I don’t know who you voted for, and at this point, it doesn’t matter. It’s water over the dam. If you are a public school teacher, or you are married to a public school teacher or you are a proud product of our nation’s public schools, buckle up. We are in for a rough ride for the next few years.
Public education has been under siege since 1983 when the Reagan administration dropped the bombshell report, A Nation at Risk on the country.
I started teaching in 1975, and public education had already begun to be questioned before 1983. The media and certain pundits had started to complain (even then) that the public schools in the United States weren’t keeping up with other nations when comparing test scores. Of course, those same members of the media and those same pundits routinely overlooked the fact that post-school segregation, more students from more diverse backgrounds were taking standardized tests like the SAT, and when disaggregated, the U. S wasn’t doing that poorly in comparison after all.
The United States has, until recently, been a place where education was valued, and until about 20 years ago, it was a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that the country needed to invest in public schools so that students could be given an equal opportunity to succeed. The United States, after all, has been the place where anyone could be successful no matter how humble their beginnings. A good education and a willingness to work could lead to a successful career and a better life.
Oh, how things have changed! Today, we have re-segregated our schools as a result of backing off the intention of Brown v. Board of Education. We don’t even fake for “separate but equal” anymore.
In urban areas, schools are neglected to the point that buildings are falling apart, and no one seems to care. Those who are pushing for charters and choice also don’t seem to care that not everyone will have the luxury of school choice…and no one is yet addressing what will happen to those “left behind.”
Given that we now have a President who apparently couldn’t care less about public education given his choice of Education Secretary, it is time for public school teachers to wake up to a new reality.
If there had ever been a year for a teacher to be a one-issue voter with that one issue being education, this would have been it. I suspect, however, that like many people who wanted “change,” many teachers voted for change as well. Like I said, buckle up. We are about to see “change” like we have never seen it before across the board–including in our nation’s schools.