Another local newspaper, in writing a headline atop the Falls Church superintendent of schools’ annual back-to-school column, opted to go with “What a Fantastic Time to Be in Public Education!”
Alas for the many high-quality educators who are now back in the classroom and striving to do their absolute best, we came up with a number of of reasons why 2022 may NOT be a “fantastic time” to be a teacher in the public schools:
• A workplace environment where mediocrity too often is the acceptable norm, so much so that some excellent teachers have to keep their heads down for fear of drawing umbrage from colleagues just going through the motions and incensed if they are ever shown up.
• Parents (some) who were out of control in Northern Virginia in years gone by and seem to have only ramped up the crazy recently. And no, this isn’t about those who show up at School Board meetings to criticize policies; it’s about those who make the lives of teachers, coaches and administrators miserable because their little angels aren’t getting special treatment. Every educator has horror stories.
• School Boards that no longer are about education, but about political/ideological inculcation of young minds.
• An increasing union presence ushered in during the brief period Democrats controlled the General Assembly and now being implemented by local School Boards, which will only further degrade the ability of teachers to do their jobs. (Anyone who by this point truly believes teacher unions exist for the benefit of the rank and file really needs professional intervention – it just isn’t so.)
• Use the wrong pronoun, teachers, and you’ll find yourself hauled into court by an aggrieved kindergartner with early-onset gender confusion and a lawyer on speed-dial, or say the wrong (even if it’s actually the factually correct) thing in a history class and have picketers and TV-news crews outside the school by the end of the day.
• And of course the very real threat that, despite promises schools won’t be locked down again if another public-health crisis emerges, weak leaders will acquiesce, sending teachers and students scurrying back to their respective homes, a sure recipe for failure as the recent past so abundantly has proved.
“Fantastic”? No, not a fantastic time to be in public education. All the more reason we should thank those who put up with all the garbage that is involved and still give 100% or more to their students. They are true heroes.v