Goshay: Educators still struggling to gain respect
A column recently published in the Wall Street Journal appeared to go out of its way to preemptively disparage incoming first lady Jill Biden and her use of “doctor,” in reference to her doctorate in education.
Next month, when her husband takes the oath of office, Biden will become the first presidential spouse who plans to keep working as a teacher.
The column has touched off a whole debate about the value of doctoral degrees and titles, one which is unlikely to find a resolution. Even the Associated Press has its own rules about who gets to be addressed as a doctor in stories. Medical doctors are addressed as such, but dentists, chiropractors, veterinarians and clergy are not.
Meanwhile, the nation’s college students are $1.7 trillion in loan debt, hampering their ability to move forward. At the very least, government-run loan programs should consider eliminating interest, perhaps in exchange for national service.
It’s an amount that has increased 102% since 2010, according to the Federal Reserve.
Loan sharks don’t enjoy that kind of growth.
Meanwhile, younger students all over the country are going hungry because their schools, crucial sources for staving off hunger, are closed due to the pandemic.
The technology gap and the difficulty of online learning have left some kids so far behind, they’ll never catch up.
So, of all the issues and challenges currently buffeting teaching and education, “Dr.” Jill Biden is the hill the Wall Street Journal has chosen to die on?
If you haven’t written a dissertation or done postgraduate-level work, it takes a special amount of audacity to criticize people who have. It’s also snobbery of the worst kind. Some of the criticism, which is clearly more rooted in politics than concerns about education, has suggested that because Biden’s doctorate and bachelor’s degrees are from Delaware State University, they’re practically worthless.
Others have gone so far as to argue that Biden shouldn’t be considered a “real” professor because she teaches English at Northern Virginia Community College.
Really, how dare community-college students expect quality instructors?
The elephant-sized irony is that some of the sniping is coming from folks who voted for a president, who, before taking office, had to cut a check for $25 million to settle a fraud lawsuit against Trump University: the educational equivalent of a cardboard cutout.
Among them are Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who described Biden’s dissertation, which contained some typos, as “a national disgrace.”
If only our current cornucopia of national disgraces amounted to some spelling errors.
Biden, who also has master’s degrees from West Chester University and Villanova University, previously taught English and writing at Delaware Technical & Community College, and English and reading at the high school level for 13 years, including teenage patients at a psychiatric hospital.
Yes, there is plenty of room for improvement in America’s public education system. The current obsession with test scores has taken precedence at the expense of virtually everything else.
Yes, education has grown complicated - but so has our society. Many teachers must also be shrinks, mommies and bouncers if they have any chance of controlling a classroom.
Yes, fake colleges and diplomas flourish like weeds, siphoning federal money and the hopes of people who only want to better themselves.
No, no one is above criticism, not even a president’s spouse. And no, some people have no business being teachers because it’s not a job, it’s a calling and a gift. Bad teachers who goldbrick or discourage, bully, abuse and discriminate against children should be pushed out of the profession.
Fortunately, the vast majority of teachers love what they do and whom they serve. Each one of us can name teachers, decades into adulthood, who helped, inspired and encouraged us. That’s how much of an impact a teacher can have in shaping lives.
When a teacher says “My kids,” they mean it.
Case in point: Last week in Canton, Beacon Academy kindergarten teacher Brooke Herbert won a “dream classroom” from Wayfair after selling her furniture in order to buy classroom supplies for her students.
While we all have a right to our opinions and criticisms, snarking over who gets addressed-as-what only diverts from the real problems that exist in education and the hard work and sacrifice that teaching demands.
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP