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As a parent, I look forward to parent-teacher conferences. Even if the news is bad, and sometimes it is, it’s better than the information I’m getting at home. The daily school conversation with my children usually goes like this - “How was school, what did you do today?” I ask. “It was fine, I’m hungry,” is usually the response. My children are typical, from what I understand, in that the only thing they will open up about are social issues; and even telling me about their social lives will sadly, most likely end during middle school. It’s difficult for me to assess their educational progress and help in areas needed until I meet with the teacher. My children’s teachers and I work as a team, towards a common goal, which is how it should be in the public education system. Unfortunately, my situation isn’t the norm in many areas of the country. In Chicago, for instance, the teachers’ goals appear to be focused more on self than students. If the teacher’s union strike late last year didn’t make that clear enough, union president Karen Lewis recently drove home the point as to where Chicago teachers’ loyalties lie.
During her keynote at the New York Collective of Radical Educators annual conference, Lewis relayed her history of lying to parents and purposefully frustrating the school principal to, “take ‘em out.” Said Lewis:
I used to just love parent conferences because I would just lie to the parents. ‘He’s wonderful.’ And the parents would look at me like, ‘Are you talking about my kid?’ And the kid would sit there like, ‘When is she gunna blow the whistle on me?’ Now I have a hostage. Guess who I never had any trouble out of ever again? My hostage.
Lewis then continued to council teachers on what they could do if an issue wasn’t in their contract:
Do you have an insane principal? Anybody have an insane principal? Take ‘em out. What that means is remove them, by the way, Fox News... How do you do that? You organize to make their lives so miserable.
Lewis clearly believes that education is a responsibility of the state. Partnering with parents to help students succeed doesn’t even appear to be a consideration. To sum up Lewis’ advice, manipulate everyone around you to achieve your goals should your lengthy contract not give you ultimate power; and those were her words in public...
What is going on behind the scenes in our schools? As student Benji Backer reveals, teachers are not only engaged in manipulation but indoctrination as well. If teachers believe they can behave however they want, why even bother with contracts? Unsurprisingly, the tactics favored by Lewis aren’t working. Wednesday saw hundreds of parents and teachers protesting plans in Chicago to close 54 public schools. Many teachers out there will still follow Lewis’ advice, and in the meantime parents will be left in the dark about what is actually happening at school. The bigger question, however, is how many schools must close before someone stops the out of control teacher’s unions from destroying public education from the inside?