Friday, April 12, 2013

What Lots of Teachers Think but THIS Teacher Is Not Afraid to Say

I'm afraid this is a very angry post, though not without purpose, and hope. I've removed most of the profanity from my earlier draft.  That's as close as I'll get to "nice."

A video is circulating around the internet right now called "What Lots of Teachers Think But Are Afraid To Say."  It is a sweetly and very reasonably narrated short piece that gently pleads for parents to recognize the realities of modern public education, and come to the table more informed and aware. Sounds good to me.  "Please, educate yourselves; have a voice on an issue..." the narrator intones.  Much of what she says sounds good to me, in a general sense.  She is, in my opinion, not angry, not urgent, not insistent enough. (One of the advantages of the high ground is that it's great for raining down arrows.) But  she's right about one thing: many teachers are afraid to say these things to to anyone other than a fellow teacher.

Actually... a few of us aren't scared to say it; teachers just need to be prepared to face the consequences. If you do say these things, administrators will not want you at their school. They don't want teachers to be honest with them; they CERTAINLY do not want teachers to be honest with parents, and as teachers, we are regularly instructed not to be honest with our students.

Teachers have to be prepared to put it all on the line. If you get transferred to a less desirable school out of spite? Bring it on, bitches. If you get canned? Bring it on, bitches. If enough teachers just learn to say, "Bring it on, bitches," or choose to do what Gerald Conti did, eventually, with patience, time, and sheer numbers, eventually, teachers will win the day.

Parents with children in the schools, many of them, anyway, will understand. They may even appreciate it.  There's a lot of anti-teacher rhetoric among government, district/state level administration and certain for-profit educational publishers, but it's subtle, insidious. The really visceral anti-teacher rhetoric is coming from pundits and certain highly vocal (often anonymously, of course) swaths of a grossly uninformed general public, both of which can be safely ignored. And the Pearsons, Common Cores, Say Yeses, etc.... of the world would not dare ratchet up their subtle anti-teacher rhetoric to the level of actually calling teachers out in an obvious public way. A principled assault by teachers against the system that is screwing them over can ONLY result in victory for teachers if their commitment doesn't flag.

But the first time teachers start to waver in fear (of their job, or whatever), the first time they swallow the "you've got to pick your battles" Kool-Aid, the first time they surrender one IOTA of their sacred charge to the cadre of rent-a-morons charged with gradually making teachers and and their livelihood obsolete -- that's when all hope is lost. Teachers cannot just close their classroom doors, pretend that their four walls are all that matter, bite the pillow, and pray that it ends soon.


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