What Has Happened To Our Teachers?

I remember in my younger days the reverence teachers were held in. They were universally understood to be underpaid and under appreciated. Many a radio program would end with some sort of tribute to our teachers. I compare that vision with our current vision of teachers: a militant political force hell bent on setting policy for every school district, city council, state government, and our nation in total. What happened? How did Johnny’s third grade teacher change from the kindly mother-like figure who patiently taught Johnny the three R’s into the raging political force issuing outrageous mandates to the country every day? The answer is simple and I can tell you with one word: “union”.

Man’s quest for power is unrelenting and omnipresent. You will see it anywhere you look and politics is the essence of it. When the teacher’s unions became political their mission changed from insuring proper treatment of teachers to mandating educational policy on a national level.

Teacher’s salaries used to be shameful. When I was a kid it was generally accepted that teachers were underpaid. Nothing was done about it, however, until the advent of the teacher’s unions. In fact my uncle, Hugh MacColl, was the founder of the Teacher’s Association of Long Beach, the Long Beach, Ca teacher’s union. He was a lion on the subject of teacher’s salaries. However, like so many unions in our country today, teacher’s unions have long since accomplished their core mission: proper treatment of school teachers. What has followed is merely a repeat of what has followed the successes of the coal miner’s union, the auto worker;s union, the trucker’s union, etc. Once equity has been established the union finds itself in an awkward position: their constituents no longer need them and justifying the collection of union dues becomes difficult. Thus the union must conjure up issues to fight for: higher pay, more vacation, policy decision making, and so on even after perceived injustices or shortcomings have long been eliminated. For example, in New York state, the AVERAGE teacher pay is $85,889 per year. In Mississippi which has the lowest teacher pay in the nation, the average pay is $45,574 – far from poverty wage in a poverty ridden state.

But the ambition of the teacher’s unions has expanded from merely insuring proper pay, vacation time, insurance benefits, etc for teachers. They now covet policy making power. The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has presented them with an unexpected opportunity to satisfy their greed for power and they have seized it vigorously. By regulating the presence of teachers in the classroom, they have taken control of our education system. They now decide when and if our children will attend in person learning or if they will sit in front of a computer and ferment. This is ridiculous! It’s the same thing as allowing the auto worker’s union to decide what kind of engine will be put into a new car or whether it will have pollution reduction equipment.

No small part of the union’s decision to teach in classroom is the natural human attraction to “something for nothing”. If a teacher is paid to sit at home and watch soap operas the same as to appear in the classroom and teach children I’m afraid far too many of them opt for the former. The effect on our school age children is undeniably catastrophic but this seems to have no effect on the union leadership or teacher population. How sad. What has happened to our teachers?