Why The Scorn?

In the wake of numerous state governments taking actions that were perceived to be to the detriment of public school teachers many teachers abandoned their classrooms and took to the streets in protest. They did not receive the response from the American people that they hoped for and expected. This left them angry and perplexed; they were left wondering, “Why the scorn?

Teachers Protest Spending Cuts & Union Busting

These teachers’ confusion and shock over the wide-spread scorn and derision they recieved is strong evidence that even supposedly educated people can and will exhibit egregious levels of ignorance when they’re forced to deal with subjects or situations that attack their comfortable and self-serving preconceptions and/or delusions.

It shouldn’t come as a shock to these teachers that they recieved scorn from many Americans when they drew attention to themselves with their protests. The reasons for it are well-known and manifold, some of which are summarized below in no particular order:

  • US Public Education System Is A Failure
  • Antagonism Between Families And System
  • Rejection Of Liberalism
  • Collective Guilt & Punishment
  • Lack Of Accountability
  • Teacher Are Overpaid

Whether or not any or all of these issues are completely accurate and true or not and whether or not it is fair and just to apply the blame for them equally to all members of the teaching profession is immaterial. Perception is often more important, pragmatically speaking, than substance and these are all well-known perceptions.

US Public Education System Is A Failure

Each year America spends $10,267 per student (K – 12), which totals approximately 4.0% of our GDP.  This is 41% higher than the average among developed countries. Yet American students consistently perform below the average on all comparative tests between these same nations. That would be most people’s definition of failure and a reason for indictment of the system as a whole.

Sadly for teachers, they’re the visible face of this failed system. For most people they’re the only visible face of this failed system and should expect to bear the brunt of people’s anger — even though these teachers are, more often than not, not the actual problem and are as much victims of the failed system as anyone else.

Antagonism Between Families and System

There’s always been a certain level of conflict between America’s educational system and American families; this is the natural result of parents having to entrust their children to the care and tutelage of the system.  During the last two generations  however, this has escalated into a consistent antagonism.

This is due to a growing disagreement between the government, the school system, the teachers, and the parents over what the proper role of teachers and schools are. It’s the sort of disagreement that fosters deep antagonism and polarizes all parties involved.

Rejection of Liberalism

Starting the 1960s, the educational system in America took a turn towards Liberalism. This Leftward bias has continued to this day within the educational system. By and large, however, Americans have rejected most, if not all, of the Liberal agenda. This places the teachers and the bulk of the American public at loggerheads.

Our schools have always been used to mold America’s children into good citizens of America; it’s a normal part of their education. The problem for the teachers is that they’re consisting trying to interject values and ideologies into the classrooms that are at odds with — and of often diametrically opposed to the values and ideology of their students’ parents and of society as a whole.

Collective Guilt & Punishment

Most public school teachers, and all the ones protesting, are members of unions and a large portion of the American people hate the unions, especially public sector unions. Hence, they have at as a minimum antipathy towards these teachers.

Two synergistic societal factors cause and/or exacerbate this: teachers are the visible part of their unions and the privileges and benefits of their collective bargaining carry equal burdens and detriments of collective guilt for the actions of those unions;  society since the 1960s has been indoctrinated to accept collective guilt — guiltism in its various forms — as a normalized idea.

Teachers are now facing the unintended consequences of these factors.

Lack of Accountability

One drastic public relations issue that teachers face is that they’re, not completely fairly but also not without cause, thought of as being unaccountable for properly and effectively performing their jobs. Teaching is not a results oriented professions if one considers educated students as the intended result. A teacher will not lose their job over poorly teaching their subject matter.

When almost everyone else who is employed has to achieve actual results in order to stay employed and teachers don’t — a situation made worse by union contracts — there is bound to be a deep-seated resentment created by this disparity. This resentment in turn is exacerbated by the overall failure of America’s educational system.

No, this is not entirely fair.  Teachers have to work within the rules of the educational system which is not focused on actually educating students. It is, however, the things are.

Teachers Are Overpaid

There’s a definite perception that teachers are overpaid for the work that they do. Part of this stems from the above-mentioned lack of accountability — or accountability for the wrong results — enjoyed by those who are supposed to be educators. Part of it, however, stems from the perception that teaching is essentially a part-time job with full-time recompense.

Most people seem to believe that teachers only work 9 months out of the year and enjoy shorter than average work hours per week. If this were true and one discounted the stress levels and, in some districts, the physical risks of the job, this might be a fair assessment.

It’s not true though. Teachers rarely get the summer off until they have a great deal of seniority, and they work far more hours each day than school schedules would seem to indicate, often exceeding 50 hours-week when one includes the work they have to do from/at home.

Ironically, the teachers have failed to educate the populace at large about what it is they actual do and how many man-hours it takes to do it and they’re now paying the price for that.


I can certainly understand why and, to some extent, even sympathize with these teachers would be angry about the lack of support they’ve recieved during their protests and the scorn that’s been directed at them. What I can’t understand or be sympathetic towards is their shock and confusion over it.

Related Reading:

The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi
State of the Union: A Century of American Labor (Politics and Society in Modern America)
Barron's AP Comparative Government & Politics
Cracking the AP U.S. Government & Politics Exam 2018, Premium Edition (College Test Preparation)
Fifty Years a Teacher

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One Response to “Why The Scorn?”

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