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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Customer is Always Right

In my last post dealing with some of the problems in education today, I focused on the lack of respect afforded to teachers in an overall sense. I noted how that lack of respect translates into power being given to students and their parents, and into lack of teacher support from those same people and administration. I'd like to discuss those aspects in a bit more detail now.

As I've noted before, school feels like big business these days. The customer is always right--and, in this case, the customers are the parents and the students. What's worse than the fact that this is the case, though, is the fact that they know they are in charge and are calling the shots. As parents (and students, appallingly enough) never seem to tire of saying, "We pay your salary!"

Over the course of the past few weeks, many of the people who disagree with me have said that 'kids will be kids.' Apparently, according to some folks, kids have always been rebellious. It's in their nature, they want to push the envelope, they are experimenting and coming into their own, etc. We've all had our moments as kids, they say.

Nobody is contending that all kids are terrible; nor is anyone arguing that teenagers are still developing and learning how to be contributing members of society.

However, once upon a time, rebelliousness had ramifications and consequences. Once upon a time, if a kid got in trouble in school, he may feel shame at school for getting into trouble in the first place and that alone might help him learn from the experience. He may feel an ounce of fear at what his parents would say. When he got home, his parents might discipline him for the action and it may correct the behavior.

I remember a situation from my own childhood, an incident that occurred back in 2nd grade. It was filmstrip day and the three 2nd grade classes were gathered in one of the classrooms. (Filmstrips are outdated technology, for those of you asking yourselves, "What the hell is a filmstrip?" Filmstrips are strips of film that have images on them that were shown on a type of projector. Pretty much a movie, though classically, filmstrips dealt with educational subjects and videos were more 'fun' to watch because they were usually major motion pictures. But I digress...) While the filmstrip was being set up, I was chatting with the two boys on either side of me. The teachers said for everyone to quiet down so they could begin the film. We didn't stop talking. We were sent into the hallway. The teacher who escorted us to the hall told us that we were welcome to come back in when we were ready to listen. I remember not only being completely mortified for getting yelled at, but also completely paranoid that my mom was going to come around the corner and see me in the hall and punish me on the spot. (For the record, there was no reason my mom would have been at the school--I was just paranoid that she would be that day as I was sitting guiltily in the hall.) Soon after, the teacher came back into the hall and asked if we were ready to cooperate. We all said that we were, apologized profusely, and were allowed to rejoin the activity. That night when I went home, I confessed everything to my parents and we discussed the importance of following directions and how the punishment was fair, and that was that. I'd learned a lesson.

But that scene does not play out the same way today. (Again, this is not true of all students and all parents, but it is the increasing trend.) Today it would be more likely that when the teacher told the student to go in the hall in the first place, she would get some lip about it. "Why? I wasn't doing anything! I was just talking!" Then, the teacher might get a call from the parents wanting to know why the teacher had embarrassed their child in front of her peers. Then, the teacher might get called to the principal's office (because the parent also called there to complain), and might have to explain the entire scenario to the principal as well, by way of justifying the situation as it played out. The next day, the students might even come to class and brag to one another that they'd gotten the teacher in trouble.

Many parents don't punish their kids today. Instead of disciplining them, they want to be their friends (or are afraid of them). After a teacher contacts a parent as a result of a student misbehaving in class, students can come into class the next day and say, "Yeah, you called my mom last night and she told me I wasn't going out because you called. But I was like, 'Whatever, Mom. You know you aren't going to punish me. I'm going out whether you want me to or not. So you might as well give me $10. And she did. So there!'" Students seem to enjoy approaching teachers after a contact has been made to tell the teacher that their parents either didn't care, or didn't punish them, or thought what they did was funny, or something of the sort.

Teachers are required to make these parent contacts when any behavior issue comes up, or if grades start slipping, or if anything else of concern occurs. But what the parents choose to do with this information is not always helpful or heartening. As a teacher, you can call home and a few things could happen:

1. The parent will say all the right things, but nothing will change. "Oh, absolutely. I can't believe he said/did that. We'll definitely talk to him. Keep us informed." But the behavior doesn't change. So either the conversation did not take place, or there was not an appropriate consequence for it, or the student will lie to get out of a punishment, or something else.

2. The parent will turn the situation around on the teacher. "Oh really. Well, I'm sure if he said that, he must've had a good reason. He's on the honor roll, you know, and he feels like you don't like him." In this case, too, the behavior doesn't change because there are no conversations taking place with the student because now the teacher is put on the defensive and there's an insinuation that the behavior is justified.

