It was a barbeque sponsored by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy of Midland, MI where classroom teachers were mocked and degraded and with the gusto usually reserved for a Michigan State-University of Michigan football game.
This is the one Mackinac Center function where I invited my wife. I wanted her to meet persons who I had worked with in the past, blogged with and whose free market focus I agreed with. The guest of honor was a young education researcher who had earlier in the day presented to a group of legislators and legislative staffers.
When I invited "super-wife" I thought she'd enjoy it being a third grade teacher who was nearing retirement from the classroom. Little did I know.
The guest of honor--Marc Holley from Arkansas-- was introduced by the host for the barbeque who warmed the predominantly male crowd into a screed against teachers. As they ate their burgers and drank whatever, the host shouted out about the lazy, inept and incompetent teachers in Michigan and everybody cheered.
The anti-teacher venom continued and the cheering got louder.
Then the guest of honor started talking for a few minutes. Check out his Teacher Quality Primer where he talks about reforming and improving teachers.
Like any profession, teaching can be improved. But, through my wife's experience I can see that teachers face variables that no other profession faces.
Children will be left behind. That's happens for a variety of reasons not the least of which is the condition of families and their involvement in their child's education.
Also, classrooms change every year which means new kids with new learning levels and varying learning abilities.
I was embarrassed that night and I think the Mackinac Center did the teaching profession a disservice and they made all right-wingers look like mentally-addled extremists who can't see the truth if it bit them in the face.
I left that night thinking that I walked in hopeful and left feeling that I heard a load of crap.
My wife worked tirelessly to help each and every student reach their learning potential. It was a non-stop effort that consumed evenings and weekends. She used her own resources to buy individualized learning materials. And she did this without blinking or thinking twice and never complaining.
I just wish I would have had my little Flip video camera that night. Then the YouTube nation could decide for themselves about teachers and the role that they play and whether these guys were right in their teacher hate.