I was reading the comments attached to a news story about public school teachers staging a rally in my home state of North Carolina (“Come for the No. 34 ranking in nationwide teacher pay; stay for the barbecue”) when it hit me: People really are idiots.
Not all of y’all. But I gotta give a shout-out to the laboratory-quality dumbbell who wrote—and I am not making this up—“Teachers is paid enough. If they want more money, they should have went to school for something else.”
Yes. And maybe he should’ve went to school a little longer. Or at all.
You know those bumper stickers that say: “If you can read this, thank a teacher”? Yeah, I haven’t seen one in ages either.
Of all the groups I would’ve considered safe from snark and, worse, vilification, it would be teachers.
Admittedly, I have a dog in this fight. As the daughter of a public school teacher and the mother of a newly minted one who has signed on to work in a high-poverty school for the next two years, yeah, I have to say this shift in the national conversation is a head-scratcher at best and a head-in-the-oven at worst.
I don’t get this even a little bit. If “Should’ve went” was the lone voice, I wouldn’t pay much attention. It’s like how people ignore the guy in every small town who walks around in chaps with a skunk on a leash but no! It’s now OK, even trendy, to hate on teachers.
The comments piled on, taking up “Should’ve went”’s rallying cry.
“Must be nice to have summers off.”
“Why do they complain? They stop work at 3 o’clock. A real job would kill them.”
“They don’t teach anymore; they’re just glorified babysitters.”
Anyone who knows a teacher knows the high horse manure content of those statements.
I know that lately, as a nation, we’ve gotten cranky. Politics has us divided, angry, frustrated. I used to be a cheerful sort, ask anyone. OK, maybe not the U-scan attendant at the grocery store BECAUSE IT NEVER WORKS but anyone else.
But our general American dyspepsia (ask a teacher, I mean, if you can pull her off the bar stool at 3:30 every afternoon. Oh, wait. I meant find him at his SECOND JOB) has now reached into areas that used to be undisputed, sacrosanct even.
There’s just no gentler way to describe the national slide into hatefulness focused, astonishingly, on what could arguably be called “the least of these.” Teachers aren’t rich, they aren’t famous. But they are, to borrow a term from social media, true influencers. It took some doing but raging against teachers is a thing now. A lowdown, dirty, deplorable thing.
We hear a lot about saving the babies. Until they show up at kindergarten with 40 others and one valiant teacher who just spent half her first paycheck to make the classroom functional. Some of you don’t care about that at all. Fortunately, teachers do.
Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.