Every year in my capacity as a teacher at Riverside, I take my AP Literature & Composition kids, along with another teacher and his AP US History kids, to State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich’s annual Youth and Government Forum at Keystone College. It’s a wonderful experience.
Check this video out and draw your own conclusions about what happened at the Forum.
All done? Good. So, having been there, I can tell you that at no time did I hear any discussion about teacher ethics. We talked about sensationalism in the media, a lack of positive stories in the news. The politicians talked about education funding, standardized testing, and gridlock in government. Now, I’m sure a question popped up about ethics somewhere. I didn’t encounter it, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. But across 6 forums, that was not at all the focus. We are talking, collectively, about hours and hours of panels and discussions. You wouldn’t know it from WNEP’s sensationalist, misrepresented, and inaccurate reporting.
Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack DID NOT participate in any forum involving teacher ethics, but was confronted with a follow-up question about it. The reporting makes it seem like it was something he opined on with the students. Nope. Didn’t happen. He attended one open forum, I was there, and no such discussion arose.
Let’s look at the logic, though. Of course teacher ethics matters (I’m not saying it doesn’t). But the behavior of a handful of idiots doesn’t mean the entire profession is in arrears. If a journalist does something unethical, that doesn’t mean every journalist needs to be condemned.
In terms of what actually happened at the forum, the Scranton Times has a good write-up. One of the standout moments involved Matt Cartwright pointing out how he is a bad test-taker. This was in response to a question from one of my kids. He asked students if they felt the same. Almost all raised their hands (I was surprised, actually). He then offered an inspiring story about how he continuously did poorly on the SATs and LSATs, yet always graduated top of his class. He said hard work matters more than filling in bubbles. It’s a great message for kids to hear from somebody who just went viral for his defense of Flint, Michigan.
You wouldn’t know it from WNEP’s broadcast.
You know, I was so proud of my students, too. They asked phenomenal, insightful, and profound questions. Yesterday was one of those moments in my teaching career where I would lean back, smile, and say, “I did something right.” I’m sure parents feel the same when their children accomplish wonderful things.
That’s why WNEP did such a disservice to the event, to children, and to teachers. Teacher hit-pieces are easy these days. They generate ratings. Oh, a teacher slept with a senior? Great! Ratings! An idiot of a teacher had Bailey’s in his coffee at a high school dance? Great! Ratings! It’s bad enough that the Scranton Times writes an editorial once a week about how we get paid too much.
I’m not saying that those kinds of things shouldn’t be reported. But there are so many positive stories about what goes on in the classroom. We hear them so little. I’m sorry to say that WNEP, who I normally respect, is one of the reasons why.