Teachers quitting because ... politics

CMBright

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In theory, we are talking about teachers quitting in droves because of politics. Which seems to have wandered down into a political rabbit warren.
 

Introversion

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Obama was a conservative Democract. Very much a middle-of-the-road guy.
Obama would’ve made a very fine Republican in the 1950s. Except for that being black thing.

I don’t think most Americans understand how extremely rightwing the country’s laws and policies are, as compared to most of the rest of the world? We’ve been fed rightwing-slanted, jingoistic propaganda for generations about our supposed superiority on the world stage, about virtually any way you choose to measure “better”, that too many of us not only believe uncritically but will fight hard against anyone who dares be critical.

And, being a cis white guy, I had the luxury of growing up believing that swallop. I doubt any POC here ever thought America was fair, or superior in anything but military might?

ETA: Sorry to contribute to the off-topicking. I’ll stop.
 

Roxxsmom

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The rage over the school closures during covid illustrates another purpose too: free child care. And don't get me wrong, in a country without affordable day care, and most parents work outside the home, it's needed and women's participation in the work force declined during Covid. But sometimes I felt this was all people (who weren't educators or pediatricians) cared about during the school closures--the loss of workers to keep our goods and services flowing.

The idea that education is for more than just learning job skills or preparing one for the next level of education (and nowadays it does neither of those things terribly well either) has really fallen out of favor. So has the idea that some things are valuable because they're nice, or good, or right. Even environmental conservation has to be couched in terms of dollars and cents, the value of species and ecosystems to humans, instead of the staggering idea that we're not the only species on the planet with a right to exist, so maybe we should stop acting like we are.

Some of this is because people on the Left have learned it's dangerous to talk about issues in terms of right and wrong. After all, that's what the Right is doing when it tells us we can't have abortions, or marry whomever we choose, or express our genders however we choose. So we've had to take the tack that values are personal and the government shouldn't legislate morality. If we start arguing we should spend more on education to turn people into better, more ethical, inquisitive, and generally informed/thoughtful citizens, they'll call us hypocrites and accuse us of brainwashing their kids (hey wait, they already are doing this). So we have to pretend everything we support is about money and productivity and competitiveness. Not that politicians the Left aren't influenced by hyper capitalistic thinking anyway, since they also depend on corporate donors. The Citizens United ruling scrapped any hopes of limiting money in politics, so you have to suck up to corporations and billionaires to have a prayer of winning an election.

Meanwhile, much of what was enjoyable about teaching is being whittled away. I have the good fortune to be teaching at a college instead of K-12, so we still have the concept of academic freedom and some latitude in how we organize our classes and employ pedagogy, and even wrt emphasis of material within the approved curriculum. For now. But that's being challenged too, sometimes by our fellow faculty even. Cue the snide, "You guys still give exams?" from someone who does not teach in the natural sciences division.

I've mentioned before how depressing it is to have the feeling that no one is home at our college district, that no one is taking care of the things that are supposed to operate in the background.

For instance, our facilities and classrooms are dirty, things don't get fixed promptly (or at all) when they break, even when it's a safety issue (like a door that won't lock or unlock properly, and there is a drinking fountain in a new building on campus that has been covered with police tape for two weeks now without being fixed). We're supposed to call campus police if there is an emergency on campus, but they don't always answer their phone! in reality, we all know we need to just dial 911 and accept being chewed out for it later. Faculty wait months, or even years, to get keys they need to facilities or even their own offices (we're supposed to call facilities maintenance or campus police to let us in, but they don't answer their phones).

And especially disturbingly, a lockdown happened on one of our campuses last week, and there was no follow up after the initial announcement or explanation of what happened or why (when the lockdown was lifted several hours later) they thought the threat was resolved (the local paper even says they have gotten no statement from campus police).

Faculty and staff are retiring, and even dying (seriously--my spouse's old department chair died unexpectedly, and they can't get approval for a new faculty position, not even a full-time temp), without being replaced. We even had a campus president of instruction quit at one of the colleges, likely due in part to a barrage of racist harassment and threats she received.

All this during a time when the state coffers were full and education spending was supposed to be prioritized. I dread what things will be like in the next budgetary year, where we will likely have a shortfall and a slowing economy. When the chancellor does speak to the faculty now, as at convocation at the beginning of the semester, it's to chastise us about equity concerns without any substance or opportunity to ask questions or air concerns the way there used to be. The academic senate actually published a white paper airing their grievances against our chancellor but there has been absolutely zero response to this!

I actually considered contacting my local regent with some of my concerns about the lack of communication and coordination on campus, but after doing a web search to find out who she is I can find absolutely no way on the web to contact her or anyone on the board of regents. Lots of links to her name and references to her past political career, but no email, phone, or mailing address to write.

Of course these are issues K-12 teachers have been facing for a long time (remember all the stories about leaking roofs and rotting rodents in gymnasiums that never get fixed or removed), and it's getting worse everywhere. Now they can even get fired (maybe even prosecuted) in some states for mentioning that LGBTQ people exist or that our country has a history of racism!

