February 8, 2022

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Let’s respect teachers as the trained professionals that they are, shall we?

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In the Miami Herald, writer Leonard Pitts Jr says it’s time for state governments to back on out of the classroom. He offers a modest proposal.

Some of you will recognize the reference to a famous 1729 essay by Jonathan Swift, some won’t and a few may remember it vaguely for advocating that people eat the children of the poor, failing to realize (as often happens) that Swift was actually satirizing society’s callousness towards those children. Which raises a question: Given that diversity of comprehension, how would you teach Swift in 2022? Would you even try, knowing how easily it could provoke a visit from some furious parent claiming her child was traumatized?

Not so long ago, Swift was considered required reading for cultural literacy. People who read and thought about literature for a living had reached a consensus that his work, challenging though it was, was important. But nowadays, that consensus is supposed to also include school board members and parents, most of whom, we may safely assume, haven’t read the work.

How are those interests supposed to align? The fact is, they can’t. That’s how you get embarrassments like the one in Tennessee. Small wonder a graph of kids’ test scores looks like a ski slope.

So here’s my modest proposal: How about we respect educators as the trained professionals they are? How about we trust their judgment? How about we stop requiring them to reach consensus with those who have not the first clue? If a parent feels their child can’t handle some challenging material, fine: empower that parent to opt the child out of the lesson — not to deny the lesson to everyone else.

Read the full piece here. 

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