jobs, radically increasing the teacher: pupil ratio. The report, released in late August by the White House and titled ‘Investing in Our Future: Returning Teachers to the Classroom’, is the first to examine the effects of teacher layoffs on class size over the last few years.

Class size isn’t the only point of difference between Obama and Romney, the two presidential hopefuls (the latter says it doesn’t matter). If elected, it seems that Romney, despite comments he made at the first presidential debate held at the University of Denver, will make huge cuts to the education budget, will consider reducing the size of the national education department, and will “tie federal funds directly to dramatic reforms that expand parental choice, invest in innovation, and reward teachers for their results instead of their tenure”.

Twenty-six thousand Chicago teachers were unwilling to wait for a new president and, led by the city’s teachers’ union, walked the picket lines in mid-September over contract negotiations, teacher evaluations, lack of proper air conditioning, and broader pedagogical issues such as class size and out-of-class services for underprivileged children.

And finally, Christopher L. Doyle, who recently won an award for teaching related to the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US, made a disquieting admission in a report for Ed.Week.org: “I came to the idea of teaching 9/11 and the war on terror in 2005 after realising that my upper-middle-class public school students knew very little about either. Seven years on, a trend has emerged: my classes’ moral outlook has hardened.

“The tough-mindedness of these kids shows in their comments: civilian death in war is justifiable collateral damage. Turning the other cheek to violence is and not applicable today. International tribunals of justice are futile. Accused captives might just as well be summarily executed. It does no good to protest an unjust war because those in power would be unresponsive or would punish dissenters. Such protest is also unpatriotic.”

Category: Summer 2012

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