BY SHARON MARTIN
There is an organization in Oklahoma whose job it is to eliminate public education. Employees of this organization, including their writers, can criticize public schools and teachers because they enjoy the free speech that democracy insures.
But not all free speech is equal.
There are lies, half truths, and truth twisted to meet an agenda. Critical thinking skills, the kind taught by the best teachers in public and private schools, will help citizens sort out the propaganda from the truth.
Is every public school a good one? Of course not. Nor is every teacher a good teacher any more than every preacher is a good preacher or every secretary is efficient and capable. But poor schools and bad teachers are problems with solutions.
It is easy to find random incidents that make any institution look bad. Our public-school basher, in a recent article, put down all public education by relating an incident that involved a substitute teacher.
The requirements to be a substitute are a high school diploma and enough free time to work for $30 a day. Substitutes get little respect and no education training. A good substitute is a treasure. Bad substitutes should find another job, one that pays at least minimum wage. And public schools should not be judged on the actions of a substitute.
There are plenty of hardworking teachers who do their jobs well. The stress is great and the pay doesn’t live up to the education requirements, but most teachers do their job because it is their calling. Let’s hear their stories.
Last weekend, an acquaintance angrily told about a teacher she knew who “let the kids run off their own worksheets.” While the students did worksheets, the teacher “ate her candy bar and balanced her checkbook and talked on the phone.”
Hello. If a teacher acts this way, he or she should be fired. And contrary to what liars will tell you, bad teachers can be fired, whether or not they belong to a union. Tenure only says that a teacher cannot be fired without a good reason.
Public schools have been pummeled. Class sizes are swelling. Money that should be spent on personnel and libraries is being wasted on tests that don’t improve education.
Still, teachers teach because they know democracy depends on it. And pundits paid to promote private schools continue to bash teachers and public schools because their jobs depend on it.
Let’s hope democracy wins in this war of words and ideologies.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer