‘Won’t Back Down’ stars undaunted in face of union protests of school-choice movie

posted at 2:01 pm on September 27, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

This week actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis learned that making a movie about going up against teachers’ unions to save a failing public school means going up against teachers’ unions in real life, too. Protesters gathered at the New York and L.A. premieres of “Won’t Back Down,” a film about a pair of determined moms— one a bartender and one a teacher— who take on apathetic teachers, bullying bureaucrats, and yes, entrenched teachers unions to turn around their children’s failing public school. “Won’t Back Down” opens everywhere Friday.

The film is based on “parent trigger” laws— one of which passed in California in 2010— that allow parents to band together to choose new governance for a failing public school. The film gives the “Norma Rae” treatment to a couple of strong, sympathetic women on the other side of a union battle, and the usual suspects aren’t happy about it. “Won’t Back Down” inspired a strongly worded letter from American Federation of Teachers head Randi Weingarten in August, accusing the film of “[u]sing the most blatant stereotypes and caricatures I have ever seen – even worse than those in Waiting for ‘Superman’ – the film affixes blame on the wrong culprit: America’s teachers unions.”

A screening at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. also drew protests.

The stars of the film, which also features Oscar-winner Holly Hunter, are undeterred by the controversy. Speaking on the “Today” show Monday, Davis said:

“I welcome protests. I welcome discourse; I think discourse is a good thing. I think it spearheads change…. And you know what, in this movie the teacher at the end of the day is the hero. They save the day. And it’s a system that’s broken, that needs to be fixed.”

Gyllenhaal, walking the red carpet in New York, said the message of the movie is about kids, not teachers unions:

“If the adults in this situation are disagreeing to such a point that we are not making the changes that we need to make in order to serve our kids, then we are all failing.”

Protesters claim the movie oversimplifies a complicated issue and offers one-dimensional representations of teachers and unions, but according to the L.A. Times, the film “features plenty of committed teachers, some pro-union, others critical of its policies, and a bureaucrat (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) willing to help the activists in their cause.”

“I am surprised,” said producer Mark Johnson of the early negative response to the movie. “Maybe I’ve been naive about this, but I think it’s a David and Goliath story: two women, two mothers from completely different backgrounds who get involved in trying to do something about the sorry state of this particular school.”

School reformer and former D.C. Superintendent Michelle Rhee wasn’t so surprised:

“For an average person, it’s not an anti-union movie at all,” she says…“It did not shock me. It shocked a lot of the people from the movie, the actresses and [director] Daniel Barnz,” she says. “I’ve been in this game for a while. I knew it would cause a lot of controversy.”

I suspect the problem for Weingarten and her fellow travelers is not that the film “affixes blame…on teachers unions,” but that it affixes any blame on them at all. It also may rankle a tad that the Walden Media-backed film uses a favorite phrase of Obama’s in the service of school choice when Gyllenhaal’s character tells a crowd of parents, “You have to be the change you want to see!” Of course the education problems in this country are complicated, especially in low-income schools. Of course there are phenomenal teachers in public schools. I went to those schools and was raised by one of those teachers. But the message from teachers unions, on “Waiting for Superman” and now “Won’t Back Down,” is that the problems are so complex and teachers so infallible that no one can possibly do them justice on film.

Nonsense. Parents like the ones in “Won’t Back Down” exist, and they deserve to have their story told. Perhaps glorifying stories of determined, involved parents in low-income schools will inspire more of them, which would help students and teachers alike. I’ve watched Virginia Walden Ford fight for 15 years for school choice in Washington, D.C., after a scholarship to a private school from a benevolent neighbor changed her son’s life. Walden Ford was one of a small, hand-picked wave of black students who integrated the Little Rock, Ark. schools on the heels of the Little Rock Nine in the early ’60s, and she likens the fight for equal opportunity in education today to the fight she began in her childhood.

Years after her son graduated, Walden Ford is still a full-time activist on behalf of the District’s poor and minority students, most recently standing up to a Democratic Congress and president determined to strip away the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship for 1,700 students. Those scholarships, almost all of which go to low-income, minority students, were taken away as a favor to well-heeled teachers unions who don’t appreciate any competition, regardless of how much it helps kids. And, it does help:

“This isn’t just noise or random variation. This is a true difference,” said Patrick Wolf, the University of Arkansas professor who oversaw the three-year study. “In my opinion, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program has met a tough standard for efficacy in serving low-income students.”

