If Every Job Required a Pledge

August 22nd, 2011 at 3:09 pm | 12 Comments |

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The new school year is almost here. Teacher assignments should be coming out soon. I hope my daughter gets the teacher who has signed the pledge. You know, pharm the one that says that while in the classroom, the teacher will never, ever deviate from the textbook. I think it’s called: The Textbook Protection Pledge.

We need teachers who will stick to black and white – the words written in the textbook – not ones who gets sidetracked by things like creativity, flexibility, and innovation. I certainly don’t want the teacher who uses judgment about a particular situation, you know, situational ethics. My daughter better not get the teacher who reaches across the hallway to work with the teachers on the other side.

If our teachers don’t stick to the pledge, we’ll have to get rid of them.  Thank goodness we have politicians who know how important pledges are.

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12 Comments so far ↓

  • balconesfault

    I almost started to respond with a screed …

    Well played, Christine. The sad thing is that an article like this comes very close to proving that Poe’s Law can be applied to today’s conservative movement.

    • ceruleanbill

      I agree completely — with your first response, and then the rest of it. Well done, indeed.

  • ConnerMcMaub

    This reminds me of Jimmy Stewart describing the typical notes Hitchcock would give him, “That’s good Jimmy, but, but, more.” Oliver Twist, “Please sir, I’d like some more”. How about judges and mandatory sentences? Larry O’Donnell has gone on and on about how pledges undermine one’s oath of office and basically makes it impossible for you to negotiate.

    • balconesfault

      Larry O’Donnell has gone on and on about how pledges undermine one’s oath of office and basically makes it impossible for you to negotiate.

      Well, that is essentially the point. The extremists who are demanding these pledges fundamentally believe that their political opponents are bent on destroying America, if not an actual force of evil in league with Satan.

      You can’t really compromise with someone who you believe fundamentally wants to destroy America, can you?

  • Graychin

    Pledges originate in an authoritarian mindset. These authoritarians believe that ordinary people can’t be trusted to exercise good judgment in the exercise of their duties, so we must make them pledge not to vary from the established orthodoxy. And punish or fire them if they violate the pledge.

    Who will select the judge who decides whether a pledge has been violated? The same person who selected Grover Norquist?

    I have no respect for politicians who sign pledges, ceding their decision-making to someone else and discounting the possibility of unforeseen circumstances. It’s like putting their family jewels in someone else’s lockbox.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    You know, the one that says that while in the classroom, the teacher will never, ever deviate from the textbook.

    The funny thing is I generally don’t, at least as far as my mandatory testings go. I let the students know if you study the material in the book and understand it, you will pass the test. How I present the material in the book, and the supplemental material, is my own invention but it could not be otherwise. But don’t knock good textbooks as foundation.

    One reference book I have in my office is Warriners Handbook of English Book one. Out of curiousity I looked at Amazon for the price of it, it sells there for over $500. My condition is a little bit more ragged so maybe I could get $400 for it but I will never sell it.

    Yes, I know this is not the authors intent, but some text books are masterpieces that I can not hope to improve upon and I would not mind a teacher who pledged to have students thoroughly master the contents of some of them.

  • the lee

    Any elected official that signs a pledge to always do X or never do Y assumes that the pledge writer and the pledge signer know the optimal solution to every conceivable problem related to problems X and Y…….before the problem actually occurs.

    If there were a CEO of a company that said, “I will never cut jobs and always increase production regardless of the circumstances.”…..I would immeidately sell all my shares in that company because that company is doomed.

    If there were a head coach for a football team that said, “I will never go for it on 4th down and will never use on-side kicks.”…..that head coach would promptly be fired.

    You can’t mechanically know the solution to future problems. That assumes prescience. Having philosophical principles is well and good, but that can’t be a substitute for situational analysis.

    In poker, sometimes you lay down AA preflop and sometimes you move all in with 72 offsuit.

  • LFC

    Being handed your positions on a platter and then demanding 100% compliance is easy. It’s even easy when the positions shift because the President you don’t like had the audacity to agree with you. On the other hand, governing is hard. Republicans have simultaneously taken the former road and increasingly proven their inability to handle the latter.

  • Churl

    A good many jobs require what might be considered a pledge: its usually called an employment contract which defines what an employee may or may not do on the job as well as some (usually rather dilute) responsibilities of the employer.

    I happen to think that Grover Norquist is a goof. That said, the general idea of politicians promising to do something and then doing what they promised does not necessarily portend the end of good governance.

    By way of example, think how much happier the left would be if Obama had closed Guantanamo.

    • the lee


      I think the analogy you are using is not apt.

      In the case of an employment contract, the employer has intimate knowledge and deep understanding of what the employee is expected to do. I own a small business (on the side) and I have a few employees. I know exactly what each of them does and frankly, I could do any of their jobs better than they can. I know what I pay them to the penny, how many hours they work each week, and constantly measure their performance. There is literally no human being on earth who understands my overall business better than I do.

      Your analogy breaks down because the median voter is not analogously capable of understanding the performance of their elected officials to the degree an employer is of their employees.

      I can use pledges in my business because I know my business better than my employees. Voters should not demand pledges because they definitely do not understand the issues facing the government as well as their employee (the elected official).

      Haha…..a system like that makes no sense. That would be like the shareholders telling the CEO how to run the business or the kids telling the teacher how to write an essay. When the shareholders destroy the company…..you really can’t act surprised. They’re shareholders….plumbers, nurses, soldiers, etc. They are not CEOs.

  • Bunker555

    If post-war teachers in Japan had stuck to what was in school textbooks, Japan would never have risen to be the great power it became. The lies propagated by the Japanese Ministry of Education regarding the Emperor, the imperial military, China, and foreigners were totally rejected by teachers who believed in the truth. Japan’s problems are due to an aging population that’s living longer, unstable political leadership, and economic stagnation. Socratic Japanese teachers are slowly and steadily raising a new breed of Japanese that will excel the last generation during the post-Olympic boom that created Bullet trains, high quality cars, good beer, consumer electronics, and bio-tech products.

    Agree that Norquist , in spite of his education, is an idiot.