On the Hanging of Census Workers and Our Education Scapegoats

The hanging of a census worker is going to be quickly dismissed by the Right as the work of meth-heads or moonshiners.

I’m not sure I’d disagree with that analysis. But what it misses is this: all those ACORN workers that the Right has been demeaning over the past weeks? All those census workers that Bachman has been demonizing?

They work incredibly difficult and dangerous jobs. Like many of the government workers that the Glenn Beck crowd demeans, they serve in areas rural and urban that Glenn Beck would pee himself to drive through.

And lest people think this is too political for an education blog, consider this the next time you hear a middle manager or millionaire pundit dig into teachers as “leeches on the state”:

Between 1996 and 2000, 599,000 violent crimes against teachers at school were reported. On average, in each year from 1996 to 2000, about 28 out of every 1,000 teachers were the victims of violent crime at school, and 3 out of every 1,000 were victims of serious violent crime (i.e., rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault). Some teachers are at greater risk for victimization. Male teachers are more than twice as likely to be victims of violent crime, and teachers at middle/junior high schools are at greater risk than those in elementary or senior high schools. Violence against teachers is also higher at urban schools.

Additionally, teachers face threats of violence and intimidation. In the 1999-2000 school year, 9 percent of all teachers were threatened with injury by a student from their school, and 4 percent were physically attacked by a student.

I’m furious right now. I can barely keep the string of obscenities in check.

You’ll hear a lot of right-wingers talk today about how they are not responsible for Bill Sparkman’s death. I can’t imagine a lower bar. Census workers, teachers, and social workers deserve more from the Right than an alibi. They deserve respect and support for their work, and I would not lay off the Right until they get it.


2 Comments on “On the Hanging of Census Workers and Our Education Scapegoats”

  1. Jared Stein says:

    Mike, I don’t see the connection between teachers being threatened or attacked by students at school and right-wingers at all. Are you saying conservatives don’t appreciate ANY government employees, even teachers? That’s not true where I live.

    I hope you’re not implying that right-wingers are indirectly responsible for such violence, but that instead you’re saying right-wingers don’t respect these people enough because they have dangerous jobs.

    Even so, whether a job is dangerous or not is secondary to its value to society. I believe teachers and census workers are quite valuable to society, and therefore respect them more for their willingness to go into dangerous areas.

    There will be jobs whose value we disagree on, but that doesn’t mean I wish violence on them. For instance, I have little respect for ACORN because I don’t see their value to society outweighing their corruption/corruptibility. Any degree of danger inherent in their job doesn’t even enter into my opinion. If it did, I might as well go whole-hog and say that gangsters deserve respect and support because their line of work is often fatal.

    P.S. I’m sure I listen to way more conservative pundits than you, and yet I don’t hear census workers being “demonized”. I DO hear the census _questions_ being criticized, and I do hear concerns about how census data might be used. That becomes an argument of ideas and beliefs, not of us vs. them.

  2. Mike says:

    Hey Jared — sorry — somehow I missed this comment.

    I’d have to write a bigger response, but I see a lot of demonization actually, even down to the level of local government, where government employees apparently forfeit basic expectations of privacy etc.

    But on the whole I am (as you correctly deduce) saying that right-wingers tend to devalue the work that government employees do, portraying them as pigs at the teat, etc. There’s a reason ACORN was contracted out for certain tasks — the tasks really suck, and pay crap.

    but maybe a longer response later.


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