The Emotional Appeal for Blaming the Teachers

Despite challenges facing public education today, teachers are not solely to blame.

From the Daily Kos:

 I was disheartened to hear Chris Hayes on C-SPAN say that the educational “reform” movement is “winning the argument.” That’s not to say they’re winning on any factual level, Hayes meant that in terms of public debate, anything short of blaming the teachers means supporting the status quo.

It’s worth noting that this scapegoat has resonance for a reason, there’s an emotional appeal for blaming the teachers.

The Poverty Problem

The US education system isn’t broken, it’s being disrupted by poverty. As the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test shows the United States ranked in the low 20s but at the same time it has some of the highest child poverty in the industrialized world.

When the effects of child poverty are factored in, the US actually outperforms every other country in the world. That is, all things being equal, we still have the best education in the world: an area with 10% child poverty in the US will, on average, do better than an area with 10% child poverty in Finland.

While the struggle with being poor has an obvious effect on learning, it also has effects for funding. Schools that have a higher poverty rate will have lower funding for the schools because of a lower tax base.

Indeed, these problems have been expanded by education policy and increases in poverty following the recession.

Bad Teachers

This leaves a problem, if it’s objectively shown to be poverty then why is there an effort at demonizing teachers, or rather, why assume people would believe its the teachers that are the problem? It’s the dominant position, everyone from Fox News to Jonathan Alter thinks its the teachers fault. So, agendas aside, why even push the story?

The answer lies in the anecdotal and emotional experience of people. Lets face it, you’ve had a bad teacher in your life. The problem is that one bad teacher is out of dozens of good (or at least adequate) teachers. Thus it’s wrong to assume that someones personal experience accounts for a national epidemic.

Unfortunate the media does just that, it takes a personal experiences and turns it into a national problem. . . .

This is an excerpt from an article published Sunday on the Daily Kos headlined, “The Emotional Appeal for Blaming the Teachers.”  Click here to read the entire article.

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1 Comment

Filed under Achievement Gap, Teacher Bashing

One response to “The Emotional Appeal for Blaming the Teachers

  1. Ron R

    Blaming teachers in poor, urban areas is like blaming the police for the crime rate in those same areas. Statistically, the police in Lower Merion are doing a better job than the police in Philly’s badlands. Rational minds would never compare the two and blame the police force. Yet, that same rational is not afforded teachers.

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