Governor LePage’s contempt for classroom teachers is in the American tradition

By now it is hardly surprising that Governor LePage has contempt for nearly all educators outside of vocational schools and vocational departments within comprehensive schools. His recent comments that classroom teachers are a dime “a dozen” and waste their time and that of their students in using books is, alas, as American as apple pie. Hostility toward “book learning” is indeed as old as the Republic, not that LePage–with his wholesale ignorance about American history–would appreciate that fact.

The great American historian Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963) is the most important work on the mindset of LePage and like-minded Americans. It has lost none of its initial significance since its publication. But don’t look for a copy in the Blaine House.

In truth, as Maine’s education leaders have already noted, there is no necessary conflict between what one historian has called “shop culture” and “school culture.” If anything, many state education leaders have repeatedly called for greater resources to offer alternatives to the liberal arts curriculum for students whose talents and leanings are exactly in vocational areas. Instead of supporting these efforts, LePage, typically, criticizes what he doesn’t understand and, as always, cares nothing about hurting Maine’s public image. One can imagine the reaction to LePage’s “fighting words” on the part of Maine’s teachers and teacher aides, above all those younger ones who might now consider moving to another state to pursue their professional ambitions.

Ironically, of course, it is Governor LePage and his band of pathetic anti-intellectuals who are “a dime a dozen.” Or maybe a mere nickel.