Friday, July 17, 2009

About ethics

Two days ago, the Alabama state legislature made to changes to the state's ethics laws for teachers. This came after the Mobile newspaper ran an editorial claiming that, though the language was "subjective," the rank-and-file educators had nothing to worry about within the legislation, and tarred the association's challenge of the change with the damning taint of unionism.

The fact of the matter is that the new law is overly broad. It allows for dismissal of teacher for failure to supervise students sufficiently or using inappropriate language, for example. Who among us cannot think of an exemplary educator who could have been indicted and removed 0n those grounds? So the legislature, which has already succeeded in preventing any state employee, including teachers, from holding office, now wants the latitude to remove public school teachers at-will.

The two recent special elections in our area have both been won by large margins by far-right Republicans, one of whom argued with a school principal in front of a reporter in support of abolishing the state teacher's association. Both candidates claimed their cause was ethics reform, but what sort of ethics preclude schoolteachers in the state legislature and teacher's unions? I can think of no better model of citizen politicians. No, I think it is a backlash against Obama and perceived socialism. As a public school employee, I am scared.