Yesterday, I posted without comment the text of a bill proposed by Iowa State Senator Mark Chelgren. The bill is so absurd that it had absolutely no chance of becoming law. I posted it to draw attention to the increasing legislative attacks on teachers throughout the country. I succeeded far beyond my expectations—over 3,000 Facebook “shares” and well above 10,000 views. Unfortunately, by singling out a bill in Iowa, I made it look like the crazies are there—and not everywhere.
The absolute nuttiness of the bill is the best defense against its ever becoming law. Iowa, though, has other protections. Katherine Tachau, President of the University of Iowa AAUP chapter, informs me that this dead-on-arrival bill was intercepted by the Iowa Senate Education Committee chair, a professor at Iowa State, who sent it to a subcommittee chaired by another ally of education. Tachau writes, “I’m inclined to think that this bill belongs to the large category of ill-informed bills on any number of subjects with no chance of passage with which the records of all legislatures are replete.” I agree.
That said, with the recent attempt to ban collective bargaining by faculty in Ohio, the punitive use of teacher evaluations in New York and other attacks on teachers in states across the country, we need to be vigilant. As unwise as the Iowa bill is, it is not alone. The entire teaching profession is under attack, not simply its unions but its very existence. Many people would like to get rid of teachers completely, replacing them with automation and digital possibilities. Others want to limit education to training, replacing learning with the earning of badges. All of them, for one reason or another, feel that teachers are causing more problems in this country than they are solving so have declared it open season on the profession.
We have only two ways of fighting back. First, we have to be so good at our jobs—and so clear in showing just how—that no one can fault us. Second, we have to fight back by bringing light to even the most ill-informed of the attempts to attack teachers, showing them for just what they are.