Can Teachers Catch A Break?

You have to wonder. Cities have been playing “gotcha!” with teachers for more than a century. The latest rounds use flawed tests and inaccurate evaluation scores to drive education DEform, privatization, and union-busting.

In the early 20th century, in the years surrounding the 1916 founding of the Teachers Union (TU), charges of insufficient Americanism and too much internationalism led to teacher loyalty oaths, dismissals….and union-busting.

Held behind closed doors, the 1940-1942 Rapp-Coudert hearings called in and questioned some 500 college faculty and staff members and students. The goals were to route out communists and others perceived as dangerous subversives from public schools, colleges, and universities….and union-busting.

With time out for WW II, the investigations ramped up again in the late 1940s, and continued into the early 1960s. Cold War chill set in on teachers and other civil servants who were communists, socialists, or otherwise on the left. Or none of those. In New York, and cities around the country, local officials and often police departments got help from the FBI in deeply intrusive searches for names and more names. Once again the goals centered on getting rid of people with annoying political views. …and union-busting.

The parallels to current events – in education and in the broader political world – are all too clear Teachers, and other public workers, are in the political cross-hairs again, for still having reasonably strong unions and because of the persistence of school problems. Rather than attacking the root cause of those problems – poverty and its related social conditions — public officials in both major parties these days are teaming up with for-profit private interests against the public schools. From Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Rick Scott in Florida, Chris Christie in New Jersey, and other (mostly) Republican governors to the likes of Arne Duncan at the Department of Education and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, the anti-education, anti-teacher private interests continue their crusades. Once again the goals are diverting attention from the impact of poverty. …and union-busting.

The more things (don’t) change…..

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