Liberal Teachers

It surprises me that so many teachers are liberals.  My associations with many dozens of teachers over the years has shown that we’re almost unanimously in agreement on the things that hold back student achievement: apathetic parenting and cultural poison that subverts our efforts.  These are both (at least in our current political climate) essentially conservative concerns. 

And yet, our most vocal teachers, as well as administrators, unions, and districts, tend to obsess over ideas that are inherently liberal: increasing spending, adding more bureaucrats and programs to the system, and increasing regulation of what individual campuses can do.  This, despite the total failure of any of these things to do any good at all for the several decades that they’ve been in vogue.

Anybody else reminded of the caucus race in Disney’s version of Alice in Wonderland?  Leftist policies tend to bring that to mind for me.

Anyway, I think I realize now why so many education professionals are liberals.  It must be an automatic defense mechanism, because being a conservative teacher is enough to drive anyone insane.

It’s easy to keep running around trying all these new programs in our schools and crying for more money, because that strategy can never fail: if results don’t improve, just insist that we haven’t come up with enough programs and money yet.  The beautiful thing with this strategy is that it allows us to focus on things we can control: the teaching profession can keep tweaking the details of campus routines endlessly and without benefit, but (much like the thinking behind the stimulus package) at least we’re doing something, right? 

Certainly this approach is much easier (and more sanity-friendly) than resigning to the truth that the vast majority of the factors that influence the quality of our work are well beyond our control.  Why would any administrator try to improve the conditions of a community that produces lackluster students–a Herculean task, to say the least–when he or she can just get on board with the established program: fiddle around with the procedures for department meetings in your school, assign teachers more paperwork, and lobby for more education spending?

There’s just no natural incentive for teachers to be conservatives, because it will only lead to more frustration. 

My students this year are ten times more productive than my students were during my first few years teaching.  Did I become a better teacher?  Not at all; I do most things exactly the same way.  I just got a job in a better part of town.


One comment on “Liberal Teachers

  1. Is the watered-down trendy curriculum popular in so many schools also explained by this theory? Do schools, for example, teach whole language reading because it’s easier for them to do than phonics? After all, good reading instruction depends largely on a literate atmosphere at home, and an immunity to the illiterate popular culture around us. If those are absent, do the schools then (perhaps subconsciously and by default) end up teaching a weaker curriculum?

    Are fuzzy math trends, self esteem units, and multicultural programs ultimately examples of the path of least resistance in operation?

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