Thursday, August 7, 2014

AN OPEN LETTER TO "THE VIEW" FROM BATs!


Your recent comments, which were perceived as an attack on teachers, have caused commotion within our respective communities. In good faith we would like to believe that you did not intend to attack teachers and we would like to believe that you may actually be supportive of good teachers. However, there were several misconceptions that were expressed during these shows and we would like to address them. 

First, Jenny McCarthy asked “But who is protecting the students?” We would like to make it clear that teachers are, quite often, the last line of defense for students and without our “tenure” (due process) protections, we would be unable to provide this protection without fear of termination. Another point was made regarding teachers having a union and students having no union. We would like to assure you that many of the issues our unions fight for, such as class size limits and safe working conditions are for the benefit and safety of students. The working conditions of teachers ARE the learning conditions for students. There are many other items negotiated by teachers that benefit students including preparation time for teachers. No student deserves to be taught by a teacher that does not have the necessary amount of time to prepare a quality lesson. Due process rights that protect teachers in their positions allow the students to benefit from the longevity, consistency and the experience of teachers that have a vested interest in their school and the surrounding community.

The rhetoric of “bad teachers” has become a direct campaign by the wealthy to target teacher unions. It is important to note that teaching is a predominantly female profession. The perception of “bad teachers” has been greatly exaggerated in media stories as this attack gains momentum. As our assistant manager, Melissa Tomlinson, posted on your Facebook page, “Bad teachers do not have any business being in education. But there is more to it than that. What is a bad teacher for one student, can be a wonderful teacher for another student. What may be a bad teacher could be the result of an unfair job placement because administration is trying to run that teacher out due to personal conflict. What may be a bad teacher may be a newer teacher that was never mentored in the beginning. Our due process rights protect us in these instances. They protect us as we speak out for the child that is brought back to school after attempting to commit suicide and has not yet worked out all of her emotional problems. Due process protects the teacher that fights to get a child classified or to get placement in a smaller classroom setting so they can work on reading and try to get up to grade level. Due process could allow a teacher to whistle blow when they see a misuse of funds. To say that we have lost our minds when defending our rights as educators of children when we are sometimes the last defense standing in front of these children is ignorant.” Teachers are the adults fighting against segregation, the lack of fair funding, the neglect of proper maintenance of school facilities, and the inequitable availability of resources, all of which harm our students.  Teachers fight for our LGBT students to have an extracurricular club, we fight for literature that is diverse, and we fight against forces in our school communities that don't treat all children equally.  We can do this because we have a right to due process. 

As teachers we see the need to join together with parents and others to fight against the corporate education reform agenda that is starving our schools. We ask others to not fall in to this trap and we seek to enlighten people regarding the need to strengthen our unions and for union members to join one another in solidarity as this attack on our unions has become an attack on the very premise of the middle class. We sincerely hope that you will consider having on your show our co-founder, Mark Naison and another member of our association to openly continue this dialogue. We know that acknowledging another side of this issue and a willingness to have an open discussion with different views will serve your show’s mission.  We feel that The View should allow both sides of an argument so that the public has ALL the information to make an informed decision.  

10 comments:

  1. I am proud to be a BAT. This is very well worded. The public needs to hear from those of us in the trenches. ^^O^^

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  2. Thank you for representing many public educators in this piece.

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  3. I spent thirty years trying to teach critical-thinking skills to 5000 language arts students. Thank you for your fine commentary. It warms my retired English teacher bones just to read it.

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  4. Tenure means only one thing for educators--that before they are fired--they will receive a hearing--that's it--merely the opportunity to be heard and hear the facts before they are fired--that's all that tenure means. It's noir rocket science--not to educators anyway! Without tenure, teachers can be fired for providing too many Bs in a class; without tenure, female teachers can be fired for getting pregnant; without tenure, teachers who are coaches can be fired for not winning enough games or playing someone's child enough. See the facts about public schools in the book, Why America's Public Schools Are the Best Place for Kids: Reality vs. Negative Perceptions available in all formats at www.rowman.com

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  5. I hope "the view" decides to take on this side of the issue....

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  6. Well said, BAT. Teaching is hard work, and good teachers are nearly always underpaid. Where would we be without you?

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  7. Thank you for speaking up for teachers and for sharing info on this site. It is so encouraging to have this forum to support teachers.

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  8. Public school educators are the strongest advocates for students. Families face issues of poverty and bigotry, and educators will confront those issues beyond the school environment, at the roots. The resistance to the wrongs in American society will make some uncomfortable. So be it until every is a recipient of the benefits of living in this county, because we are all contributing to it.

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