Friday, October 2, 2020

Governor Gaslight


I’m not in the habit of name-calling here, but, in the case of Governor Gaslight, I’ll make an exception.

Yet again Maryland’s Governor has squandered an opportunity to support education in a time of crisis and has taken a swipe at teachers instead. “Teachers aren’t unions,” he claims, suggesting that union representation  and advocacy is false, and that “real teachers” are an entirely different animal. 

Teachers know better. But Hogan’s audience is his anti-union base. I am sure they find it heartening to hear that “ real teachers” are anxious to return to school buildings if only they weren’t prevented by those obstructionist union thugs.

Of course that’s not true, and Hogan knows it’s not true. It’s just politics, where you say the words you hope will get you what you want.

What it most certainly is not: school. In school you have to do the assignment to get the credit. If Hogan’s first priority were to have students safely return to schools he would have focused his efforts on the things that need to be done in order for that to happen. He hasn’t. From a teacher’s response to yesterday’s press event:

When he can figure out how to fit 30 kids in a classroom 6 feet apart at all times then teachers might listen to him. Does he even have a plan? What about buses, playgrounds, cafeterias, etc. Better air ventilation, daily health screenings, more nurses at school? It’s teachers saying we aren’t ready because teachers are the ones who know all the things that need to be planned for. 

Mr. Hogan, well known as a business sort of fellow, has made the reopening of businesses and increased capacity his priority. Neither has made the reopening of school buildings any safer. So, not only is Hogan not doing the homework he needs to do, he continues to essentially do the wrong assignment over and over again. Yet he would like to stand at the podium and lecture teachers.

Teachers belong to unions because unions represent them in the face of this kind of small-minded, disingenuous criticism. Unions do not exist because of some innate selfishness on the part of teachers. Of course things like fair wages and safe working conditions are goals, and they should be. But the primary goals of teacher’s unions in Maryland (and all over this country) are centered around adequate resources for students. The first priorities for teachers are students and families. 

If Governor Hogan truly cares about reopening school buildings he is going to need to do the work to make that safe. He’s not getting a free pass here. There’s no partial credit being awarded when lives are at stake.

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