Hollywood needs its rich, powerful antagonists to play foil to its plucky, sympathetic heroes. Just ask corporations and oil men. If teachers unions don’t like being cast in the role, they shouldn’t play it so readily in real life.

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2 more people to boycott..
/BISHOP!

Khun Joe on September 27, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Go get ‘em Moms!!

Scrumpy on September 27, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Teachers union greed is leading to an American Dark Age of ignorance and illiteracy.

Exactly how Barack HUSSEIN Obama and the National Socialist Democrat Party wants it!

wildcat72 on September 27, 2012 at 2:04 PM

I was surprised when I saw the trailer for this before 2016: Obama’s America. Not so much that it was made in the first place. It looks like an indie film, so conservatives could’ve easily come up with the cash to get it produced. But that it stars Maggie Gyllenhaal who’s a big-time lib(as is her brother). After appearing in the The Dark Knight and now Won’t Back Down, maybe there’s a conservative inner voice trying to break free.

Doughboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:06 PM

They remind me of certain protestors.

tomas on September 27, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Is Matt Damon in this, too?

;O)

OhEssYouCowboys on September 27, 2012 at 2:08 PM

did those protesters get the free phones too???…

PatriotRider on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

I may have to go see this.

MikeknaJ on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

OT: Bibi is speaking at the UN. What a great leader.

BuckeyeSam on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Saw the trailer for this on TV. Cool!

22044 on September 27, 2012 at 2:13 PM

May the teachers unions and the AARP be fully destroyed. They are foils for the leftist marxists.

They keep the stupid in the modern day plantations, at the cost of the children and the elderly in the stupid groups.

They are both arms of the marxist/socialist thugs.

Schadenfreude on September 27, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Interesting.

She is a hard core self-described “Progressive Liberal”

Now she will see what her fellow Progressives will do when you do not agree with them and fight them.

Prepare for the long haul Madge! It’s gonna’ be a hate fest of intolerance!

Opposite Day on September 27, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Good for them.

kingsjester on September 27, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Obligatory

22044 on September 27, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Leftists don’t care about the children. They like their constituents kept ignorant, in modern day ‘slavery’, so long as they vote D.

It is the travesty of today.

Schadenfreude on September 27, 2012 at 2:16 PM

These folks must have guilty conscientious because most of these types of movies don’t specify a villain.

Cindy Munford on September 27, 2012 at 2:17 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Agreed, it’s almost as bad as the rightie War on Women, War on Gays, War on Blacks, War on Children, and War on Liberal Cause of the Day.

Bishop on September 27, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Maggie Gyllenhaal is damn sexy.

Dork B. on September 27, 2012 at 2:20 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Ha Ha!

You forgot the sarc tag

Ditkaca on September 27, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Will all persons who participated in the production of the movie get bodyguards?

listens2glenn on September 27, 2012 at 2:23 PM

A Dem that puts their kids in a public school, becomes a Republican

faraway on September 27, 2012 at 2:23 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

uh … what war on teachers? Unions and liberal education policies do not equal teachers.

darwin on September 27, 2012 at 2:23 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Um, did you read any of MKH’s post?

LtGenRob on September 27, 2012 at 2:25 PM

When I first saw this trailer, I thought that surely there must be a twist in the movie somewhere……..but no, it seems the liberals have actually managed to make a movie that goes against everything they themselves publicly support while being completely unaware of that fact.

tdpwells on September 27, 2012 at 2:27 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

How many times does it have to be stated that the “righty” (and “lefty,” if you look at some of the people involved with this film as well as “Waiting for Superman”) war is with incompetent teachers who are rewarded for their incompetence with a protected position for the duration of their careers. How is it “going too far” to make sure that our taxpayer dollars pay the salaries of teachers who are actually good at what they do? Sheesh.

And if I hear one more topic/issue being termed a “war” I’m going to scream. Why is it that the people who tend to be the most anti-war are the first ones to label any kind of issue (real or imagined) a “war?” Anyone??? Bueller?

pianomomma on September 27, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Leftists don’t care about the children. They like their constituents kept ignorant, in modern day ‘slavery’, so long as they vote D.

The children are useful as union bargaining chips, the means of sucking up more local, state and federal taxpayer money to local school districts mostly for the benefit of those in the teachers unions and the bloated school bureaucracies and to be kept ignorant members of the collective indoctrinated to continue supporting and pursuing the same cycle of failure.

hawkeye54 on September 27, 2012 at 2:29 PM

I’m so sick of public schools.