3. The parent will say the right things, and the behavior will change. "I'm so sorry. We'll speak with him tonight. That is unacceptable and he knows better." The behavior changes, the situation is rectified, and class runs a lot more smoothly for everyone involved, AND teachers and parents can feel comfortable knowing that they are a team committed to making a positive learning environment for student learning.

Sadly, this third outcome is happening less and less often as the years go by.

There is also this parental push--which I feel is a terrible disservice to students (and society as a whole) if one considers the long-term ramifications of it--to protect their kids from every punishment, large or small.

I know that a big part of parenting is about protecting one's children. It's right and natural to want to protect them. But parents need to be less afraid of letting their kids learn life lessons.

We all make mistakes in life. It's PART of life, part of growing up. Nobody doesn't make mistakes along the way. It's how we learn. But if every mistake we make is excused, ignored, defended, or hidden, how are we going to have a proper gauge of right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate? How will we know what not to do in the future (when, perhaps, it matters even more and bears more significant consequences)? We won't. And students today DON'T.

Take cheating and plagiarism, for instance.

Most schools have a specific set of rules and procedures outlined up front for students as consequences for cheating. However, when cheating inevitably takes place (and the sickening pervasiveness and blase attitude toward the practice is a blog topic of its own), there's this huge push from parents--and even administrators--to modify these consequences.

When the parent contact is made, parents will say things like, "Well, this was a really large portion of Junior's marking period grade. Can't he do a retest? I mean, the zero seems extreme because now he won't be able to pass the marking period."

Um, he CHEATED. He knew the consequence before he did the act. This is one of those cases where facing the consequence which, yes, may be really problematic for him since it may well be a large hit on the 'ole GPA, may actually daunt him from engaging in this behavior again in the future. A lesson could actually be learned.

If teachers attempt to uphold the consequence, there is a good chance that the teacher will be called to task by administration (since, again, the parents like to go over teachers' heads whenever they can), who may ask whether this was a first offense, or may say that, wow, this was a big points item, and perhaps it would be good to just let the kid take a retest. Suddenly, it becomes the teacher's fault that the student cheated ('Were you walking around the room while they tested?' 'What kind of test was it?' 'Are you SURE they cheated?')

Teacher authority is constantly being undermined in this fashion.

Students and their parents know that they wield the power. All they have to do is make a call to administration and--boom!--the teacher will be called to task about every issue.

Administrators--rather than taking the side of the teacher, and saying to a parent or student, "Well, that is the school rule so that will be the consequence" or "I appreciate your concern, but have you discussed the situation with the teacher first? That must always be your first stop"-- coddle them and put their own staff on the defensive. (Wouldn't want to upset the customer, after all.)

Teachers, then, are forced to play rules roulette, and are left wondering which of the outlined rules and procedures are actually going to be upheld and which of them will be modified for the squeaky wheel. When they're modified--when a negotiation takes place behind closed doors (without teacher input) which allows a lesser number of detention hours or when the consequence is excused altogether or when students return to class enjoying a lollipop given to them in their 'disciplinary' meetings--it makes teachers trying to enforce the rules look like weak, ineffectual boobs.

I'm not sure if administrators realize what this does to teacher authority or even the general authority of schools as a whole. If, as an institution, we show that weakness, we're inviting people to expect that rules are meant to be broken, that showing disrespect is ok, and that, no matter what, the customer is always right--even when they're wrong.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Below the Belt Tactics

Well, I shouldn't be surprised at what I just witnessed on the news, though I am because it's absolutely disgusting.

In what was reported as "new revelations" by Channel 10 news, I am now being falsely accused of attacking "special ed students."

At the school board meeting, the superintendent stated that I have made it "impossible" for me to teach in this district, and added that the pain and confusion I've caused by my words is the problem. He cited how this was done, "when she blogged, 'I don't care if you lick windows, take the special bus, or occasionally pee on hang in there Sunshine, you're friggin' special.'"

Then the news, in an effort to really drive home the effect that this was somehow part of the comments I was standing by, showed a clip of me saying that I stand by my statements because they are the truth.

Let me set the record straight right now:

I have NEVER made any anti-special needs comments. The item to which the superintendent was referring was a stock image graphic from online that accompanied my "cooperative in class" blog post that's been the talk of nation for the past 2 weeks.

First, those were NOT my words. They were on the image as it came, and that image can be found easily online.

