mardi 24 janvier 2012

The Last Harrah

Chester Upland school teacher Sara Ferguson has been invited to attend President Obama's State of the Union address tonight.

No doubt, Ms. Ferguson came to the attention of the White House through her appearances on MSNBC's Big Ed Show.

For those unfamiliar with Big Ed, he is a big fan of huge, intrusive government and doesn't care much for Republicans. He also believes that no amount of money is too much to throw at our public school districts. After all, it's "for the kids," as they say.

Ms. Ferguson is being lionized for her offer to continue working even if the district wasn't able to pay her. At least for a little while. Other Chester Upland teachers said they would do the same. And yet, none of them, as far as I know, have offered to take less in salary and see their benefits cut in the long term so that more teachers can be hired.

The fact is, the district was never in any real danger of being shut down immediately. And if teachers weren't paid for a couple of weeks, no doubt, they would have been paid eventually.

There are a few heroically good teachers working in Chester today and Sara Ferguson may be one of them.

But there are heroes and there are heroes. The firemen who rushed into the World Trade Center to save people's lives are one kind of hero. Teachers willing to wait a couple of week until a school district is given the money to pay them are another kind, a far lesser kind. What, after all, are they really risking and sacrificing?

The oohing and ahhhing over this obvious P.R. play, especially when it comes to the media, is embarrassing. We journalists are supposed to be a little more discerning when it comes to these sort of attempts to play us.

This whole thing reeks of political calculation and cheap theatrics. In this election year, the president is counting on public school teachers and their families to turn out for him. But even he can't protect them from what is coming; more budget cuts, more free market solutions and greater educational freedom for poor kids.

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