The quality of education is an issue that affects us all like no other. Whether you're a student, parent, teacher, employer, consumer, pensioner, Democrat or Republican, education matters. Recently, the chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, Mike Stuart, blamed Democrats and teachers unions for West Virginia's deficits in education.
However, instead of offering genuine solutions, he recommended the familiar Republican proposals that parents and teachers have already rejected. Republicans suggest teachers do more, work more, achieve better results and do it all for less. As a parent of a public school student, I see the future of education as a topic too important to be used as either an attempt by the chairman to deflect attention and criticism for his recent strategic blunders, or as a political wedge issue in a misguided effort by the Republican Party to generate enthusiasm.
The reality is Republicans are against any and all unions in principle. The chairman claims that quality teachers are "hamstrung" by their unions. Really? He goes on to then complain, that those very unions who are hampering teachers effort have a "<t40>...<t$>singular purpose and goal of higher salaries" for teachers. The positions he offers would be laughable if it weren't about something so consequential. Of course, the real problem Republicans have is the voice and bargaining power unions provide.
After spending this year in my son's public elementary school as a volunteer, I have observed the diverse skills teachers must have. What I see are teachers and staff who care deeply about our children. Individuals who walk outside during thunderstorms and torrential rain to escort each child into school. Professionals who already work after hours and take work home with them. Dedicated educators who spend their own money on their students and classrooms. No thank you to, "accomplished community professionals" in the classrooms, I want certified, qualified, accountable teachers. I want more teachers in classrooms, smaller classes and more pay for teachers.
For what other profession is it deemed acceptable and even politically popular to regularly disrespect the employees. It's also hard to imagine a profession more deserving of our unified respect and support. Amazingly, teachers and the unions who provide them a voice at the bargaining table, provide a reliable scapegoat for Republicans year after year. Sadly, the chairman's commentary was about tactics, not teachers.