The question of how teachers are evaluated is a big one these days, with changes to the evaluation process being put in place in California and across the country. The debate is accompanied by rhetoric about “a war against teachers,” in which they’re supposedly being scapegoated for the problems of schools.

I’ve listened to this rhetoric, and I don’t get it.

I’m not an educator or Matt Damon, so maybe I’m just not smart enough to see how the following elements amount to war:

Teachers are being put under greater scrutiny because more and more people have concluded that their work is very, very important. Statistical analysis of their work and their students’ progress is being used to evaluate them and make them better. Newspapers are publishing some of this data and analysis, adding the element of public pressure. Experts are coming up with a variety of ways to observe teachers more closely with an eye toward improving their performance. Proposals are being offered to pay teachers who do well in evaluations even more. There’s also a lot of effort and money – including money from billionaires – being devoted to improving their education and training.

If that’s a war, I wish someone would declare a war against my profession.

We journalists know about being under the gun.

If there’s a war against teachers, then what do you call the following?

Political parties, consultants and interest groups devote – over years – literally billions of dollars to campaigns that, among other things, broadcast the message that journalists are biased and not to be trusted. (Think this is an exaggeration? A presidential candidate, who was ousted as Speaker of the House, reached the top of the polls and won the South Carolina primary by blasting the media). Corporate entities slash thousands of journalists job, robbing many of their livelihoods. Newspapers and magazines close by the hundreds. Those journalists who remain working make much less. Does anyone care? Not really—the change is celebrated as a new era of citizen journalism in which the public is empowered to tell its own stories.

New technology and Internet companies rise to power in part by disseminating, without payment, the work of journalists. Then these companies are celebrated publicly for their rise and their profits, and their millionaire and billionaire executives spend time lecturing the journalists still working about how they don’t understand the future. When journalists try to adapt – by doing more journalism, faster – they are condemned for the errors created by that speed.

And, of course, in the “war on teachers” narrative, journalists are the bad guys, supposed collaborators in the fight against instructors.

It’s a bit rich, isn’t it?

One talking point of teachers has been that critics should switch jobs with to see how hard things are.

I’ll take them up on it.

Yes, teaching jobs are tough work. And yes, teaching is vital to democracy and society. But teaching provides more security and often better pay than many important and tough professions, including journalism. (True fact: the average California teacher makes a salary – just under $68,000 in 2010 — that most journalists I know would jump at).

So to any teacher out there whining about a war, let me offer a suggestion. Try to make a living as a journalist for a while. I suspect you’ll begin to see the scrutiny and demands put on teachers as what they are: a great compliment.