Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The NEA, Eduwonk, and the paradox of promoting oneself selflessly

I don't generally refer to other blogsite posts, but this one from Eduwonk caught my attention. In reference to an ECS forum in Delaware on teacher quality, an NEA representative's blunder made at least one other person in attendance blush. And clearly this guffaw has incensed the Eduwonk some. I guess I have a somewhat different response to this NEA member's comment of "the reason teacher salaries are so low in this country is that the NEA spent the last thirty years focusing mostly on student achievement. " Yes this sounds terrible but I would have liked to hear it in context. My guess is that this person who works on teacher pay for the NEA was trying to encapsulate the dedication and selflessness that characterize many of our teachers. To be fair, focusing on student achievement is a cause worth mentioning, and he did. But he did it in a very backhanded manner that made the sacrifice of many teachers sound like buyer's remorse.

There is an interesting question in there that I believe was glossed over in dismay: the role teachers play in their own compensation and recognition. Is it really in bad taste to remind people now and again of the hard work and sacrifice of so many teachers? Being on message is key. And clearly there are better ways to self advocate. However, one bad comment should never pigeonhole an entire profession.


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