I’m about to make another parallel: certain powers seek to regulate and monitor classrooms as they currently do women’s uteruses. There, I said it. The current struggle for reproductive rights, and the giant cultural leap backwards we are about to take, effectively mirrors the smothering paternal surveillance of teachers and their work. Let me explain.
History tells us that teaching and working with children has not been a chosen profession for a lot of men. Currently, only one out of every four K-12 teachers are men and the ratio drops to only one in 10 at the elementary level. The typical reasons have been low status of the profession, low salary relative to other careers available to men, gender stereotypes, and fear of child abuse accusations. To put it simply, working with kids is not seen as a very manly thing to do.
Men, however, typically dominate the bodies that control what teachers do, such as legislatures, departments of education, school boards, administrative posts, policy-making organizations, and analysts at think tanks. The recent paragon of no-nonsense education reform is the wealthy privateer, perhaps a software billionaire or hedge-fund manager. Be honest, can you think of any philanthropist of education that isn’t a man? I can’t.
A profession dominated by women and populated by children is perfect for paternal powers to exercise their lust for control, surveillance, punishment, and public humiliation, all in the name of the generic umbrella “reform.” This is why Secretary Duncan’s new grant competition RESPECT, which aims to boost teacher preparation and quality, is an embarrassment of Biblical proportions. Greater flexibility through accountability, progress through constant measurement, and collaboration via competition are oxymoronic principles that will continue to undermine the professional status of individual teachers.
I would like to add that all of the talk about the teaching force being drawn from the bottom of the intellectual bell curve fits in nicely with this thesis.
Leaders cannot openly berate women for being intellectually inferior like they did back in those days when they said women should not be able to vote because they would make dumb choices. So they take to attacking teachers as “stupid” instead, reflecting not just a little bit of unabashed sexism.
I pride myself on being a teacher, always have. Now the deformers are trying to punish me for it.
For your information, I went to the Bronx High School of Science before I was counseled out in the 9th grade for being a screw-up. I finished up at Brooklyn Technical High School, got ridiculously high marks on my SATs, graduated magna cum laude from college and then went right into teaching.
While not all of the people that were in the teacher education program with me in college were bright, the ones that are still teaching today are. The others mostly went off into the business world.
Teachers are not invited to shape education policy because they are seen as a bunch of dumb women. They need daddy Duncan and uncle Gates to tell them what is best. After all, they are from the “real world” (see: business world, which is probably the biggest fantasy world of all) and can make the hard-nosed decisions that the softy feminine teachers would not make.
Like closing inner-city schools and shuffling around all the children for yet the 50th time in their scholastic careers.
Like new evaluation regimes that use cold, hard, masculine data.
Like forcing every student in every grade to take bubble-in tests.
These are tough decisions but someone has to make them. Who better than a bunch of men who cut their teeth in the “real world”?
Even Michelle Rhee is celebrated for being icy and stoic, her more masculine traits.
Despite what some might think, data, numbers and needlessly complex value-added equations are not “real” by any stretch. Much like all the numbers that showed banks were recording record profits on the eve of the financial crisis, they have zero connection to reality.
The problem with education reform is that it seeks to turn children into myopic, short-sighted and amoral automatons. Not coincidentally, these are the same traits possessed by the banksters (all men) who pushed our economy off the cliff in 2008.
Men from the “real world” should stay out of education, just like they should stay out of policy over what happens in a woman’s uterus.