First they came for your integrity. They did it subtly and over time as they obfuscated our textbooks to reflect a narrow ideology rather than the whole truth.Robert Barkley, Jr. reprinted without permission. Couldn't resist.
Next they attacked the integrity of your profession. They did it by devising embarrassingly shallow and mandatory testing in order to hold you accountable for outcomes over which you have minimal control, all the while ignoring the many inadequacies of the society that contribute to student stress.
Then they devastated what you had hoped to give to your students. They did it by narrowing the curriculum to only those attributes they find suitable to provide compliant and narrowly trained workers, and by their unenlightened neglect of the multiple intelligences and learning styles and varied pace of learning that is present in all learners.
Then they reduced your ability to motivate students by limiting the availability of instructional supplies or making you purchase them yourselves. They did it by advocating for insufficient funding through regressive taxation.
Then they set out to diminish your hard earned salaries. They did it by pushing performance pay that has been long proven both ineffective and demeaning.
Then they attacked your pensions. They did it by blaming the sudden funding inadequacies thereof on you rather than on the greed and incompetence of Wall Street.
Then they assaulted your health care. They did it by ignoring the reduced wages you accepted in lieu of the growing costs of health insurance that is the fault of a greedy and heartless industry.
Then they undermined your right to join together in pursuit of your best interests and that of your profession. They did it by attacking your unions and associations while conveniently dismissing the powerful corporate and ideological institutions where those of opposing views organize to espouse their narrow interests.
Then they declared war on all that supports your valiant efforts by obstructing the general resources for your work. They do it by propagandizing to the unwitting public that taxes are too high while accepting tax rebates for the extremely wealthy, failing to accept that this is in reality a low tax nation, and providing for all sorts of unwarranted tax havens for business.
Then, finally, they seek to destroy all that our founders advocated by eliminating public education altogether. They do it by trumpeting the ill-conceived merits of privatization while ignoring the absence any record of its greater success or efficiency.
So I apologize for those of us who have not fought hard enough along side all of you as you struggle to mentor and inspire our children and grandchildren. Please forgive us for our inattentiveness and neglect. You deserve our utmost admiration and respect.
You see, they have done much of this to those of us in the private sector. And too many of us, duped by their stooges and know-nothings, have lashed out at you because we envy what you still have that we have lost. Arguably you are the last bastion against the corporate tyranny and selfish elitism that threatens our nation.
Thank you for all your efforts thus far. Please fight on. Please do not give up.
Robert Barkley, Jr., is a counselor in Systemic Education Reform, retired Executive Director of the Ohio Education Association, served as Interim Executive Director of the Maine Education Association, is a thirty-five year veteran of NEA and NEA affiliate staff work, long-term consultant to the KnowledgeWorks Foundation of Cincinnati, Ohio, one time teacher, coach, and local union president. He is the author of Quality in Education: A Primer for Collaborative Visionary Educational Leaders and Leadership In Education: A Handbook for School Superintendents and Teacher Union Presidents.