If there were a contest to decide which part of President Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday night (Jan. 25, 2011) Livingston County Republicans hated the most, I think I might go with his suggestion that Americans should respect teachers.
For some reason, teachers are the group Livingston County Republicans love to attack. More than immigrants, more than Muslims, more than trial lawyers. Their dislike of teachers shows over and over again in letters to the editor, their on-line story chats, in school board elections, in many school board members' relations with teachers, you name it.
I've never been able to figure out why. Perhaps it's simply because teachers insist on being paid in cash now, instead of being given free room and board at a parent's house for a month at a time. Or maybe because they're allowed to keep teaching after they get married. Or maybe because so many of them are now men.
Probably it has something to do with Republican disdain for education in general, their insistence that facts don't matter, and if they just insist something is true, it will become true -- George Bush's "we make our own reality" blah, blah, blah.
Whatever the reason, disrespect for teachers by adults filters through to students, who fail to take academic achievement seriously. Which of course Republicans blame on teachers.
Other countries in the world do things differently. In Japan, teachers are highly respected. Students do well in school compared to American students. Is there a connection? Let's try it and find out.