Teachers and Cops: Media Slants and Spins

Sep 3, 2020 by

Violent crime of every category is skyrocketing in New York City.  Last weekend there was an average of a shooting every hour around the clock. The percentage of victims of gunfire is up 95% over last year.  Murders are up 35% and arrests down 39%.  


A partial list of causes, compiled in no particular order of rank and without ideological bias of any kind, all arguably relevant in some combination and balance.

They include: bail reform,  prison releases, early compassionate parole due to coronavirus or prosecutorial leniency, homelessness and economic dislocation, reaction to race-based excesses of law-enforcement,  indefinite hiatus of the school system, worsening societal inequities, discredited policies and practices of special police units, burnout and demoralization of police offices who are “looking the other way” out of defiance or fear..

Perhaps my choice of media is too narrow, but whenever the astronomical leap in crime is raised on talk radio shows, there is a flood of calls in which extravagant, automatic and unmitigated sympathy is expressed for the police. Callers note what a tough job they have, how little support they receive for it, and how it is no wonder that retirements are up so much, etc.  There are appeals to listeners to give random words of encouragement to police officers and give them verbal pats at every chance.

I am neither a reflexive critic nor defender of police.  My feelings depend on the behavior of the individual under circumstances that must be established objectively. 

But one thing I’ve noticed from the passionate and unequivocal police boosters is that they never correlate bad statistics about crime with the professionalism or competence of cops.  When crimes goes down, they laud the police, but when they go up, they sympathize with the police who are assumed beyond doubt to be blameless and not accountable.
Why is it not the same when it comes to teachers and the challenges of education?

Invariably, if reading scores or graduation rates go down and suspension rates go up, the same people who hold the police harmless for bad outcomes condemn teachers as being at fault when the data doesn’t break their way.
They see, and if necessary create, complexities and pretexts to explain the odds that the police are up against that are beyond their control, but they balk at giving the same benefit to teachers.

Teachers do not set policy for education any more than police officers do for law enforcement.  Let’s sympathize with cops when justified and let’s do the same for educators. 

Ron Isaac

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