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In Praise of Older, More Experienced Teachers

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By Dave Lindorff

           Back in the late 1980s, when I lived in a little town in rural Upstate New York called Spencer, I joined the local library board, eventually ending up through default becoming president of the board. We ran a dinky one-room library with a dedicated part-time librarian. The back of the library was piled with boxes of books that could not be shelved for lack of space. For years, the board had been trying to raise funds to expand the library, which was an adjunct to the local firehouse. After finally raising most of the cash needed through donations, we decided to approach the local Lions Club to ask for a check. Our vice president, Sherry Haefle, feisty co-owner of a little mom-and-pop cable TV operation in town, offered to make the pitch.  She asked for $1000 of the proceeds of the next summer's little annual Lions Club town picnic. The club president, a local businessman, replied, "What do we need a library for anyhow? I haven't read a book in years!"  Haefle's response was memorable "I'm not surprised to hear you say that Tom," she said, "but I am surprised to hear you say it in public."


Let's face it. Among the business and political elite, education, and anything connected to learning, like a library, is not valued.  At best it is viewed as a way to train docile workers, and to regiment children into conformity. 


In fact when it comes to education, the popular thing today in American politics is trashing experienced teachers.

Sandy Taylor used a banned books list to teach high school English
Sandy Taylor used a banned books list to teach high school English
(Image by ThisCantBeHappening)
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Politicians like Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin (who never finished college), Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, and myriad members of the House and Senate who were at best B students in high school and in many cases worse, are saying the key to educational "reform" is ending tenure and seniority so that older teachers can be trashed in mid-career to be replaced by supposedly high-performing young replacements.


What they're not saying is that this is really not about performance, or teaching kids, it's about money. Older teachers are more expensive, because they've earned raises over the years. Younger teachers are paid introductory-level poverty wages, and that will help these politicians who are cutting taxes at the federal and state level survive the wrath of citizens who suddenly find that they have to finance their and their neighbors' kids' education with local property taxes...


For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent alternative online newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/543



 

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)
 

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