Axion on September 27, 2012 at 2:29 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012

How does anything in this post or this movie represent a “full on war on teachers?” It’s about a movie about parents joining with TEACHERS to fix a school. The problem with teachers unions is that they, demonstrably, over and over again, protect teachers and methods that are demonstrably NOT working over any innovation that might lose them power. When you see it up close and personal, as I did in D.C., it can indeed be ugly the ferocity with which they’ll fight a program shown to work. It doesn’t mean there are no good teachers or no good people in unions (the love interest in the movie is unabashedly pro-union, by the way). I went to low-income public schools, and there are both some good teachers and “some challenges,” as you put it. The tragedy is that failure to address these “challenges,” which are huge and systemic, doesn’t hurt people like me as much as it does others who don’t have the resources my family did (including an incredible teacher as a mom) to supplement what I was getting in school. The rigidity of teachers unions in the face of even modest reforms is a full on war on students, and it doesn’t make me a teacher-hater to point it out.

Mary Katharine Ham on September 27, 2012 at 2:29 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM
Um, did you read any of MKH’s post?

LtGenRob on September 27, 2012 at 2:25 PM

War on Comprehension?

Ditkaca on September 27, 2012 at 2:30 PM

The Left, eating their own.

Delicious.

Anybody need Tabasco, darlings?

M240H on September 27, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Oh please, MKH, get a clue.

Rusty Allen on September 27, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Another right-wing hate movie that isn’t really free speech, so it should be boycotted if not outright banned. For the children, of course!

Love,
The Left

Liam on September 27, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Hollywood needs its rich, powerful antagonists to play foil to its plucky, sympathetic heroes. Just ask corporations and oil men. If teachers unions don’t like being cast in the role, they shouldn’t play it so readily in real life.

Ha!! nice one, MKH

ted c on September 27, 2012 at 2:34 PM

I am surprised,” said producer Mark Johnson of the early negative response to the movie. “Maybe I’ve been naive about this,

No “maybe” about it.

I love it when liberals stumble face first into the edifice of their own conceits. This is the world you created. I’m glad you’re in the fight, but just be clear how it all started and what it’s about — power.

rrpjr on September 27, 2012 at 2:35 PM

…the Walden Media-backed film uses an Obama slogan in the service of school choice when Gyllenhaal’s character tells a crowd of parents, “You have to be the change you want to see!”

Um, Obama?

Teaching #5: We must become the change we want to see in the world. — Mahatma Gandhi

SomeCallMeJohn on September 27, 2012 at 2:35 PM

For the first time in my adult life, Maggie Gyllenhaal looks gooooooooooood

ellesar04 on September 27, 2012 at 2:35 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Seriously, did you read? Did you miss:

according to the L.A. Times, the film “features plenty of committed teachers, some pro-union, others critical of its policies, and a bureaucrat (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) willing to help the activists in their cause.”

If you include the “plenty of committed teachers” then perhaps their in a war against themselves, or righties control teachers.

Which is it?

itsspideyman on September 27, 2012 at 2:36 PM

i’m disappointed in you Big Tuna…very disappointed

Matt Vespa on September 27, 2012 at 2:37 PM

woops! wrong film – but good for them

Matt Vespa on September 27, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Which will be the bigger hit: This movie, or Promised Land?

Liam on September 27, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Schadenfreude on September 27, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Well said, indeed, and excellent point in linking them together, as well.

thatsafactjack on September 27, 2012 at 2:38 PM

i’m disappointed in you Big Tuna…very disappointed

Matt Vespa on September 27, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Intended for the Matt Damon thread?

22044 on September 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM

‘Won’t Back Down’ stars undaunted won’t back down in face of union protests of school-choice movie

C’mon!

yubley on September 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM

The film is based on “parent trigger” laws

Dog whistle!!!! We all know what “trigger” rhymes with…

Glenn Jericho on September 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM

…so I guess this means my bride is going to make me go see this with her…I’ll want to wait till it comes out on video…and her thumb and finger will be pulling my ear as I go out the door…with “NOW” ringing in my ear! Support them now…not later.

KOOLAID2 on September 27, 2012 at 2:40 PM

My daughter got little attention in school. Her teachers did not care if she completed her homework, passed the tests, or participated in class. They did care that she showed up as a “body” count for funding. After failing one grade, I pulled her out and home schooled her. In 18 months, she completed two years of school. Now, back on track, she is in Texas in a wonderful school that actually cares. We will see how this one turns out.

