By Dan Lupkin
Special Education Teacher & UFT Delegate
P.S. 58, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
Parents and teachers are often set against each other by politicians engaging in demagoguery and cynical “divide and conquer” tactics, but the truth is that our interests and passions are far more similar than they are different. What it boils down to is that teachers (many of whom have kids in the public schools) and parents are working towards exactly the same goal: facilitating the growth of the children of New York into brilliant, confident, kind, self-actualized human beings ready to succeed in the world on their own terms.
Politicians, particularly those pushing a particular brand of privatizing, testing-obsessed, anti-union “education reform”, have provided ample proof in word and deed that their goals are different from ours. They have not given birth to or nurtured these students*, nor do they understand the blood, sweat, and tears that a teacher invests in a student over a course of a year or more. This crop of “education reformers” are not educators, they are business people, and their expertise is in the management of data points on a graph. As such, a student (or a teacher) is not viewed as an individual, but as a scaled test result, a growth score. The schools are seen as spoils to be disassembled and distributed at bargain basement prices to allies and campaign contributors.
In my experience, parents and teachers across New York City agree on many of the vital education issues facing us today, though we don’t always realize it. On issue after issue, politicians like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Education Commissioner John King (and their local equivalents in most large cities) impose policies that fail and degrade the children of this country. Not surprisingly, these dangerous policies are decried passionately by the stakeholders who know our students as individuals, as learners. These issues are the ideal soil in which to sow parent/teacher solidarity, to work together to protect the students. Among the most pressing of these concerns are politicians pretending class size doesn’t matter, massive waves of school closings, and high-stakes testing. These are natural opportunities for collaboration between parents and teachers, instances in which the politicians are just wrong. Continue Reading…