Dave Eggers and Ninive Clements Calegari, in an otherwise excellent op-ed in today's New York Times, ignore one important question: Why do we, as Americans, so loathe our teachers?
Eggers and Calegari are right: we can turn around our schools, and can do so by renewing our faith in teachers, in providing them better and better training and real support in the schools, and by paying them adequately.
That we don't, that we blame our teachers for the 'failures' of our educational system, is tantamount, Eggers and Calegari say, to blaming the soldiers for the loss of a war:
No, if the results aren’t there, we blame the planners. We blame the generals, the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition.
And yet in education we do just that. When we don’t like the way our students score on international standardized tests, we blame the teachers. When we don’t like the way particular schools perform, we blame the teachers and restrict their resources.
Yes. Exactly. So, let's stop blaming the teachers, give them pay and support, and improve our schools!
Except it's not so simple.