Teacher Appreciation Day 2010 should have each child bring an apple to the classroom, but with the increased politicizing of education and schools, not everyone gets into the spirit. Are teachers’ unions undermining the parental support base?
Teacher Appreciation Day 2010
‘If you can read this, thank a teacher’ and other sentiments are the stuff of bumper stickers. Truth be told, any day should be teacher appreciation day. Educating children of various backgrounds and abilities is not an easy task and the importance of Teacher Appreciation Day 2010 cannot be clearer.
That being said, teacher strikes and the politicizing of the classroom – usually at the behest of teachers’ unions – are making it hard for parents. A case in point is the National Education Association’s sample news release(1) that starts off innocuously enough with suggesting that local media be alerted to the opportunity for celebrating a teacher appreciation day. It is not until halfway through the release that the reader recognizes the political statement for what it is.
Appreciate Teachers by Getting Behind the Unions?
The NEA suggests that teachers advocate for their students and deserve fair work evaluations. Supporters are urged to forego the traditional apple on the desk – and even the thank-you card – in favor of becoming actively embroiled in the teachers union struggles germane to the area.
Politicizing Los Angeles Classrooms
If the sample press release for Teacher Appreciation Day 2010 seems more like a call to arms than an admonition for parents and communities to take time out for a heartfelt thank-you, Los Angeles is hearing the message loud and clear. The website for the United Teachers Los Angeles(2) is a call to solidarity for a wide array of politically explosive causes.
Teachers’ attention is directed to bargaining news, upsets about teacher effectiveness recommendations and a directive to join the “United for Immigration Reform 2010” march. It also reminds teachers that every Tuesday is “Red T-shirt Day” to show solidarity with the union. This show or solidarity obviously takes place in the classroom.
Teachers or Political Operatives?
Teacher strikes that oppose fiscally dictated layoffs – in times of daily private sector layoffs — sour parents’ abilities to relate to their children’s educators. The exhortation to forego traditional expressions of gratitude (for the sake of political support) makes Teacher Appreciation Day 2010 even more precarious. Driving home the reason for the discomfort is a Los Angeles Times exposé(3) that reveals the L.A. teacher’s union to be a major political player with money to burn.
Going back to the year 2000, the California Teachers Association outspent the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, various casino operator lobbying groups and even cigarette maker Philip Morris. The union spent more than $211 million in an effort to shape California politics. This included lobbying efforts, campaign contributions and of course the fight to add ballot measures (or prevent them from being added) during elections.
Just recently, the California Teachers Association contributed $1 million to fight Proposition 8. Concurrently, 1 in 5 kids drop out of local schools. Although Teacher Appreciation Day 2010 should be a time to express gratitude, it is difficult to follow the directives of the NEA and associated groups, as classrooms turn into political battle zones.
(1)National Education Association. “Sample News Release” (accessed May 4, 2010)
(2)United Teachers Los Angeles; accessed May 4, 2010
(3)Los Angeles Times. “Teachers union tops list of state political spenders” (accessed May 4, 2010)