Responding to the ridicule of teachers and the teaching profession by politicians and self proclaimed "experts"!
"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter

Monday, 9 January 2012

The King’s New Clothes

I read in the paper today an article about a recent “driving and texting” law. It immediately brought to mind a whole variety of thoughts.
The first reminded me of the “cell phone and driving” which has been in effect for some time now. As I drive around the state, I see person after person driving while holding a cell phone to his ear. I rarely see or hear of anyone being ticketed in spite of the enacted law.
Now, Trenton has decided to enact a “driving and texting” law. I wonder if it will be enforced in the same fashion as is the “driving while cell phoning ” law?
Enacting a law without enforcement is a waste of time and effort! It is akin to writing on the blackboard in a classroom full of students, “There will be no gum chewing in this class” and then allowing everyone to chew away without penalty! The teacher just wasted a piece of chalk!
The reasoning behind the enactment of the rarely enforced “driving and texting” and the “driving while cell phoning” is that they will help to prevent accidents, and that they will (if enforced). While all this legislation is being created in name of accident reduction, a major cause of highway accidents and death is ignored.
The continual promotion and sale of vehicles with four hundred horsepower engines, zero to sixty in five seconds capability and top speeds of one hundred and seventy miles per hour is never even mentioned as a primary cause highway mayhem. Why?
It is the “King’s New Clothes” mentality. Legislators certainly don’t want to offend citizens who eagerly buy these vehicles or the car companies who produce them. Surely requiring vehicles to be equipped with governors (speed controlling devices) would create an unprecedented uproar so instead they chose to ignore the situation and pass unforced “driving and texting” and “driving while cell phoning” laws. Both laws give the illusion of doing something about the accident problem without having to address the overriding unpopular issue of preventing the sales of cars without speed limiting devices.
Another “King’s New Clothes” issue can be found in Washington. Proposals to cut spending are constantly bandied about to the exclusion of cuts in military spending , the largest expenditure in the Federal Budget. Again our law makers ignore the obvious fact that cutting military spending will significantly help to balance the budget.
Now what has all this to do with education?
Well, the same “King’s New Clothes” mentality exists in the “educational reform” measures that are enacted in Trenton!
Legislators and the administration refuse to accept the fact that only a dramatic change in public attitude will provide a substantial cure for the problems plaguing education in New Jersey and America. Until the public becomes convinced that education and those who provide it are to be revered and aided in their efforts, educational success will continue to be illusive. Until parents strongly engage in the educational process with their children, little improvement can be expected.
Dare a politician suggest that a significant step to better education lies in the hands of the public? I think not! It might be considered offensive and is better left unsaid!
“Aren’t we paying taxes to have our children educated? Why should we have to participate? It’s the teacher’s job!” will be the outcry.
As a result, lawmakers ignore the fact that educating a child is not like buying a new suit. To have a good result everyone must be involved and not just show up to pay the bill.
So why then again, are none of these statements being voiced in Trenton? Again, it’s the “King’s New Clothes” mentality.
Instead, a constant flow of edicts spew from Trenton, course standards, testing requirements, hackneyed educational jargon and teacher bashing all designed to supposedly cure our educational ills. Meanwhile the major cure is ignored!
I suppose the next question is “Can education really be elevated to a revered status and if so how?” Certainly the array of laws and proposal flowing from Trenton haven’t done much in this effort.
However, if Lady Gaga, the NFL, MLB, Professional Wrestling, etc. have been able to propel themselves to the heights of public admiration and respect it shouldn’t be impossible for education to improve its public image. Like the aforementioned it can be accomplished with proper promotion and fortitude. The public view of education could be greatly enhanced and thereby the levels of achievement greatly improved if only a campaign to “sell” education was instituted instead of the constant tinkering and debasement which is now occurring.


  1. Walt,
    You are on a roll, keep up the good fight.

  2. Walt, I was glad to read your blog and become aware of it. I am trying to get active in any of the responses we can against the corporate reform agenda, from charter schools to vouchers, including merit pay and evaluations based on testing. Unfortunately, most of the public doesn't care, nor do they see what's coming. All of these have been tried before and fail wherever they turn up. More unfortunate is that many teachers and our organizations like the NEA, NJEA and even my own Paterson Education Association do not have a plan in place to push back, organize or protest even the discussion or discourse about these topics.

    If you haven't already become familiar, you should look at what Diane Ravitch is writing. Her review in the New Yorker about "Waiting for Superman" is nothing short of amazing. In her book, The Death of the Great American School System, she identifies the big money that's in the game and exposes Michelle Rhee big time. Did you know that Michelle Rhee only taught for three years? She claimed to increase scores exponentially but cannot prove it and she is on record as saying that she was so bad at classroom management that she had to put scotch tape on the lips of her students while walking the hall to an assembly and when the tape was removed all of the students had blood lips.

    At the very least I was glad to find a like-minded voice in your blog. I hope you do not mind but I shared your blog's link with an organization that I am a member of on facebook called, Save Our Schools New Jersey. Look forward to your next blog and any ideas that you have.


What do you think?