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Teachers' union resorts to Luddism to battle Luna

Teachers' union resorts to Luddism to battle Luna

Wayne Hoffman
September 21, 2012

The education labor union has reached a new milestone in lowness, attempting to turn Idaho voters into Luddites and depict kids as klutzes in order to satisfy a selfish agenda. Witness its first ad against Propositions 1, 2 and 3.

Says the ad: “Prop 3 replaces teachers with computers by requiring that taxpayers fund laptops for high school students.” Not true. The law requires schools start using technology, and that mobile computing devices — which covers more than laptops, by the way, be part of the regular curriculum. It does not replace teacher with computers, robots, androids or holograms.

The ad also claims that “the Legislature failed to fully fund the laptops required by Prop 3.” Also not true, which makes the further allegation, that the law will cause property taxes to go up, also erroneous.

Now here comes the truly demeaning part, which is really, truly spectacular when viewed in its TV glory: “And with kids being kids,” the ad says, “you can see how the cost of this measure will get out of hand quickly.” Here is where you see a youngster spilling a soda on a laptop, a klutzy kid letting a laptop fall to the floor and an absent-minded teen leaving a computer outside on the lawn and at the mercy of a sprinkler.

The ad leaves you to believe that kids are basically dumb. Of course kids — and adults — do break stuff. But it’s kind of funny how books get torn up, eaten by dogs, left in the rain and defaced by Sharpies, and yet the union doesn’t seem motivated to insult youngsters and call on legislators to ban books. They’re not calling on the Legislature to fund indestructible stone tablets and chisels.

The union wants you to fear and reject technology, making 19th century Luddism popular again in the hope you’ll mindlessly oppose the other propositions on the ballot. Proposition 1 would return the power and control of local school operation to elected school boards, which have long become subservient to the labor union. Proposition 2 would allow great teachers to receive extra pay for their hard work, for filling tough teaching positions or for taking on leadership responsibilities. Conveniently, the ad urges voters to reject all three propositions, but only musters the energy to talk about the last one, Proposition 3.

The labor union uses trumped-up images of unfunded laptops and tech-intolerant tots armed with broken gadgets, to urge a vote against all three propositions, yet won’t talk about the real issue: the amount of control labor unions had under Idaho’s old education laws — laws those unions desperately want back.

As for the union’s mysterious fight against technology, I don’t get it. We all joke about how if we want to build a website or run some software, older folks like me (I’m 40) should hire a school student. Those kids get technology. They live it.

Thanks to modern technology, kids in Bear Lake can have the same access to education as their peers in Boise. Thanks to modern technology, a student who wants to learn Latin is no longer out of luck because the school lacks a Latin instructor. Thanks to technology, students are no longer limited to the books on the shelves of their school or public library or even cash on hand; thousands of volumes of free classic literature are a download away. Thanks to technology, students with learning disabilities, such as autism, are communicating, learning and adapting to the world around them and having access to a future.

Moreover, most jobs these days require the use of technology. And many, if not most, colleges require kids to use technology — either to prepare papers, download syllabi or do homework. Knowing the harm denying our kids access to technology will do to our children might make the union tactic appear extraordinarily selfish. That’s because, in reality, it is.

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