Four Million!

There are more than 4 million practicing teachers in the United States.  To put that figure in some perspective in terms of scale, there are more teachers than administrative assistants and secretaries (3.082 million). And it’s more people than all the doctors and lawyers thrown together (about two million).  In other words, teachers are our largest class of B.A. workers.  I thought of this in the aftermath of this post about a teacher in Indiana and her attitudes toward gay students and homosexuality more generally.

I got a few notes upset that I’d single out this teacher, ‘why are you highlighting that?’  My first reaction was, frankly, whatever. In almost ten years of writing this blog – you can peruse the archives yourself to the right – I’ve never rushed to highlight bad behavior or malfeasance because it’s generally not that interesting.  People steal money or do unethical things in all walks of life and it seems ridiculous to me to highlight it every time it happens in our sector as illustrative of something (reform critics make a habit of doing this with charter schools and public school critics do the same with traditional public schools all in an effort to prove one point or another). But it’s worth discussing.  My take is that certain things are different. Sexual abuse, for instance, has some unfortunate education-specific issues associated with it and should be discussed. And this particular Indiana case was different because I think it highlights an issue that is only recently beginning to get the attention it should – for some students our schools can be pretty hostile places and that has serious – life-threatening – consequences for some students.

But more generally and apropos of our big debates these days, there are 4 million teachers!  That figure ought to make reasonable people realize that they’re not all villains, or heroes, intolerant, broad-minded, tireless, or lazy.  In fact, while they’re overall going to be more predisposed to want to work with kids, want to teach, to serve, and have some attributes correlated with that (like some other types of workers teachers are fairly homogeneous on Myers-Briggs) more fundamentally they’re going to be just like the rest of us, a mixed bag.  We’d probably have a more sensible conversation about teacher quality, evaluation, salary, and all the rest if we just started from that mundane but real place.

10 Replies to “Four Million!”

  1. Since it’s Friday, we’ll skip the potentially-metastasizing comment debate about Myers-Briggs and Jungian-style social psychology. Because a debate of that scope would inevitably mean that someone would be wrong on the internet.

  2. “types of workers”

    This is known as a “tell”.

    In other estimable opinions I hold, Myers-Briggs is a well-meaning pile of psychological excrement.

  3. Funny to read Andy here on sex abuse of kids.
    He’s the one who defends Whitney Tilson and Campbell Brown when they falsely accuse teachers and their unions of protecting teachers who abuse children.
    Asked for evidence, Andy gives none.
    Here’s the blood libel from Whitney:
    California Whistleblower Case Shows Union Protection of Teachers
    …. protecting ALL teachers, … – or much, much worse,
    Funny thing is, when you read the story Whitney links to, there is only one mention of the union:

    The principal notified Carol Hansen, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources. Hansen, in turn, summoned the local teachers’ union president and vice president to address the situation.

    I promised to be nice for Lent, but this is stupid on the part of the education reform movement.

  4. Yes, four million people who care enough about the nation’s children to actually be with them each day. And it looks as though the president is now listening to the citizens who really do put students first: teachers.

    Teachers know that we need to think outside the box to bring about true educational equity to our least privileged children. It will take a lot more than test prep, VAM and General Stupidity.

  5. Linda,
    I very much enjoy what you write.
    But please don’t go down that road regarding Kevin Johnson. The allegations are serious, but it will be one of those murky areas like OJ.
    Leave it at that Campbell Brown, Whitney Tilson and Michelle Rhee lie about teachers, unions and child abuse and that Andrew Rotherham prefers to remain agnostic on their veracity.

    But he will call Valerie Strauss names.

  6. Art,
    In the previous two times Andrew has written on this matter here, he directs people to his column on the issue in Time.
    As for teachers and their unions protecting teacher child abusers, Andy remains agnostic.
    Here are Andy’s Eduwonk words:

    I don’t know …., but it’s a ridiculous and ad hominen argument with nothing to do with the issues in Campbell’s op ed.

    Here are Campbell Brown’s words:

    Campbell Brown: Teachers Unions Go to Bat for Sexual Predators,/blockquote>

    Maybe you ought to do a better job reading, Art.

  7. It’s hard to see in this story how teacher unions protected criminals:

    Two former Triton teachers, principal plead guilty in sex case

    Catherine DePaul, former principal.
    Story Highlights
    Jeff Logandro and Dan Michielli were accused in October of having improper personal and physical relationships with female students.
    The former principal, Catherine DePaul failed to immediately report the information when she learned of the allegations in April 2012.
    Two other defendants in the case still face trial.
    GALLERY: Two former Triton teachers, principal plead guilty in sex case
    Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Staff Writer
    POSTED: Tuesday, February 12, 2013, 5:54 AM
    Two former teachers and the former principal of Triton Regional High School in Runnemede, implicated last fall in a sexual-abuse case, pleaded guilty Monday to official misconduct and failing to report the incidents to authorities.

    As part of the plea agreements, the former school employees forfeited their right to hold any public jobs in the state, including as educators.

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