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Teachers as the new “Welfare Queens”

In one of the episodes on Bill Moyers and Company, Mr. Moyers speaks to Heather McGee on the subject of Economic Malpractice and the Millennials.

One of the phrases that comes up during the conversation is teachers who are viewed as “Welfare Queens” in terms of how the corporate reformers have framed the debate on the value of professional, qualified teachers.

Here is that part of the transcript:

BILL MOYERS: How did you get a start? What were your– who were your parents? What did they do?

HEATHER McGHEE: I’m the descendent of American slaves. I’m from the South — Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana. My grandparents and great-grandparents moved up to work in the steel mills of Chicago.

My grandmother and grandfather both had public sector jobs at a time when there was rampant discrimination in the private sector. They became, you know, leaders in the police force in Chicago, a social worker in the Chicago public schools. And they were able to retire comfortably. And they were able to help my parents out. And my parents were able, in turn, to help me out. But the idea that I’m going to be able to do that for my children, given the amount of debt that I have is something that I think I’ve just had to let go of.

BILL MOYERS: Well, that’s what can happen in the public sector. That the public sector over the last 50 years has created a very large middle class for people who would otherwise never have gotten into it. And now with the assault on public unions and public sector, that ladder’s being taken down, right?

HEATHER McGHEE: Absolutely. It’s been so shocking to see the demonization of public servants. It’s really part of this 40-year attack on the public. And I think the fact that we’re seeing right now that teachers, public janitors, school workers, bus drivers, cops, firefighters are the new welfare queens in our public life.

I mean, really they are. I mean, if you think about the stereotype that’s being trafficked right now. They’re talking about these lazy, you know, bloated pensions that are just, you know, cheating the system. I mean, that’s the welfare queens of the 1980s. And what has been– what’s the same between the welfare queen and this image of the postal worker who doesn’t really deserve the benefits they’re getting? These old shop worn stereotypes of race and gender.

To watch the episode in full, which I would highly recommend doing, go to Economic Malpractice and the Millennials.


2 comments on “Teachers as the new “Welfare Queens”

  1. rmm
    February 20, 2012

    Locally, the barons of Microsoft and Boeing are accustomed to compliant and cowed employees. People who can go on strike because they’re fed up with being treated like crap … can’t have that!

    (QUIZ – IF you lose your over $50,000 a year job at Boeing or Microsoft, and you’re over 35, and you have good benefits, what is the chance you can replace your job, locally, in 3 months? 6? 12? 18? 24? (hint … close to zero))

    Nationally, with the horrible job market of the last decades, EXCEPT for 20 somethings with C.S. degrees – the explanation above is that same.

    Sahila had some comment somewhere – 80% of teachers are women. I’m not touching the gender angle, but, isn’t anything that is good for ANY class other than the top 1% a bad anything?

    ‘Funny’ how many Democratic women are paid locally for PFL, CRPE, AFE, SFC, LEV, DFER, Gate$ … and are doing union destroying work which aligns with the interests of Rick Santorum, Newt, Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh!


  2. Danaher M Dempsey Jr
    February 20, 2012

    Two thoughts from the NY Times
    (1) States Try to Fix Quirks in Teacher Evaluations
    But under Tennessee’s new teacher-evaluation system, which is similar to systems being adopted around the country, Mr. Ball said he had to give the teacher a one — the lowest rating on a five-point scale — in one of 12 categories: breaking students into groups. Even though Mr. Ball had seen the same teacher, a successful veteran he declined to identify, group students effectively on other occasions, he felt that he had no choice but to follow the strict guidelines of the state’s complicated rubric.

    “It’s not an accurate reflection of her as a teacher,” Mr. Ball said.

    (2) A Third Voice for 2012
    As for Republicans, says Walker, “they don’t have a plan to restore fiscal sanity either. They’re in denial that we can solve our structural deficit problems with either our current level of taxation — between 15 and 16 percent of G.D.P. — or even with our historical average, about 18 percent of G.D.P. We need more revenue. Our deficit problem is primarily a spending problem, but it is not only a spending problem.”

    We need $1 in new revenue for every $3 in spending cuts, excluding interest, says Walker — and that should be accomplished through tax reform that makes our system “simpler, fairer and more competitive,” while generating more revenue. “The Republicans are simply in denial about this.”

    The American people are “starved for three things,” concludes Walker: “truth, leadership and solutions.” Unfortunately, the two parties are just offering “laggardship — waiting for something to hit the fan” so they can again just react “without adequate due diligence.”

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This entry was posted on February 20, 2012 by in Teachers and Teaching and tagged , , .
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