Being vocal about the need for serious education reform means you must face a few arrows heading your way from teachers’ unions and the educational establishment. Both have a lot to lose if a student-centered education system emerges.
Education Action Group, my organization based in Michigan, often receives e-mails larded up with rhetoric and vitriol. Just this week, we were accused of being “Nazis” for having the gall to chastise school districts that want to charge thousands of dollars for public records.
So when we highlight the impressive array of reforms being proposed in Indiana by state superintendent Tony Bennett, what’s the reaction by unionized teachers? Consider the e-mailed thoughts of one Terry Daugherty of Monroe County, Indiana schools:
“I always wonder if Jesus were in Michigan, is this what he would do? Spend his time destroying public education in Indiana?”
Determining Jesus’ position on political issues can open up quite a can of worms, but I’ll try. The book of Matthew tells the story of Jesus cleansing the temple of the money changers.
“As Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer”; but you are making it a robbers’ den.’”
So, Terry, you got me thinking. What would Jesus say of Detroit Public Schools? That public education “temple” graduates kids who can’t read. A majority of kids don’t graduate.
The “temple” is certainly meeting the needs of the adults but it is leaving kids behind.
I would like to think that, yes, Jesus would destroy the public education temple and save the children from despair and a hopeless future. And he would smash a temple that has been perverted to meet the needs of the administrators, teachers, school board members, unions, bureaucrats and contractors.
But, Jesus isn’t in Michigan – or Indiana – so it’s incumbent upon leaders to do something about it. And in Indiana, they’re trying. They’re trying to give kids a voucher to attend the school of their choice. They’re trying to reform collective bargaining so there’s less of an emphasis on the adults and more on the needs of children.
But the money changers and special interests are doing everything they can to protect their space in the “temple.”