Stop Saying That

When the governor of my state announced his plan for a new school funding formula, he said, "this is not about teachers, this is about the students." I wish he, and others, would quit saying that.

We hear this refrain almost every time there is an announcement about school reform or funding. It is meant to send a message: teachers do not care about kids.

I had hoped that after Newtown, with teachers selflessly giving their lives for their students, the 'teachers don't care' mantra would stop. Wrong again.

But here is the deal: this type of rhetoric is not only unhelpful, it is just plain wrong.

First, rhetoric like this does not help. We never hear it about other public policy debates. (Imagine: "This farm bill is not about farmers, it is about cows.") I cannot for the life of me figure out why policy makers think teachers are the enemy when it comes to education reform.

It might be that what they really mean is that this is not about the teacher unions. But that approach is incorrect as well. As a veteran administrator, I can assure you that there has not been any proof that non-unionized teachers do better in helping students achieve than those who are unionized. What does matter is how well teacher are supported in doing their jobs, and it's that support that teachers unions fight for.

The real problem with the idea that education reform and budgets are 'not about teachers' is this: if you want students to succeed, any reform must include teachers.

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