I’m going to the Red For Ed Rally at the Indiana Statehouse this morning. But I’ll be wearing blue…
I read an article this week on the Indiana Talks website in which the author tried to correct some “misconceptions” about what the teachers want:
“I’ve been monitoring the push back on social media and, while I’m never going to let that bring me down, it does dampen the excitement a bit to read the comments of so many misinformed people. I want to address some of the most common themes I’ve seen in the negative comments online.“
Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the author delivered on this promise.
In fact, reading the article, I got the feeling that teachers generally don’t understand why someone would disagree with the agendas of their teachers’ union… It seems like they are defending themselves against accusations very few are making.
But, rather than unpack that article point for point, I think it may be quicker to clarify some misconceptions about why I’m wearing Blue today.
(Believe it or not, critics of Red for Ed aren’t simply being “negative” and trying to rain on the parade. I promise!)
So here’s my own list of 5 Misconceptions about the Wear Blue to Choose movement:
#1. Critics of Red for Ed don’t support teachers. This is frankly unfair and insulting. Most of us ARE teachers, whether we’re parents or homeschoolers or educators in private/charter schools or educators in PUBLIC schools who realize the union does not represent our voices any longer so we’ve opted out. We support teachers! But we realize that “support” doesn’t always mean unrestricted agreement with the political agenda of the teachers union. BIG DIFFERENCE!
#2. Critics of Red For Ed want to blame teachers for every bad thing. On the contrary, I do NOT believe that teachers are solely responsible for fixing the many issues in the education system. In fact, that’s why I believe it’s pretty presumptuous and misguided to think it’s a teacher’s job to lobby at the courthouse and set everyone straight… All the talk about “let us do OUR jobs” and “we’re the experts” starts to be off-putting after awhile because it sounds like TEACHERS are the ones who are taking all the responsibilities on themselves. I’m wearing blue because I think that our issues start at home and parents/families will be the biggest agents of change if we’re going to revolutionize education in this country. I’ll repeat: I am NOT blaming “bad teachers,” and that’s why I don’t need them to wear Red Shirts and ask for more taxpayer money.
#3. Critics of Red For Ed are Misinformed. No, sometimes people understand what’s going on and we still disagree. Again, I must remind our Red-Shirt Friends that many of the people who are most critical of teacher’s Unions were forced to be members up until a few years ago when a law change allowed them to opt out. These are gifted and dedicated teachers just like the ones who believe Glenda Ritz is the best thing since sliced bread, but they don’t feel safe to disagree with the Union out loud because they would be called “Misinformed” and “negative.” (Or worse.) It’s not fair to assume that everyone would be on your team if they were just paying better attention.
#4. Critics of Red for Ed are Rich and Greedy. I mean, I’m starting to feel like all of these misconceptions are the same. They’re just strawman criticisms of our career or intelligence or income level. The truth is, when you take party affiliation out of the equation and conduct polls of people about the principles of Vouchers or School Choice or Tax Caps, then underprivileged communities are EXTREMELY in favor of small-government and Conservative ideas. Poor families know the failing government policies hurt them worst of all, and they’re tired of Unions speaking for them. Underprivileged parents want to make education choices for their own children.
#5. Critics of Red for Ed Just want to Be Divisive. Of course that isn’t true, either. In fact, I’ll be wearing blue today knowing there are many things that all of us agree about! (As I’ve mentioned already, I agree that the school system isn’t responsible for the unstable home lives of many students.) But I have honest questions which I just can’t get off my mind: HOW MUCH MONEY IS NEEDED FOR A SO-CALLED “FULLY-FUNDED” BUDGET? If tests don’t accurately reflect what students know, then how CAN we measure how well public schools are performing compared with private, charter, and homeschools? Are you comfortable with the fact that Unions don’t have to disclose how they spend dues money and are heavily involved in politics?
In summary, I’m wearing blue because I will not give up my responsibility to become informed, to think, and to speak for MY KIDS. I realize the teacher’s union often suggests that if you love teachers, parents, and students you will wear red to stand up against the Crooked Politicians. But, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. People can care very deeply about education and still disagree with the solutions proposed by (some) teachers. Honest disagreement isn’t the same as ignorant negativity.
I’m wearing Blue To Choose because School Choice represents the Parents’ Voice better than unions.