During these stressful times, teachers sometimes think they are alone in their struggle to maintain the dignity of their profession. They may get the impression by listening to politicians and the media that no one cares about them or about public education. This is wrong. The American public does not want to turn its schools over to inept amateurs or Wall Street financiers. And the overwhelming majority remembers its teachers warmly and respects their work.
I recently wrote a blog about the Chicago Teachers Union’s overwhelming decision to authorize a strike. This decision received the affirmative vote of 90% of the members (actually it was 98%, because non-votes were counted as negative). Less than 2% opposed the strike resolution. This is quite a stunning rebuke to the bully tactics of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And it is a stunning rebuke as well to Jonah Edelman, the civil-rights-activist turned corporate-reformer, who predicted (and boasted) that the teachers would never get 75% of its members to agree to strike and spent millions of dollars lobbying to change the law to make sure that CTU had to meet what he thought was an impossible threshold. Edelman, head of Stand for Children, went to the Aspen Ideas Festival to advise the nation’s elites how to cripple their teachers’ unions by adopting his hardball tactics.
In response to my blog, I received the following comment from a parent. I post it here to let teachers know that they are not alone. Count on your parents. Enlist them as allies. I would go even farther and say appeal to your local business and civic leaders. They are not pawns of the financial elites. They are your potential allies. They do not want to see your community torn apart. They will stand with you as you fight to defend your students, your school, your profession, and your community.
This is what the parent wrote:
I’m not a teacher. Neither is anyone in my family. The way in which you beat bullies and well-funded propaganda campaigns is to ENLIST THE PARENTS. Get us on your side. It’s not an “easy” thing to do. But it’s not nearly as difficult as it might first appear.
For every irate, blustering, nasty parent you’ve encountered, I guarantee you there are 2 or 3 or even 9 who feel differently. And a lot of them will have your back, stand with you, speak out for you, support you fully: but you have to approach them, one on one. You have to make the first move, reach out, and ASK their help.
Most parents know it’s all about a partnership with your child’s teacher and school. We WANT to work with you. Please don’t be afraid to, quite literally, ring our doorbell and initiate the conversation.
Stand strong, teachers. And don’t let a handful of elitists—whose own children are always in fancy private schools—intimidate you and destroy our American system of free public education for all.