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“See, the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you’re gonna start doing some thinking on your own and you’re gonna come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life. One, don’t do that. And Two, you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f***in education you coulda got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.”
— Good Will Hunting
Oscar-winning actor and Howard Zinn disciple Matt Damon has demonstrated once again that he’s not actually the Boston boy genius Will Hunting in real life. The star of the “Bourne Identity” and “Ocean’s Eleven” series made an appearance at the July 30 “Save Our Schools” rally at the White House to repeat the teachers union party line and support a broken educational system.
ThinkProgress featured a video of Damon at the event joking about summers in the Hamptons and on a yacht from the supposedly lavish teacher salary his mother earned when he was a child:
The subject Damon was confronted with by Reason TV’s Michelle Fields is especially important. Fields challenged Damon with the fact that union-negotiated K-12 teacher contracts make it very difficult to fire poor teachers once they have attained tenure:
Fields: In acting there isn’t job security, right? There is an incentive to work hard and be a better actor because you want to have a job. So why isn’t it like that for teachers?
Damon: You think job insecurity is what makes me work hard?
Fields: Well you have an incentive to work harder.
Damon: [Shakes head] I want to be an actor, that’s not an incentive. That’s the thing. See you take this MBA-style thinking, right? It’s the problem with ed policy right now. It’s this intrinsically paternalistic view of problems that are much more complex than that. It’s like saying a teacher is going to get lazy when they have tenure. A teacher wants to teach. I mean why else would you take a shitty salary and really long hours and do that job unless you really love to do it?
Cameraman: Ten percent of teachers are bad… Ten percent of people in any profession maybe should think of something else.
Damon: Well, OK, maybe you’re a shitty cameraman, I don’t know.
Damon was unprepared to deal with one of the least controversial, obvious, and devastating problems in education today. While he’s correct that the challenges to the educational system are complex, this specific one is very simple – which is why both conservatives and some leftists agree on it.
Making it easier to fire bad teachers is one of the self-evident solutions to the country’s educational shortcomings. The concept of tenure originally was meant solely for the college level. It was there so there could be something real to support the concept of academic freedom. Professors would not have to worry about controversial research and the threat of being fired for exploring unpopular ideas. Tenure usually was only awarded after more than a decade in which a Ph.D.-credentialed scholar proved his devotion to academia. This is out of place in the K-12 environment and certainly does not work when tenure can be achieved in just a few years by those with only a bachelor of arts degree. The only people who benefit are unions who are able to collect dues from the bottom 10% of teachers who should have been fired long ago.
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