I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We Don't Need No Education...

It's 1982 all over again:
The good news is the broader economy is starting to stabilize. Weekly initial unemployment claimshave been declining, commercial and residential real estate is stabilizing, interest rates remain low and private sector job growth is improving. By 2012, 4.3 million children born in 2007 will be entering Kindergarten. Demand for elementary teachers will increase; however, public schools may be forced to remain tepid concerning hiring since state budgets will still be lean. Subsequently, educators need to see robust private sector and general economic growth to allow states to start expanding public sector budgets. Once that happens, schools will need to hire teachers to drive down class size enrollments, educate a nationally growing population and replace retired teachers. Stay tuned…
Tom Kean knew that he needed to raise the quality of the teaching corps, so, in 1982 - coming out of a recession - he raised starting teacher salaries, which had been dragging behind the rest of the workforce. Young people began looking at teaching as a serious and worthwhile profession.

How times have changed. Is there anyone out there who doesn't think that Christie's antics have pretty much decimating the teaching profession as a viable alternative for bright young people? Leave aside the gutting of pay and benefits; he's demonized teachers to a point where what ever little prestige the job had is pretty much gone. Why would a 20-something even consider working in a school after listening to the vitriol he has lobbed at educators?

It's going to take years to repair this damage, and it's going to take money. This nation cannot afford to sit back and watch its public education system crumble under a regime of neglect and demagoguery. As reformers like Christie have stated over and over again, teachers are the most important part of this system, but I can't think of anyone who has done more to destroy both the morale and financial futures of teachers than Chris Christie. Repairing that damage will not be easy.

And yet, those 4.3 million kids are entering kindergarten next year. They will need to be educated. We will pay a severe price if we neglect their needs.

Will they have a competent, confident, well-paid teaching corps to guide them? Or has Christie done so much damage that our children will suffer for years to come?


Lisa said...

It seems that education trends tend to have about 10 year cycles before we determine they've failed, such as Whole Language, the "New Math", etc. Some die quicker, like Open Classroom schools. I hope this next trend of privatization follows the latter. However, since it's an economic model and not an instructional methodology, if it is found to have failed, I'm concerned that the public model will be so decimated that even a hybrid won't revive it in time to save a generation.

On the other hand, technology may move in to bring an entirely new approach to education. I can almost see our grandchildren Skyping to school instead of skipping.

Moreover, until TPTB realize that our "Education Problem" is not an instructional problem but a socioeconimic one, as you so accurately illustrated in your "Independent Variable" post, I don't see much hope, whether our classrooms are virtual or actual.

czarejs said...

Just last year I was encouraging my brother to get his education classes and become an art teacher. I wouldn't even consider it now, and I love teaching.
My uncle is retired from NJEA, my aunt was is a retired school nurse, their son is a teacher, I'm a teacher because of my uncle.
My uncle spent much of his life fighting for New Jersey teachers, and he told me a few weeks ago that he thought it was time to get out. That the forces arrayed against us are too powerful and too well financed. If a man like him, who is a true believer in public education and in the importance of good teachers feels like that, how could a young person even consider becoming a teacher?

Duke said...

On behalf of people across this state, I thank your family for their service to our children.

Be proud of them and yourself. You have all done more to help this state than Christie will ever do. You are the real reformers.