By April 25, 2015 Uncategorized 26 Comments

Last week, I posted an analogy that asked readers to imagine what it would be like to be a high school football coach, IF their job evaluation was set up the same way as a teacher’s.

Apparently, it struck a chord as it has quickly become my most read blog post ever that didn’t include a reference to our former state superintendent, whose name shall not be mentioned again on the pages of this blog.

However, not all the comments were favorable. Take a look at this sweet sentiment from some person named JBoston:

“Typical. Exactly what I have come to expect from a bunch of lazy govt employees who are threatened that their free ride is about to end. Teaching is, quite literally, the only career without any measurable manner in which to determine if a teacher is good or lousy. Now that’s coming to an end and all the lousy one’s are fuming mad.

Hmmm.  You know that our former superintendent has a J in her name. She also spent some time in BOSTON with Jeb Bush and his Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) organization at their annual reformers’ “pep rally” in 2013. A pseudonym perhaps?

Oh, probably not.

It’s probably just another idiot whose lips are bright red from drinking copious quantities of the reformers’ Kool-Aid: a potion that poisons people into believing “schools suck and teachers are lazy.” A “free ride,” seriously?

Well, Mr. /Mrs. Boston, I have news for you. Any semblance of what you refer to as a “free ride” in education was removed a long time ago.

Please do come to my school and try to teach five classes filled with adolescent students having special needs or emotional disabilities each and every day. Or spend a few days at a north Tulsa high school teaching algebra to 15-year-olds, some of whom are just biding their time until they can just drop out and hit the streets. They will chew you up and spit you out.

It is more than what you call, “the lousy ones,” who are fuming mad. So are the great ones. We are incensed by people like you who think you have all the answers, yet probably couldn’t lead a drunk to happy hour, let alone teach a classroom of 25 eight-year-olds to read and add fractions.

We are fuming mad!

We are fuming mad that state and national education policy for the past twenty years has been led by a top-down hierarchy that is completely detached from the classrooms for which it is supposed to be responsible.

We are fuming mad that government bureaucrats have turned the education of our children into a contest with winners and losers. We are not in a damn race! To the contrary, we are educating unique human beings.

We are fuming mad at being treated like untrustworthy slackers through overbearing policies and restrictive mandates which reduce autonomy and are based on assuming the worst from teachers. Teachers are some of the hardest working, committed, and caring people I know.

We are fuming mad for being continually accused of not caring about our jobs and “losing generations of children.”

We are fuming mad to watch our families struggle financially as we pursue our passion to be educators and positively influence the lives of children. Many teachers have graduate degrees yet are paid less than a car salesman with a two-year associate’s degree.

We are fuming mad about our state’s refusal to address the critical shortage of teachers by offering fair and reasonable compensation for our services. At the same time, they have no problem providing tax breaks for billion-dollar corporations and passing ridiculous income tax cuts to get reelected.

We are fuming mad having to observe our students slouch under the weight of a system that values them based on how they perform on standardized tests. These tests are a terrible way to measure the potential of a human being and tell us very little about a student’s readiness for college, careers, or life.

We are fuming mad because we are forced to label young children as unsatisfactory based solely on results of a once-a-year standardized test. As an adult, precisely how long would you work for a boss who routinely left notes on your desk calling you unsatisfactory based on a few traits, while completely ignoring your natural strengths and interests?

We are fuming mad when we watch our students produce amazing things, which show their true understanding of 21st century skills, only to see their looks of disappointment when they don’t meet the arbitrary expectations of low-level state tests that do not assess their true skills.

We are fuming mad when we are told how important it is to differentiate our instruction as we simultaneously prepare kids for tests that are anything but differentiated.

We are fuming mad that our job of nurturing the natural curiosity and innate passions of young children has been hijacked into one focused on teaching kids how to bubble in answers on a standardized test.

We are fuming mad for being blamed for every failure of our communities and neighborhood households. It is not fair to expect a teacher–in six hours–to fully offset the negative effects of poverty, hunger, crime, abuse, neglect, poor health, lack of clothing, and unsafe streets that a child faces in the other 18 hours of his day.

We are fuming mad when our value as educators is based on subjective observations on a standardized rubric, one that views a third grade teacher exactly the same as a high school PE teacher or a middle school orchestra teacher.

We are fuming mad when our skills and talents as an educator are narrowed down to a single number based on how our varied students do on a non-varied state test.

We are fuming mad when a young child with dyslexia, special needs, or an English language learner new to our country, is retained in third grade and separated from his or her friends–perhaps the one source of stability and joy in their lives.

We are fuming mad when a high school student from a dysfunctional, abusive home is denied a diploma because he cannot pass an algebra exam that 80% of successful people over the age of 30 could not pass today.

We are fuming mad when we are forced to be an unpaid administrator of field tests that take advantage of children for the sake of corporate profit.

We are fuming mad of being asked to trick parents into believing that their children are being prepared for the complex world ahead, based on how they perform on standardized tests, rather than what really counts (and cannot be measured): creativity, problem solving, resiliency, empathy, communication skills, teamwork, enthusiasm, and love for learning.

Finally, we are fuming mad when people without a clue pompously pretend to know what to do relative to “fixing” public education in America.

So, here is a challenge, JBoston. Put your money where your mouth is. Please do leave another one of your insightful comments. However, this time, please tell us what YOU do for a living.  I guarantee my readers will be happy to share their anecdotal experiences with the many lazy and lousy people from your profession as well.

Then maybe you will get a taste of what it is like to be a public school teacher today.

Let’s see how fuming mad you can get.

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