Monday, August 24, 2015

We Hate You, Teachers, the School Reformers Said

Hello, teachers. We are the people with all the great plans to fix America’s schools. Did you know we hate you?

Yes, we do.

We are not the children you teach. Nor are we their parents. (In terms of ethics and honesty, the public rates you just below nurses, doctors and pharmacists.) It doesn’t matter to us. We hate you still.

Who are we? We are reformers who, in our insufferable arrogance, insist you must save every child. When you cannot—because no ever has—we denigrate your efforts. We question your professionalism. We are men and women who will not teach, or teach only briefly. And yet, somehow, we know it all. We are the Guggenheim’s and Bloomberg’s and Gates’ who have solutions for every problem in the public schools, but send our children to private schools.

In ways you can never fathom (probably because you aren’t very smart) we care more about children than you do.

We prove how much we care by offering up bold plans to save every child. You must implement these plans, of course. We are too rich and important and busy giving advice—and did we mention how smart we are?

If our plans fail, it can’t be our fault.

It has to be you.

Who are we? We are the politicians who hamstring your every move. We want you to save every child by piling up data. Data will save them all! Pile that data high!

Now pile it higher!

We want you to give plenty of standardized tests because lobbyists pay us to insure we push for more tests. We want you to stop complaining in your teachers’ lounges, even if we change our minds every August about which tests you must actually give. We tell all our friends your unions are the main problem in education today. We say dealing with you is like dealing with terrorists.

We want to punch you in the face.

We are the pundits who insult you daily in newspapers and on TV. We are authors of books about teaching, people who never taught, but we know exactly what we would do to save every child if we were in your shoes. Indeed, we blame you for every problem America faces today. We mock you.

We hate you, too.

But who are we, really? Sometimes, we wake in the middle of the night, and we think about what we’ve done. And we know in our hearts that we are cowards. We toss and turn because we know we have asked you to do all the fighting that must be done to save the children. We don’t save a soul.

We criticize. We don’t act.

We weren’t there at Sandy Hook when you and the children were slaughtered like sheep in a pen. We weren’t there when Colleen Ritzer was murdered in a bathroom at the school where she taught. We weren’t there to tackle the gunman at Chardon High. We have no plan to address violence in schools and don’t really care what happens to you. We are the fools in Congress, whose approval rating hasn’t topped 20% since September 2012. We are the governors and state lawmakers who hold out our hands to receive fat contributions from corporate education interests. All you do is hold the hands of traumatized Chicago second graders, or scared Nevada middle school kids who have just seen blood spilled, on the way to, or at their schools.

We are the men and women who act like we know more about saving children than you do, even if you have spent six years, or sixteen, or thirty-six in a classroom, working with kids. We have spent no time in a classroom, most of us, or labored only two or three years. Then we tired of the challenge. We realized we were better suited to giving advice and piling up fat speaking fees, often by lambasting you. “Here is what you need to do,” we insisted, “if you want to save every child.” But we don’t think you do. We tell everyone you are lazy, and protected by tenure, and stupid, too.

We are the bureaucrats who put together studies no one, save other bureaucrats, will ever read, who pile data in giant heaps. We say you can never have enough data, not when it comes to saving kids. We are the types who become U. S. Secretaries of Education without ever saving one child.

Who are you, teachers? You are nothing to us.

But who are you, really? Your students think you matter. Their parents do, too. You are the educator who teaches the painfully shy five-year-old to speak in kindergarten for the first time. You are the third grade teacher who consoles the boy who just found out his parents are going to file for divorce. You are the teacher who helps the fifth grader who weeps one morning at school, after his drunken mother shaves large patches in his head the night before, who sends him to the counselor. You are the counselor and the school nurse who cut off the remaining, random tufts of hair, so the poor young man will feel a bit better in the end.

You are the foot soldiers of education. The battlefield is your classroom, where all the fighting takes place. It is there you labor without respite to fire great kids from fine homes with a passion to excel. And on that same battlefield you try to save the sixth grader who comes to class smelling of urine because he and his mother call a rusted out station wagon home. It will not be easy saving this boy. You know that—even if the people who criticize you so cavalierly do not.

(Or perhaps they know, and don’t care.)

Who are you? You are the special education instructor who must help autistic twins fit in with the other kids in the seventh grade. You are the junior varsity track coach who motivates girls to run harder than they ever thought they could. You are the tenth grade Language Arts teacher who can spot the unnecessary word in any sentence, in any essay you receive, a word like a wart on a beauty queen’s nose, and convince a young writer to cut it out.

This is who you really are. You deal with teens every day, kids who belong to gangs, gifted teens, teens who are contemplating suicide and want to know if you have time to talk. Many of you have been fighting for young people almost your entire adult lives. You have embraced the challenge. You have not wavered or quit. But you are more frustrated than at any time in your careers.

You are sick of the haters who have no earthly clue.

You are the art teacher who fuels a fire of creativity in your fourth grade kids.

You are the middle school band instructor who turns bleating trumpet players into future professional musicians.

You are the health teacher who reaches that obese kid and shows her a path that will help her lose weight.

You are the biology teacher who inspires a young woman who goes on to Ohio State and to graduate school at Yale.

You are the math teacher who feeds the thirst for knowledge of a future Rhodes Scholar.

You are legion. You are men and women who give up evenings every week and Sunday afternoons to call parents, work on lesson plans, attend concerts and games, and catch up on tall stacks of ungraded papers, projects and artwork.

Really, who are you? You are the people who labor long and hard to save every child.

And, really, who are we? You do all the fighting. We talk and talk. We are shirkers in the fight to save children.

We hate you in the end because when we look in a mirror, we see what we truly are and what we are not.


No standardized tests necessary!!!!!


  1. Replies
    1. I am happy to do my part to defend the efforts of real, dedicated teachers. Thanks for reading.

  2. Great read. Puts the truth of what's happening into some harsh, over-the-top emotion...but it's true! Why are these outspoken clown/reformers never confronted with their own lack of willingness/experience-earned authority? Just more media coverage, highly paid speaking engagements, lucrative placements on made up edu-organizations. The infestation of private money into public order to take control of even more public money? It's sick.

  3. Semper Fi

    Do you know what former or active U.S. Marines---and this included former Special Forces troops too----do to those who hate them and harm them or their family and friends?

    It isn't pretty.

    I think the RheeFormers are poking a hornets nest messing with more than 3 million public school teachers, their families and 50 million school children with almost 100 million parents. I wonder how many former Marines and Special Forces troops are included in those numbers as a parent, family member, significant other or supportive friend.

    It isn't going to be pretty when the nest reacts.

    1. Thanks for reading. This is really funny. Sadly, I was a supply clerk during my time in the Marines. So I know combat the way those idiot reformers know teaching. Not at all.