The So-Called Right to Teach
The stories seem to be everywhere these days: Crisis-level teacher shortages and how to fillthem. Need-based fast-track pathways to the classroom, for those who just don't have the time or inclination to, you know, seriously study or practice the complex work of teaching. Questioning the need for teacher licenses or advanced certification. And tiresome, never-ending repetitionsof the old "cash cow" canard--that universities invest little in education research, while allowing anyone with a pulse into programs that should be highly selective.
And now, a new catchphrase: The Right to Teach.
While the terminology is novel, the idea certainly isn't. We've been trying to do education on the cheap since Horace Mann rode around promoting the idea that it would benefit the nation to offer free schooling to every child.
We say we want good schools. We say we want an educated citizenry, and a well-trained, nimble workforce. We even say that we want equity, and justice, for our young.
But we don't. We want a simple, cost-effective solution for keeping children off the streets, providing them with basic literacy and introducing them to compliance. Teaching? A low-level jobs program for technical workers, who can follow a script and relentlessly pursue test scores.
Some so-called reformers are now openly backing away from even rhetorical support for equity, justice, honoring diversity and pursuit of integration. Maybe it's not so bad, they suggest, for kids to go to school with "their own kind." After all, solving the seemingly intractable problems of segregation (read: generational racism) and poverty are just "too expensive."
In other words, let's put poor minority children in for-profit schools with inadequately paid, untrained teachers and call it a day. To everything, churn, churn, churn.
In this country, we are fond of polishing our human rights bona fides--life, liberty, pursuit of something like happiness, or at least contentment. It's our absolute right to speak our piece in a public forum or on TV even if it's loathsome. We have the right to vote, to worship or not, to be treated fairly by the justice system, and to live in the way we see fit, as long as we're not impinging on anyone else's rights.
There are (or should be) other automatic rights--rights that feel pretty shaky, right now, in the best country in the world: The right to clean water, and food. The right to basic health care. The right to personal dignity, and safety.
There is, however, no "right to teach," in a public institution, for compensation. None. Nobody has The So-Called Right to Teach - Teacher in a Strange Land - Education Week Teacher: