The Left tries to reframe our expectations

Teacher affirmationIn September 2011, I wrote a post about the way teachers constantly present themselves as the hardest working, most underpaid people in America.  I have a great deal of respect for teachers and, to the extent I deliver my kids to their care, I want them to be decent, knowledgeable, skillful, hardworking people — and that’s not something that can be had for free.  Nevertheless, I don’t see them as the martyrs that they see looking back from their mirrors.

I touched upon that subject again just this past September, after I’d gotten deluged by Facebook posts from teacher friends, all of them reminding us in a cute way that no one works harder in America than a teacher or for less money compared to their work output.  Again, with all due respect for teachers, I think many people, including the troops, would quibble with this.  I contrasted the Democrats’ deification of teachers and compared it with their denigration of doctors, something expressed obliquely through Obamacare.  Doctors train for years in their profession, work heinous hours, and truly hold people’s lives in their hands — and Obamacare is intended to increase their work load and cut their compensation.  My conclusion was that socialism prefers propagandists, something that teachers are perfectly situated to do, over providers.

And speaking of socialists and the way they value different categories of workers, Daniel Hannan has written about the British deification of its National Health Service, a system that is above reproach.  It’s not above reproach because it’s so wonderful, mind you.  It’s above reproach because no one is allowed to reproach it.  Hannan notes that there are two classes that speak well of the system:  those who work in it or are ideological supporters of socialized medicine, and those who are loudly grateful to have received decent treatment from it.  Hannan makes two points about this second category.  First, they’re amiable followers of the more strident ideologues.  Second, their gratitude that the system works is itself an indictment of the system’s myriad failings:

What of the wider constituency? What of the undoctrinaire people who say, with conviction, “the NHS saved my grandmother’s life”? Well, to make a rather unpopular point, she was saved by the clinicians involved, not by Britain’s unique prohibition of private finance in healthcare provision. In a country as wealthy as ours, we should expect a certain level of service. We can be grateful to the people involved without treating the whole process as a miracle.

When else, after all, do we become so emotional? Do we get off planes saying “I owe my life to British Airways: they flew me all the way here in one piece”? Of course not: that’s what is meant to happen. Our assumption doesn’t insult the pilots any more than expecting a certain level of competence in healthcare “insults our hardworking doctors and nurses”. On the contrary, it compliments them.

The elision of the “hardworking doctors and nurses” with the state monopoly that employs them is what allows opponents of reform to shout down any criticism. People who complain are treated, not as wronged consumers, but as pests. People who argue that there might be a better way of organising the system are treated, not as proponents of a different view, but as enemies.

Naturally, the above passage made me think of the obeisance we’re expected to pay to America’s teachers.  The demand that we recognize what wonderful martyrs they are is a tacit acknowledgment that too many of them are government drones who are, quite rationally, milking a system that gives itself up for milking.  This doesn’t mean we should denigrate teachers or take them for granted, but there’s a strong element of a “methinks we all do protest too much” mindset when it comes to the ritual demand that we acknowledge that teachers are society’s new martyrs.  After all, as Hannan said, they have a job to do and they should be doing it.

Incidentally, while Hannan doesn’t address the issue of teachers, he does point out that our being bullied into expressing exaggerated surprise and appreciation when there’s competence in a public sector area isn’t limited to Britain’s NHS.  His other example is the UN, which you all know I believe is one of the most vile, evil, antisemitic, child exploitative, anti-American, money-wasting institutions on earth, as well as a few other institutions that, coincidentally, are also usually anti-American and antisemitic:

Any organisation that is spared criticism becomes, over time, inefficient, insensitive, intolerant. It has happened to the United Nations. It has happened to the mega-charities. It happened, for a long time, to the European Union (though not over the past five years). The more lofty the ideal, the more reluctant people are to look at the grubby reality.

Cheers to Hannan for stating that, while the Emperor isn’t precisely walking around naked, his clothes are scarcely the golden, bejeweled garments that his sycophants claim he’s wearing.

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  • jj

    Your headline gets to the point quickly and cleanly.  We’ve all had our expectations diminished, and I’m uncertain why we’ve allowed anyone to get away with this.  As one who spent years commuting – to the tune of about three hours a day, coming and going – into New York City on the trains, it was amazing to me how often the people running the trains expected a cookie for getting the thing in somewhere close to being ‘on time.’  It’s supposed to be on time – every day, every trip!  On time is normative, and if you can’t do that then find some other way to wear out your old clothes!  There is no special reward for doing your damn job!
    And yet.  Here we are, somehow having arrived in a place where any demonstration of momentary competence is seen as somehow special, instead of routine.  I don’t know how that happened.  Unions, of course, have a lot to do with it, but still, we shouldn’t have to be amazed when a kid graduates from high school semi-literate, somebody builds a run of cars free of recalls, and the train arrives at Grand Central on time – even under the increasingly elastic standard of ‘on time.’  (It used to be ‘on time’ if it got there within two minutes of when it was due, then it was three minutes, now it’s five.  Eventually it’ll be forty-five minutes and they’ll be trumpeting their ‘perfect’ record!)  That is what is supposed to happen, it shouldn’t call for a celebration!
    It’s amazing how surprised we are when things actually work as advertised, or expected.  Right now I’m getting some wry amusement right here at the house.  Ordered some new carpet for downstairs – 102 yards total.  The installers brought it along to put it in, and before they were very far into the job the head installer kid was on the phone to the company telling them – and us – it’s a disaster.  (I learned something: when the mill turns out the carpet, it’s white.  I didn’t know that.  To get it to the color you want they dye it.  If the people dying the roll aren’t paying attention, one end of the roll can be left in the dye a little longer than the rest of it, and across the length of the roll the color changes.  Obviously, if your area’s large enough to require cutting, the two sides of the join won’t match.  They don’t – and the join is right down the middle of the room.)  It got by the dyers, then it got by the inspectors at the mill – so now they get to come back to pull it all out and reinstall a new 102 yards.  On them.  Owing to the new carpeting, the Iron Butterfly decided on new furniture for the guest-room.  The two guys who delivered that – two weeks after the company swore up and down it would be here – didn’t even have it all unpacked before calling our attention to the fact that a couple of the cartons had obviously been drop-kicked off a truck somewhere along the line, and the headboard is scraped and damaged, and the bureau is cracked.  (This stuff probably left the factory all right, but then got into the hands of union truck drivers.)  The headboard and bureau will also be replaced.  Also on them.
    So here are two companies, a carpet mill in Georgia and a furniture factory in North Carolina, the end result of whose efforts are about the equivalent of a ride on the Long Island Railroad.  Except unlike the Long Island Railroad or Metro-North a dead loss to them counts.  You could wonder how many times a year this happens – and you could further wonder how the hell they stay in business.  Is this really the new normal?
    I know it is, for the railroads, the teachers, the cops, the municipal ‘services’ (I use the word loosely) people, and any form of civil servant – but I am a bit surprised that private industry is so dicked up.  Then again it’s a union workforce at the mill, and union guys are loading, unloading, and driving the trucks, so I guess it is normal.
    But, back to your point, nobody is more full of s*** than the teachers, who do an execrable job by any measure, and for whom any flash of competence is both brief and rare.  I’ve said this before, but if you can’t tell me – on the spot, without going and looking it up – the difference between a transitive and an intransitive verb, then don’t try telling me you’re an English teacher.  It’s been a very long time since I’ve found one who could, and if you can’t then you’re a poseur, not a teacher.

  • Ymarsakar

    When the Japanese talk about good teachers, sensei (s), and kyoushi, they never mention class sizes at all.
    That’s a hint.
    As far as I know, the japanese treat a “class” as an internal community, with its own student run logistics and command team. Thus it doesn’t matter how large or small it is, what matters is who is leading the discipline team and who the leaders are.
    The American system of a “class” is a rotating tax farm where teachers come in to milk the students on a 6-7 class schedule. Which is reformed now into a system where teachers stay at their desk and the students randomly rotate in for their lecture. The students are just homeless hobos, with their locker as their home and port of shelter.
    Modern US teachers are just goons and soldiers of the union leadership. They pay dues whether they want to or not. Their dues are used to make war on kids and American patriots, destroying families and homes. The union leader tells the teachers to do something and the teachers obey.
    Teachers are too weak to be considered even authoritarian. They Have No Authority.

  • raymondjelli

    The teachers did everything they could to shoot down vouchers. If they were as valuable and underpaid as they say they are they would have welcomed it or some other option that would have allowed them to be in the private sector and make the bleep loads of bucks they say they are really worth.
    Teachers have pretended to be an entity other than the government. They have pretended they are heroically making do while the politicians play their games. Sorry but that’s obviously not true. They wanted government ed to remain a monopoly and they got it. Like Obama and Obamacare they now own it. The failures are theirs and no more pretending they are just victims of a bad system.

  • Matt_SE

    Don’t forget the other two members of the (un-) holy trinity: cops and firefighters.
    I know both teachers and cops are heavily unionized, not so sure about firefighters…but with the way Obama touts them, I wouldn’t doubt it.
    We need to outlaw public unions again.
    As far as the NHS goes, we’ve heard the horror stories for years. Then, they put on that incredible, excrable show during the Olympics…I couldn’t believe my eyes! That was North Korea levels of propaganda right there.
    Which is one of the main symptoms (the other being rising Islamism/PC culture) that makes me weep for the UK.

  • Matt_SE

    Supporters of the NHS Obamacare don’t say, “This organisation program may never be criticised,” of course. What they say is, “Instead of knocking the NHS Obamacare, why don’t we work together to improve it?”
    There…fixed it for you.
    The leftists are trying to co-opt the Republicans in their failure in exactly the same manner that the leftists in the UK try to co-opt their own critics.
    Leftists are so predictable. God, how I loathe them.

    • Matt_SE

      each instance of NHS was supposed to have a strikethrough. I guess you can’t do that and italics at the same time. I should’ve previewed it before posting.

  • Call me Lennie

    My Dad was a doctor, who had nine kids, none of whom followed him into the medical proffession.  And it wasn’t because we lacked the brainpower as eight out of nine of us have Master’s or Doctorate degrees.  We could sense at an early age that the job was eating him alive.  The worst of it was the getting up at any hour of the night to go see some patient in crisis at a hospital  By the age of forty, he was burned out of his general practice and had moved into a less stressful 9 to 5 job in Hospital Administration.
    As for teachers .. whatever serious problems they encounter are completely the fault of the breakdown in discipline in schools and society in the last forty years.  Completely. If you know your material, the job is not that difficult — but the bratty, indifferent disrespectful kids can make the job a pure hell, especially if you just can’t abide that sort of thing.  And it goes without saying that the cynical, nihilistic proggressive pop culture is to blame for their rotten attitudes

  • Ymarsakar

    It doesn’t really matter what the attitude of the kids are, since kids by their nature obey authority. Modern US teachers, not having any authority or spines or strength, are not respected for a reason. And that reason is a good one.
    The best the Education Department can do to train teachers is to get them to use “collective punishment”, ala out of some Soviet gulag or Obama propaganda/IRS camp. Their best is not nearly good enough.

  • Matt_SE

    Only little kids obey authority…and sometimes, not even them.
    Do teens “by their nature obey authority?” You must be kidding. You are correct though, in that US teachers have few options to rein in unruly students (if they have the will).
    Completely agree with Call me Lennie. Leftists poison the culture which makes kids unruly and disrespectful, and it makes their parents less attentive. The unions (supported again by leftists) are primarily interested in their own benefits, not helping to mold kids (let alone repairing the damage other leftists have done).

    The job shouldn’t be that hard, but you’d never know that from listening to leftists. They elevate teachers to the level of secular saints.

  • David Foster

    I’ve seen research suggesting that CLASS size matters less than SCHOOL size.
    There is really no reason for a high school to have more students than an auto assembly plant has workers on a shift…UNLESS the school is so top-heavy with administrators that only a very large institution can support them at all.

  • lee

    My mom was a teacher for over thirty years, and she pretty much agreed with most of what every wrote hear. They WERE underpaid when she started, in general, but by the time she retired, she felt they were OVERPAID.She also thought vouchers were a great idea, and with a little luck, ciuld destroythe public schools-the only way she thought they could be saved.

  • Matt_SE

    Yep…sometimes you have to burn the village to save it.

  • Ymarsakar

    “Do teens “by their nature obey authority?” You must be kidding.”
    You ever hear of peer pressure?

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