There are parents who care what happens, and I am sick of the schools marginalizing the ones that do. Sure there are parents who use school as a day care, got it. I am not one of those, and having a choice to pull my kid out and put her in another school (not bound by address) that actually gives a damn is my right. It is my money, not the schools.

Monopolies are broken up and outlawed in business, except for school. We are told that only the state schools can competently train our children. I see teachers (yes they really do go to eat) at Mc D’s demanding that they get “new” fries because the one’s they have are “old”. This nick-picking of every other aspect of how their money is spent is demanding of perfection; except when they look in the mirror.

Now, I went to Arlington High School in Indianapolis. Gang infested, race wars, guns, drugs, violence, teachers beat up, security guards with guns, and that was in first period. So don’t tell me anything about how hard it is. I had some outstanding teachers and they busted their a$$. However, this was 1980; just as the federal government took over the system. After that the visible drop in how they cared was palpable. No longer after school time with children, no teachers stopping by the house to help. No more waiting for kids. Paperwork took over and unions set the standards. Of course those standards were below what was already in place (which were minimal). Teachers left; the good ones. The replacements were without heart or passion. It was now a J.O.B.

For all you boot licking liberals, the next time a teacher complains about anything outside of their own work, they better have A+ students in their class; if not they just might get a taste of reality by those that know what a real teacher looks like.

Molonlabe2004 on September 27, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Maggie Gyllenhaal is a mystery to me. In one scene she looks ridiculously sexy, and in the next she looks like a sad Yertle the Turtle. I don’t get it…

PetecminMd on September 27, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Dog whistle!!!! We all know what “trigger” rhymes with…

Glenn Jericho on September 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM

And the definite link to a certain woman from Alaska.

Liam on September 27, 2012 at 2:41 PM

SomeCallMeJohn on September 27, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Don’t kid yourself – for them, it’s all about Obama.

tdpwells on September 27, 2012 at 2:42 PM

The rigidity of teachers unions in the face of even modest reforms is a full on war on students, and it doesn’t make me a teacher-hater to point it out.

Mary Katharine Ham on September 27, 2012 at 2:29 PM

.
No . . . . . but it makes you an evil conservative.

Admit it; you’ll be in good company. : )

listens2glenn on September 27, 2012 at 2:42 PM

For the first time in my adult life, Maggie Gyllenhaal looks gooooooooooood

She’s an activist leftist celeb….your infatuation will expire sooner than later, alas.

hawkeye54 on September 27, 2012 at 2:43 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

It’s not a right-wing “war on teachers,” as you characterize it. It’s a war on bloated, inflexible teachers’ unions that we have a problem with.

UltimateBob on September 27, 2012 at 2:43 PM

Maggie Gyllenhaal is a mystery to me. In one scene she looks ridiculously sexy, and in the next she looks like a sad Yertle the Turtle. I don’t get it…

It must be trick photography. :)

hawkeye54 on September 27, 2012 at 2:44 PM

For the first time in my adult life, Maggie Gyllenhaal looks gooooooooooood

ellesar04 on September 27, 2012 at 2:35 PM

I have to confess, I’ve almost always been turned off by her appearance in other movies, but she did look good in the trailer. Must be the white trash hairstyle or something.

Doughboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:44 PM

“That is a stoopid movey. I kant beleeve your treeting us that way!”

Sinsirley Yoors,
The Teechers Uniun

BacaDog on September 27, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Mary Katharine Ham on September 27, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Well said! That’s what I was trying to say, but I’m no writer (at least not a professional one).

UltimateBob on September 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Still waiting for one single, solitary Republican politician to make the argument for outlawing ALL public unions, the same argument that FDR made against creating public unions in the first place.

Randy Weingarten is an awful witch who makes half a million dollars a year overseeing the direct deposit of taxpayer dollars into Democrat party campaign war chests, while New York City public schools churn out barely literate students with impaired cognitive skills.

Weingarten, and all others like her, should be burned at the stake.

ardenenoch on September 27, 2012 at 2:49 PM

MKH nails it on the “war on teachers” crapola, of course, and makes a further good point in her original post about the Democrat Congress trying to reduce school choice for poor DC students. Civil rights is the foundational issue of the Republican Party, and supporting the Virginia Walden Davis’ of this world against the Democrats entrenched interests should still be a critical mission of the party today.

