There have always been those who have spent their adult lives disliking teachers and public schools. It’s understandable. Traditionally, most dissatisfaction with schools and teachers was born of personal experiences, or experiences of their children, and from anecdotal horror stories.
But not any more; there’s a new constituency of anti public education bloggers inhabiting the Twittersphere.
These are the educational libertarians. (this is my term, not theirs)
Educational Libertarians feel that public education is an irresistible force, usurping their rights as parents to bring up their children as they see fit. They feel the education system seeks to bring up their children for them and is unresponsive to parent’s wishes.
They feel threatened by an educational fraternity that they see as constantly working to strengthen their empire and their grip over kids, parents and family.
Educational libertarians believe that education should be offered like any other competitive service. Parents should be free to either accept or reject the service.
The compulsory, universal mandate of public education for all frustrates libertarians. They see the system as one which shackles children and them as parents.
Educational Libertarians see public education as shady and power hungry, in the same way Eisenhower saw the military industrial complex.
They see teachers as resistant to accountability. Educational libertarians do not accept that teachers and schools cannot be rated like other occupations. The fact that it’s difficult to “fire” poor teachers is unacceptable to them.
Libertarians argue that teaching is not a profession for this reason- teachers are not accountable because their service can’t be refused and they can’t be fired therefore, they are not professionals.
Educational libertarians feel parents should be the primary educators of their children. They believe they know their children best and are thus best qualified to decide how their children are educated.
They feel extreme frustration that parents, the employers of a huge, lifetime tenured, unresponsive and patronizing group of employees are ignored, even ridiculed should they rage against the machine.
Educational libertarians hold their beliefs very strongly. Those with whom I converse regularly are not just whimsically opposed to teachers and public schools for no reason – they’re committed.
Many educational libertarians research and read voraciously to inform and exposit their frustration and anger with the education machine.
Their beliefs are only strengthened by the usual discourse about education and schools and they are invulnerable to contrary argument, because they see it as coming from the education behemoth itself.
Anecdotal information about how hard teacher’s work, how committed they are to children or how much they contribute to our kids and society only hardens their views.
Decrying standardized testing is teachers fighting against the accountability with which everyone else has to deal.
Talking about child development, or executive function as important school contributions, or other discussions about educational issues are pointless until one addresses the basic belief; that the system is working against children, parents, and family.
The analyses above are just conclusions I have drawn from my considerable online interactions since the teacher’s strike, with many, very well spoken, if angry bloggers.
My reason for presuming to speak for educational libertarians however (which I know I’ll hear about online), is not to refute their beliefs but only to identify them.
Personally, I have learned much from discussions with even the most argumentative educational libertarians. I have finally put some meat on the bones of the anti teacher, anti public school sentiment so prevalent today.
I share some of the concerns they express, especially those about the need for the education system to respond and change more nimbly.
During the strike, I thought the rampant teacher bashing we engaged in was just a bunch of people who had a bad school experience or whose child had a clumsy or even lousy teacher.
I now know better.
Some of it was that, but much of it was much more than that – born of a new, stronger, educational libertarianism that is not going away.