Teacher Wars and Teaching Machines

Boundary 2:

eaching is, according to the subtitle of education journalist Dana Goldstein’s new book, “America’s Most Embattled Profession.” “No other profession,” she argues, ”operates under this level of political scrutiny, not even those, like policing or social work, that are also tasked with public welfare and are paid for with public funds.”

That political scrutiny is not new. Goldstein’s book The Teacher Wars chronicles the history of teaching at (what has become) the K–12 level, from the early nineteenth century and “common schools” — that is, before before compulsory education and public school as we know it today — through the latest Obama Administration education policies. It’s an incredibly well-researched book that moves from the feminization of the teaching profession to the recent push for more data-driven teacher evaluation, observing how all along the way, teachers have been deemed ineffectual in some way or another — failing to fulfill whatever (political) goals the public education system has demanded be met, be those goals be economic, civic, or academic.