Almost 4 out of 5 of America’s teachers are women. On the flip side of that coin, 4 out of 5 of our elected legislators are men. I could probably end this article right there, but let’s go on.
I have to ask this question: If men made up the majority of the profession, would legislators still go out of their way to push teachers around? Of course, I have no way to prove this, but I’m guessing no. We love to think that America has come a long way towards living up to our creed of equality for all. We have mostly gotten it right on paper. But in reality, any minority group, including women (though they are a minority in status only), will tell you that we still fall woefully short in practice.
There is a good old boys network in the halls of our state legislature. I believe they feel empowered by their machismo to push more and more ridiculous hurdles in front of teachers because they view the teaching profession as soft and feminine–one might even use the word submissive (quite biblical of them, no?).
Back in the 19th and 20th centuries, teacher contracts were often filled with rules and regulations that limited the basic human rights of women. It was as if the most crucial qualifications for female teachers were chastity and “lady-like” behavior.
Perhaps we’ve come a long way since then, or perhaps we really haven’t. We don’t openly discriminate against women in our contract language anymore, but now the discrimination is covert and comes down from the government. It is implied in the education policies that have devastated public education for the better part of the last two decades. Our lawmakers have not kept up with the times. Today’s woman is anything but submissive. They will stand their ground and fight back when they are being taken advantage of. I saw this first hand while standing among the throng of 20,000 red clad protestors outside the Indiana Statehouse on November 19th. The overwhelming majority of that crowd were females; strong, loud, and proud women demanding change.
So far, all signs from the Statehouse lead us to think that our legislators were not swayed much by that show of solidarity. But let this be a warning to them; they are not going to get away with pushing women around anymore–nor us (if I may borrow a phrase from Purdue University president, Mitch Daniels) “rarest of creatures,” the male teachers.
Take notice, legislators, you are in for a fight. The sooner you start listening and acting, the sooner we can start to fix the mess you’ve made. If you don’t listen and act, you’ll be buried under that mess and there will be new people sitting in your seats in the hallowed halls of government.
Count on it.
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