MTF on September 27, 2012 at 2:50 PM

“That is a stoopid movey. I kant beleeve your treeting us that way!”

Sinsirley Yoors,
The Teechers Uniun

BacaDog on September 27, 2012 at 2:45 PM

L O L

u meD mee laff.

- aY harverd gredjit.

OhEssYouCowboys on September 27, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Oh please, MKH Rusty, get a clue.

Rusty Allen on September 27, 2012 at 2:31 PM

FIFY

herm2416 on September 27, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Viola Davis!!! I loved her in The Help. This will be good, it’s a must-see for me

Liberty 5-3001 on September 27, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.

Good ole Oscar Wilde…

Fallon on September 27, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Intended for the Matt Damon thread?

22044 on September 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM

Indeed.

Matt Vespa on September 27, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Oh please, MKH, get a clue.

Rusty Allen on September 27, 2012

Good argument! I’m convinced.

Um, Obama?

Teaching #5: We must become the change we want to see in the world. — Mahatma Gandhi

SomeCallMeJohn on September 27, 2012

I just meant it was a favorite Obama line. I shoulda been more clear.

Mary Katharine Ham on September 27, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Meh. I really don’t want to watch Maggie Gyllenhaal.

philoquin on September 27, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Oh please, MKH, get a clue.

Rusty Allen on September 27, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Like, man, like, um, you, um, like, totally, uhm, oh yeah, like totally, like, showed her, man.

SparkPlug on September 27, 2012 at 3:52 PM

You forgot the sarc tag

No, he didn’t. Some teachers are bad and unions are odious, but most of us are here in the trenches trying our darndest to teach other people’s kids how to succeed in the world. We’d be happy to have you join us, especially as the job’s so easy and the pay’s so good!

Bob's Kid on September 27, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Why is it that the people who tend to be the most anti-war are the first ones to label any kind of issue (real or imagined) a “war?” Anyone??? Bueller?

pianomomma on September 27, 2012 at 2:28 PM

OOH, I know this one. YAY I get to answer a question.

After Libya, invading a country, engaging it militarily, and killing it’s soldiers (and collateral damage civilians) in attacks was re-designated a “Kinetic Military Action” and NOT War. Read up, that was NOT a war, not at all, not a little bit, NOT a war.

So the term “war” was left untethered to any action. What used to be war was now called KMA.

So they had a great term nobody was using that they could re-purpose to any other activity they didn’t like; and that would tell other liberals NOT to like it.

Hence, anything they don’t like === WAR.

Ok, maybe I’m guessing, but I’ve got a pretty good logical flow here.

gekkobear on September 27, 2012 at 3:56 PM

The only part that is not realistic in this movie is that moms from similar backgrounds have their kids in the same school. Maybe in a few pockets in the country but for the most part, it’s usually not that diverse in school attendance, say middle class, affluent, working poor all pretty much go to the same schools, at least in the suburbs.

tammyloc on September 27, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Plucky actresses stand up to the teacher’s union? I smell Won’t Back Down 2!

El Cabong on September 27, 2012 at 4:03 PM

I just meant it was a favorite Obama line. I shoulda been more clear.

Mary Katharine Ham on September 27, 2012 at 3:16 PM

That’s OK. I really like your chops in the War on Bacon.

SparkPlug on September 27, 2012 at 4:07 PM

The quality of teachers in this country can be demonstrated by something a college professor said a few years ago. He said that college freshmen in his classes could not compute the area of a rectangle with the formula and the values laid out in front of them. All they would have to do is plug the values in the formula and work it out. This is the pathetic result of teachers unions that are not interested in education but only as much free stuff they can get.

logicman_1998 on September 27, 2012 at 4:15 PM

End public schools, replace with voucher system. European countries do this and it works. Free markets work….only if you let them.

nazo311 on September 27, 2012 at 4:30 PM

I’m glad the movie got made, and is getting a wide release. Hopefully it’ll turn the lights on for some of the dim bulbs out there that can’t comprehend that teacher unions are the problem, not teachers or available resources.

Meanwhile, my cousin’s wife posted yesterday online that she found it “ironic that Gov Scott Walker called for the return of unionized NFL referees when he wants to outlaw unions in Wisconsin”. Didn’t have the heart to point out how she missed that opposing public unions paid for by taxpayers that turn around and lobby/elect politicians who will give them more is quite different from a private union paid for by a private enterprise.

smfic on September 27, 2012 at 4:32 PM

I have to admit that I’m quite surprised that these actresses are standing up for the movie. I really expected them to back down.

