Public school teachers have endured three years of sustained attacks, since Race to the Top unleashed the nutty idea that student scores on standardized tests are the key to teacher quality. This was ammunition to set off a sustained attack on teachers, especially those with experience, and on their unions, which defend them. Yesterday, the anti-teacher juggernaut came to a screeching halt in Minnesota. Governor Dayton vetoed legislation to strip teachers of any job protections. http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/150109845.html
The usual far-right forces mobilized with their deceptive message about wanting “great teachers.” They never explain how a state or district attracts great teachers by demonizing the ones they have now. Michelle Rhee’s Students First, a spin-off of ConnCAN called MinnCAN, the Republican party, and the Chamber of Commerce lobbied hard to remove teachers’ rights to due process. This is supposedly how you put “students first,” by making sure that their teachers live in fear of being fired after years of good service. Proposals of this sort are an intelligence test (or maybe just a test of the power of reactionary forces and adept lobbying): Do you really believe that students will learn more if their teachers have no right to due process? No one has ever explained the logic behind these absurd claims.
Governor Dayton showed what political intelligence and courage look like in a lean and mean season.