s skippy the bush kangaroo: why erik loomis supports public school teachers (and you should, too!)

skippy the bush kangaroo

Thursday, September 13, 2012

why erik loomis supports public school teachers (and you should, too!)

we can't say it any better than erik loomis did over @ lawyers, guns & money:

and then there was a man named stuart perlmeter. i first ran into him in the 7th grade when he taught some classes at my middle school. this was around 1987. he was a weird guy, or so it seemed. he had big curly hair. his classroom was festooned with lyrics by some band none of us had ever heard of before called talking heads. and he was very into science. i have no idea why this man ended up in the springfield public school system. because he was kind of a famous guy in the science world.

mr. perlmeter used to tell us stories. he actually worked with dian fossey on gorillas. don’t believe me? he took the last of these pictures in this 1981 national geographic article.

once i started high school, he started teaching there. but he didn’t bother with the ap classes. he focused on the kids who weren’t much engaged in school, those at risk of dropping out. he started a program where they could go observe bats. he wrote about his experiences in popular and academic journals. this came out the year after i graduated. i remember some of the kids in these pictures. for all this work, mr. perlmeter won oregon’s school teacher of the year award in 1990.

certainly not every school had a guy like this. but we also had all of these teachers who taught kids who were underprepared, dealing with unemployment, substance abuse and domestic violence at home; who had no family expectations that they would amount to anything. and these teachers, underpaid no doubt, persevered and tried to teach these kids. sure, 20% of them may have been terrible. are 20% of administrators not terrible? 20% of political pundits? mediocrity is part of the world. but the majority of teachers ranged from good-hearted people to superheroes.
for skippy, there were thankfully too many wonderful teachers to remember here. there was miss bennett, the wry, sarcastic high school science teacher who imparted her love of the mysteries of the physical world to us kids. there was mr. hammond, gruff exterior, with a heart of gold and a brilliant mind that could make adolescent brains excited about geometry. there was mr. barnes, the clarinet-playing band teacher who grew up on chicago's southside, and who taught us kids the wonders of jazz in band practice. there was crazy sonja pohlman, the erudite redhead who got stuck with the privelege of teaching advanced literature to the misfits in high school, and showed us that learning was more than memorizing; it was imagination, it was critical thinking, it was acting out scenes from dostoyevski and trips to the mall to simply watch real people interact.

teaching is hard, and getting harder. even physically threatening. and severely underpaid and under-appreciated. so we agree w/erik on all counts:

the chicago teachers union deserves everything they are asking for because many of them are heroes. for some, for kids like me, they are role models who give young people social mobility and who teach them that learning is a great thing. they know that standardized testing is worthless, that it bores everyone (as its early iterations bored me in high school), that they need to be allowed to teach and inspire. they deserve what they are asking for because they care more about young people’s future than anyone else in society, often more than the students’ own parents and certainly more than the education capitalists and liberal pundits who concern troll about these kids without having interacted with them. these teachers deserve what they are asking for because each and every day, many of them face confused, angry kids who have seen terrible things at home and can’t deal, who bring hateful words and knives and even guns into to the schools, because they face cursing and violence and horrible things on a daily basis, things rahm emanuel can’t even dream of.

the chicago teachers union deserves the world because they take kids like me out of working-class families and help them fulfill their dreams. those who attack them place themselves on the other side of the class divide, on the side that promotes social inequality and the side that provides no incentives for good teachers to stay in working-class schools since poor test scores, largely a result of poverty, will cost them their job. they claim to help children but don’t understand poor public schools; they claim to support policies that will improve education but promote ideas that will enrich capitalists at the expense of students.

and these pundits, these people who have never worried about money a single day in their lives, who were born with a silver foot in their mouth to quote ann richards, claim to support unions but never actually provide that support when working or middle-class people decide that enough is enough and walk off their jobs for the betterment of themselves, their families, and their community. and that makes me very, very angry. to quote campos from yesterday’s post on yglesias’ commentary, “look, either you support this strike or you don’t. if you don’t support it on the merits then come out and say so, and why. if you do support it, then say so, and why.”

indeed. you are either on the side of teachers or on the side of those who will crush their union. in the middle of the strike, there is no gray area. which side are you on? i side with the people who changed my life.
addendum: from commentor darkrose @ balloon juice:

if you want to support the chicago teachers from afar, here’s one way, from dave zirin:

there is no winning a game when the rules have been rigged, but there is power in numbers. there is power in struggle. and there is power in pizza. the easiest way to support chicago teachers is to order them a piping hot pizza pie. you can get food to the picket lines by calling gus or daisy at primo’s pizza at (312) 243-1052. when pizza shows up to the tired picketers, everyone’s spirits are lifted. it’s read to them from which part of the country a pie was ordered and it makes them feel that much less alone.

it may seem like a small, kind of silly thing, but trust me, it means a lot.
posted by skippy at 7:18 PM |


Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

Online Computer Support
commented by Blogger navaneedh, 10:29 PM PDT  

Add a comment