Ron White of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, arguably one of the funniest standup comics in America, once uttered the classic line, “You can’t fix stupid.”
The same might well be said of arrogance.
Case in point: Mitt Romney saying he was “not concerned about the very poor.” Even if true (which it probably is), it is arrogant to say it even privately, much less publicly.
Case in point: Gov. Bobby Jindal’s calling Louisiana Association of Educators Executive Director Michael Walker-Jones “arrogant” for Jones’s saying that some parents in poverty may not have the time or information to make a decision on their child’s education and suggesting that Walker-Jones resign.
That addressing poverty should be the key in seeking a solution to failing schools is a no-brainer to everyone except those who would gain political capital by bashing public education.
Walker-Jones made his comments in response to Jindal’s education reform plans that the governor unveiled before the annual meeting of the Jindal-friendly Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) as opposed to the more appropriate audience of those most affected by the proposed changes: teachers.
And therein, as Willie Shakespeare said, lies the rub.
Unveiling his plan at that particular venue was a touch of arrogance in itself, a breach of protocol. But look here for the real arrogance of this governor: http://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=newsroom&tmp=detail&articleID=3197.
Here are some excerpts:
“…We are going to give (local school) districts more flexibility over their federal dollars….(and) We are going to reduce federal reporting requirements….”
One has to wonder if he has run this by the feds yet. It was Earl Long who asked civil rights opponent Leander Perez in the heat of the state’s battle over desegregation more than 50 years ago, “What’re you gonna do now, Leander? The feds got the A-bomb!”
Jindal, in attempting to apply the principle of teacher tenure to a hypothetical company in the private sector, said there is no accountability for job performance and “after three years of this, if they have survived, they are given lifetime job protection. Short of selling drugs in the workplace or beating up one of the business’s clients, they can never be fired.”
Implying that teachers can only be fired for selling drugs at school is arrogance in its purest form—and stupid beyond belief. By his standards, it must be fair to say that now that he has been re-elected, he can only be removed if he sells drugs in the House or Senate chambers. Certainly, that is a far-fetched and most unreasonable analogy—but no more so than his own remarks.
Case in point: “We are going to create a system that pays teachers for doing a good job instead of for the length of time they have been breathing.”
Does anyone know of a single instance in the history of mankind where someone has been paid for the length of time he or she has been breathing? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
We’re talking sheer arrogance here.
Perhaps Jindal should resign after making such an ass of himself.
In fairness, he did make one accurate comment to LABI: “Our system today often crushes talented teachers and it makes their jobs harder, not easier.”
At least he’s spot-on with that assessment.
Of course Jindal’s education reform proposals are drawn almost exclusively from the American Legislative Exchange Council’s sweeping agenda but it no doubt also draws heavily on a study done by Raj Chetty and John Friedman of Harvard and Jonah Rockoff of Columbia University.
Without going into too much detail, that study concludes that good teachers cause students to get higher test scores, which in turn lead to higher lifetime earnings.
Well, duh. How much was that grant? Bet we could’ve arrived at that conclusion for less.
But wait. Let’s look a bit more closely at the specifics of that study that has become the mantra of reform-minded governors like our own.
“Replacing a poor teacher with an average one would raise a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by about $266,000,” the New York Times quoted the study as saying.
Wow. $266,000? Really?
But let’s break that down a little further. Let’s say for simplicity that the average classroom has 26.6 kids and on average, those kids will become adults who will work, say, from age 25 to age 65. Forty years. So, we have $266,000 divided by 26.6, divided by 40 years. That comes to a whopping….$250 per year per student, about $20 per month or $4.81 per week.
But for all of Jindal’s disdain for teachers—Public Service Commission Chairman Foster Campbell recently opined that someone must have broken Jindal’s pencils when he was in school—and public education, nothing can quite compare to the arrogance, ignorance and convoluted logic of one Alabama state senator.
State Sen. Shadrack McGill (R-Woodville) recently spoke to a prayer breakfast in Fort Payne at which he justified a 62 percent pay raise for legislators while at the same time saying raising teacher pay could lead to less-qualified educators, according to the Fort Payne Times-Journal.
On the face of it, given his Biblical first name and the asinine statement, most readers might reasonably conclude that the story was straight out of the Onion, an on-line parody of news events. But the story is real and the speaker’s remarks were sincere if misinformed, misguided, and laced with idiocy.
The legislative increase, to be fair to McGill, was passed in 2007, before his election. It was approved by voice vote and later in an override of then-Gov. Bob Riley’s veto.
McGill said the pay raise—from $30,710 to $49,500 for legislators’ part time positions—better rewards lawmakers and makes them less susceptible to lobbyist influence.
“That (the old salary) played into the corruption, guys, big time,” he said. “You had your higher-ranking legislators that were connected with the lobbyists making up in the millions of dollars. They weren’t worried about that $30,000 salary they were getting,” he said, adding that legislators have to pay for their expenses out of pocket.
Legislators need “to make enough that (they) can say no, in regards to temptation,” he said.
Well, Mr. McGill, it may come as a surprise to you to know that members of Congress pull in about $180,000 per year and they are still very much susceptible to being swayed by lobbyists. Only a fool would argue that a salary of $49,500 would keep lobbyists at bay.
It may also come as a shock to you to know that we all pay expenses out of pocket—especially teachers, who regularly spend their own money for classroom resources.
For pure audacity, McGill, who home-schools his children, went on to say, “If you double what you’re paying (teachers), you know what’s going to happen? It’s a Biblical principle. If you double a teacher’s pay scale, you’ll attract people who aren’t called to teach.
“And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It’s just in them to do. It’s the ability that God give ‘em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn’t matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity.
“If you don’t keep that in balance, you’re going to attract people who are not called, who don’t need to be teaching our children. So, everything has a balance.”
First, of all, Mr. McGill, please direct us to the scripture in the Bible that admonishes us not to increase teacher pay. Please provide us with the specific chapter and verse.
And taking your logic to its ultimate conclusion, preachers should not be paid; it’s a calling. Instead of paying attorneys $250 per hour, they should accept $25 per hour since it’s a calling. And why pay firemen at all? Let ‘em volunteer. Same thing for police officers, judges and social workers.
Oh, and let’s not overlook legislators. It’s a calling, so let them forfeit all pay in exchange for the privilege of serving.
There you have it, folks. The contempt for teachers and public education, simply because they’re easy targets, is the most current and most popular trend in America. So, c’mon, jump on the bandwagon. The kids? They’re just an afterthought. It’s political hay and the harvest is ripe.
But one last thought: if you can read this, don’t forget to thank a teacher.