If I were just starting out teaching in this district now, I wouldn't want to stay. And if other colleges were the same, I probably would have to find something else to do with my Ph.D. in comparative/integrative physiology, or go back to school and get a more practical degree, like psychology or English Lit. ;)
 
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Introversion

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If we start saying we should provide education in order to turn people into better, more ethical, inquisitive, and generally informed/thoughtful citizens, they'll call us hypocrites. So we have to pretend everything we support is about money.
Hmm. I tend to use the dollars & cents argument with conservatives when it undercuts their attacks on worthy programs, because their argument to privatize everything is usually based on purported savings.
 

CMBright

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Hmm. I tend to use the dollars & cents argument with conservatives when it undercuts their attacks on worthy programs, because their argument to privatize everything is usually based on purported savings.

Unfortunately, that way leads to arguments for private prison to use as labor pools to generate income. Which has a different set of problems. There are reasons why the US tries to rein in capitalism.

Since we are talking schools and teachers, Simpsons did it. At a summer camp rather than a school. Come to think of it, I would not be surprised if one of the treehouse of horror episodes had schools used as labor camps. I don't remember one, but I haven't watched every episode.
 
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Introversion

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Unfortunately, that way leads to arguments for private prison to use as labor pools to generate income. Which has a different set of problems. There are reasons why the US tries to rein in capitalism.
True, but I didn’t say I take that tact on everything. 😅 There are some arguments I simply won’t engage on — not going to consider whether any forms of slavery make economic sense, because they’re just evil.

I don't remember one, but I haven't watched every episode.
I forgive you. 😉
 

dickson

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Public education in the US was a bulwark against fascism, and it still is. The fascists wouldn't be working so hard to dismantle it if it was somehow working in their favor.

University education varies so widely from school to school I think it's hard to make blanket statements as to its purpose. For some kids, it's less job training than a soft path to adult responsibilities. For others it's absolutely a vocational program. It's also, for a lot of kids, the first time they're exposed to communities different than the ones they grew up in.
My university experience was the first time I found myself in a community that did not regard me as some kind of freak.
 

Roxxsmom

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You're sayin' it's bad to have one's thinking in an identifiable direction shaped by teachers? News to me. My thinking was shaped by my teachers in the direction of helping others. I call that a good thing.
But which others? There is some leeway there. Not arguing against the idea that some values should be included in school. People need to learn how to be good citizens. This includes education in things like science, history, civics, and yes even the arts and and culture (which triggers debates over which works, and by whom, should be presented as worthy representatives). Some of my Conservative friends and family insist that schools is all about teaching basic skills, like reading, writing, and math. But even those don't exist in a vacuum, as kids learn better when these "basic skills" are applied to things that have relevance to them as individuals. You can't teach reading without giving kids something to read.

In these times it does get contentious, since people disagree vehemently about what citizenship elements, or what subjects are most relevant, important or even appropriate for kids at varying ages.
Ooooo... now you're tickling me in my horror fan center! Capital Letter Monsters! Narrow elitist warmongering cliques of billionaire control freaks!
But that would mean we could merge this with the Elon Musk thread.
 
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Fi Webster

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But which others? There is some leeway there. Not arguing against the idea that some values should be included in school.

Oh, I was just giving a personal example of how my thinking had been "shaped in an identifiable direction."

Specifically, by medical school. I entered med school as a chemistry geek with no innate drive toward helping sick people. Four years later, I was dedicated to being a healer. Med school actually pulled off the ostensible purpose of med school: it turned me into a doctor.

ETA: For me, deploying my skills to help others is fun. I don't think of it as a value.

Training —> skill set —> fun.

It's always about the fun.
 
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mccardey

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But which others? There is some leeway there. Not arguing against the idea that some values should be included in school.
Zackly. There are some schools down here that shape minds in what I consider to be very unfortunate ways.

I think we should send kids back to the fields till we get that stuff sorted out...
 
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Roxxsmom

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Zackly. There are some schools down here that shape minds in what I consider to be very unfortunate ways.

I think we should send kids back to the fields till we get that stuff sorted out...
Or the factories. Kids need to learn the value of a buck and support their families, darn it.

Actually, now that I think of it, there have been Conservatives in this country who have made this kind of argument, and in a non ironic way. I remember this coming up, even back in the 90s.
 

Tiger1b

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Exactly my point. Schools attempt to shape thinking, critical or not, in identifiable directions. They do not always succeed, and this is often a good thing.
It’s also often a good thing. Math, science and language proficiency are identifiable directions as are tools that teach students how to navigate through life as adults.

I’d argue that a fundamental purpose of education is to provide such tools.

May I ask what kind of school you would prefer? How should a good school work?
 
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Unimportant

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It’s also often a good thing. Math, science and language proficiency are identifiable directions as are tools that teach students how to navigate through life as adults.

I’d argue that a fundamental purpose of education is to provide such tools.

May I ask what kind of school you would prefer? How should a good school work?
Tiger, he won't be able to reply to your questions.

Myself, I prefer a school where there is always free pizza. Without pineapple.
 

Tiger1b

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As a former teacher, curriculum designer and teacher-trainer, I am saying that top-down imposition of educational structures is elitist. It is inherently undemocratic. Please read more carefully.
Well, parents should all pull their kids out until someone, somewhere does something. They can take your word for it.