I was discussing the teachers' strike with a friend this morning after breakfast. After covering some of the issues at play she said, "Criticizing teachers can be hard to do."
That's true, and rightfully so. I've had great teachers, people whom I admire and even love for what they've done in my life. I have stayed in touch with many of my teachers going back to elementary school because they are important people to me. I'm friends with many of them on Facebook, where they've seen my writing on the strike and my criticism of the teachers' union and the entire notion of taxpayer-financed/government-provided schooling.
What's sad is that teaching and politics have become so intertwined. Everyone--even and perhaps especially teachers--has political opinions, many about which we're passionate and committed agents for some sort of change. Just as I differ politically with many non-teachers, I differ politically with many teachers. Teacher or not, each of us is a complex set of preferences, beliefs, values, and ideas.
The real tragedy is schooling has become a political issue. This is why the teachers' unions can say that if you're against their political agenda, you're against teachers. That's sad and simply not true. Just because I disagree with how you believe government should operate doesn't mean I dislike or don't value you or your profession.
If schooling weren't a government issue, there would be no opportunity for teachers to be shaken when people disagree with them politically. And, if it weren't a government issue, there could be so much more innovation, experimentation, methods and styles that aren't subject to the whims of the public at the ballot box or well-funded special interests.
Shouldn't education be set free from that?