Good for them!

Common Sense on September 27, 2012 at 4:50 PM

No, he didn’t. Some teachers are bad and unions are odious, but most of us are here in the trenches trying our darndest to teach other people’s kids how to succeed in the world. We’d be happy to have you join us, especially as the job’s so easy and the pay’s so good!

Bob’s Kid on September 27, 2012 at 3:55 PM

News flash #1: You can’t make a career out of teaching your own.

News flash #2: You don’t teach kids how to succeed in the world. Their parents do.

nico on September 27, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Mary Katharine Ham, I like your approach to a sensitive subject; teachers and unions. I’m married to a retired kindergarten teacher and I think I and every teacher’s spouse I know look at just about anything a teacher’s union does with a jaundice eye. The unions have done little for the children and much for themselves. Never saw a union boss have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Never saw them threatened with being laid off every year. Never saw a group of union leaders take a pay cut (or forced pay cut) so others can continue to work. And I can’t think of one thing the union did to make things better for the students or the teachers. You can put the school board and the district administrators right in there with the union.

I do remember what the non-teachers higher-ups did do. Most years state and federal grants gave the district money for pay raises (or to do projects to help the school). The administrators got some great pay raises. The teachers were without raises for years. And, teachers’ health insurance payments were increased, while coverage decreased. The school board got the Cadillac of insurance for virtually nothing. One doctor on the board wouldn’t even take the district’s non-Cadillac insurance at his practice.

I’m sure there are stories like this in every district across the US; but why? Also, the unions, boards and school administrators have also done nothing to dispel the falsehood that because teachers get tenure they can now become bad teaches without repercussion. Some teachers that fall into that group are bad. It’s the bureaucrats that didn’t take action to rid the system of substandard teachers though. Maybe they were told not to. Maybe it was easier to ignore them. Others (the vast majority) love their profession too much. Anyway there is a lot peer pressure to do well. But as long as the unions are in charge and the politicians receive a never ending stream of money from the unions, nothing will change. I wish things were different. However, please blame the bureaucrats. The teachers don’t make the hiring or firing choices. And furthermore, try getting tenure in some districts if you are a conservative.

Look at the whole picture. Parents and district residents need to go to a board meeting or visit a school sometime.

Now there is something that has been bothering me. When Representative Pelosi became Speaker of the House and the new dominate party members stood up, held hands and did everything except sing Kum Bah Ya, what did Pelosi mean by saying, “WE DID IT FOR THE CHILDERN?” What did they do, what have they done for the children?

I think I’m going to go to a movie soon.

HHW on September 27, 2012 at 5:25 PM

It is the system that’s broken. There are good teachers and there are bad teachers. No one hates teachers, but what do you expect from a system where you can’t fire the bad teachers?

lea on September 27, 2012 at 5:50 PM

I get that big education has some challenges, but this full on righty ‘war on teachers’ goes too far IMO

gatorboy on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Wait. You mean charter schools and other private schools don’t have teachers?

I never realized that!

tom on September 27, 2012 at 9:01 PM

As a rule, unions are always about the employee, and never about the customer of a business.

Apply that logic to education.

IOW, of course teacher’s unions are more about the teachers than about the children. Why would you expect anything different?

And why would you be surprised that some of the goals of a teacher’s union come at the expense of the job of educating children?

Once you get this clear, you won’t confuse “teacher’s union” with “organization promoting better education.”

That doesn’t mean teachers hate children or hate teaching, but it does mean that a teacher’s union has no particular reason to concern itself with accomplishing better education.

tom on September 27, 2012 at 9:08 PM

Public education is a scam. It is a make-work government program and influence peddling scheme. The only way to make sure your kids have a good education is to teach them yourself, and that means home schooling them.

leereyno on September 28, 2012 at 6:46 AM

Why is it that the people who tend to be the most anti-war are the first ones to label any kind of issue (real or imagined) a “war?” Anyone??? Bueller?

pianomomma on September 27, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Because “war” is crisis, and crisis allows the bending of the old rules. And, bending the old rules means you can start to break some. If you break the right ones you can begin to control the people. It’s a fascism thing.

GWB on September 28, 2012 at 9:22 AM