This week I learned that both the RNC and DNC are welcoming not only Michelle Rhee's group screening the movie Won't Back Down...but also welcoming Rhee herself to be interviewed by Chelsea Clinton. Neither party has offered many kind words toward longtime teachers who love their students and their profession.
The disrespect toward teachers has been painful for me as a retired teacher, and others still teaching are feeling the sting.
I was pleased to read these remarks by Tony Danza who has been actually been teaching a year in high school.
Don't be surprised if the nation's teachers start a fan club for actor Tony Danza. Unlike the countless policy makers and talking heads who offer up suggestions for improving education without ever teaching a day in their lives, during the 2009-2010 school year the actor ditched Hollywood for a gig teaching tenth grade English at Northeast High School in Philadelphia. Now Danza's written a book, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had, about the experience.He emphasizes that teachers crave parent involvement, and that parents have the responsibility to make sure their child takes part in his own education.
What's Danza apologizing for? He readily admits that he wasn't the best student in school, and since he'd earned a degree in history education, he wanted to make a difference. Perhaps he's also regretting the disrespectful assumption too many in our society make: educators don't really want to work hard and are incompetent
"The question I still wrestle with" writes Danza in an op-ed for USA Today, "is 'in the midst of a tough economy and continuous budget cutting, how do we send a message to students that being in school and making the most of their time there is important?'" Danza says his experience taught him that "teachers have no problem being held accountable by parents. In fact, they crave parent involvement."Now that is one of the most obvious solutions to having success for everyone. Yet not a word about it from either party.
What teachers need parents to do, says Danza, is "persuade their sons and daughters to take part in their own education." That can't happen, though, if parents don't get involved. "There were evenings when, as an English teacher hosting an open house for parents, I stood mostly alone," says Danza. And, although he heard plenty about how teachers need to engage students, "kids have to understand that it’s their responsibility to do well—no matter who their teacher is or the quality of their school."
The campaign to blame teachers for school problems started in earnest a few years ago. They had to discredit the schools to be able to send the reformers in to privatize them. It's been working quite well.
Students and parents are equals with teachers, and they must take responsiblity.
I guess it takes a year in the classroom to understand that. So kudos to Danza for his remarks.