Certainly when a body talks about schools--reopenings, safety therein, test scores--a body is talking about students and teachers, who are closely linked. As they should be. Good principals and teachers lead to good teaching environments lead to good schools. The best teachers shouldn't just be recognized and paid, but studied and if possible, copied.
But there are times--a few times--when the best interests of students and teachers don't necessarily interweave. Such as when ineffective teachers sleep-walk to their pensions.
When that unfortunate occasion happens, most folks would side with students. But not everybody.
The November election is coming upon us quick, and a great many folks are telling pollsters just what they think of the current occupant of the White House. Americans prefer their betters to be better, or at least not so rude. But soon there will be a binary choice. You'll note that "anybody but him" isn't on the ballot.
Last week, Joe Biden gave an address to the nation's largest teachers' union, and the National Education Association was impressed enough to give him a lot of real estate on its blog. The former vice president didn't stumble with his words this time. He was clear as a bell:
"You will never find in American history a president who is more teacher-centric or more supportive of teachers than me," he declared. Which makes sense. He's married to a teacher. And knows how important they are.
"This is going to be a teacher-oriented Department of Education," in a Biden administration, he said. "And it's not going to come from the top down--it's going to come from the teachers up."
A teacher-oriented Department of Education sounds fine, but, as The Wall Street Journal reminded its readers the other day, a student-oriented Department of Education sounds better. But none of the members of the NEA called him on it. We wonder if such a thought even crossed their minds.
In that virtual address, Joe Biden spent most of his time talking about more spending on schools, including tripling funding for Title I schools. He talked a lot about money, and how much his administration would spend--to get the union members the "dignity that you deserve." The NEA hosts were giddy.
Joe Biden promised raises and resources, and vowed to double the number of school psychologists, counselors, nurses and social workers in schools. He pledged to wipe out college debt for teachers. But he's also on record being against charter schools and school choice.
In fact, during a education forum during the primaries, Joe Biden said charter schools "are gone" if he's elected. No matter how many families are on waiting lists to get into them, knowing they might provide a real chance for an education.
As summer turns into fall, those who have children in charter schools, or who are still on waiting lists to get in, need to keep these promises, and priorities, in mind.