Second, I didn't select the image as ANY sort of slight or commentary on special needs individuals. I thought it was apropos to the post topic because it reflected the sentiment that I was trying to express within the blog post, which was that no matter what, the comments on the report cards always end up mostly positive.

In no way and in no form did I even read the graphic in a way that was derogatory to people with special needs. I read it in a way that was patting all people on the back regardless of their actions.

From the time I was 3, my grandfather was unable to walk or talk, having suffered a debilitating stroke. And from elementary school onward, my own father has struggled with multiple sclerosis and is now bound to a wheelchair. For my entire life, I've witnessed and experienced the struggles of individuals with special needs and I would NEVER callously make light of them as it has just been suggested that I have done.

It should come as no surprise that the district would endeavor to cast the innocuously selected cartoon in this light to further vilify me, and that the media would latch onto it in an effort to cause further controversy with this ongoing issue.

As I've noted, lack of support from school administration is one of the primary problems in education today, and it seems they will do anything and everything to keep the spotlight off of themselves. Apparently this is the way they play politics, but I'm not a politician; truth and facts will strengthen my cause whereas misinformation will strengthen theirs.

And despite any misinformation that may be presented by others, I will continue to discuss the problematic matters that exist in education today.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bloggate - Part 2: A Surreal Week

I think it is safe to say that this has been the most shocking, unexpected week of my life. To say it's all been surreal would be an understatement.

Just over a week ago I was creating study guides for Oedipus at Colonus, packing lunches for school, and working in the classroom each day. This week, though, I've been the guest on television programs I usually WATCH on television, have given interviews to news agencies that I usually read or listen to, and have received hundreds upon hundreds of emails from people I've never met before, many of whom have been expressing support and encouragement. (Thanks for that, by the way!)

This situation has in all ways changed my life. I'm very routine-oriented. Change, as a rule, scares the beejesus out of me (I used to get mad at my parents if they decided to move the Christmas tree from centered in front of the window to the corner of the room.) So for this degree of change to come at me from all sides--so quickly and unexpectedly--it's been quite an adjustment. And it hasn't just affected me; my family has been going through it, too. Our appetites, health, ability to sleep, and stress levels have all been affected. On the second day, we were so concerned that I made an appointment with my OB to make sure my baby is ok in there; thankfully, she is.

Some negative blog posts have accused me of loving the media attention. Um, sorry to disappoint, but this is not the stuff that dreams are made of (at least, not my dreams; if it was, then I would have gone into news instead of teaching). I was actually on Regis and Kelly when I was 20--I had an ambush makeover. While it was still nerve wracking being on camera, it was exciting and fun and I got a really cute outfit and hairdo out of the deal. This news stuff, though, is very stressful, and is quite a process. (Interesting fact: it takes longer to apply the makeup then it does to do an interview.)

I've been to New York City 3 times in 3 days; today I went to Philadelphia for some satellite stuff. I've been on Justice with Judge Jeanine, Fox and Friends, CBS 3, 6 ABC, NBC 10, Good Morning America, CNN, WFMZ 69. I've talked on radio programs in Toronto, San Francisco, London (the BBC), and Philadelphia 1210. I've sat with reporters from the Intelligencer, the Inquirer, the NY Post, Time magazine, Reuters, and the Associated Press.

I went from being completely unknown to being a cartoon and an allusion; I've even been compared to Sue Sylvester of Glee (as a fan of Glee, I was amused by this comparison and was also heartened to see that she was rated as having the meaner insults by the online polls.)

I've been called "mean" and "unprofessional," but have also been called an "education icon" and a "hero." I even garnered a 97% approval rating on an MSNBC poll--wowsa!

These are not the sorts of things that happen to me on a regular basis. To put it in perspective, a normal day for me involves work, having dinner with my family, and watching General Hospital on my DVR each night. (As it were, I'm now 4 episodes behind as I haven't been able to watch this week since I've been so busy trying to put this blogging scandal into some context and start important conversations about our education system. These matters are obviously more important, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that this is the week that things with the Balkan were supposed to come to a head and Sonny and Brenda are supposed to be getting married, so it's an important week of the show, too!) So, for me, these past 7 days have been the farthest thing from normal.

What is remarkable, though, is that somewhere along the past few days, the focus has shifted a bit from the blog itself and onto the education debate. While I certainly never--not in a million years--thought I'd be so near the center of this conversation, I'm glad it's a conversation that's happening.

There is a lot that people don't realize about the state of education and the work of teachers.

First off, teachers are highly trained professionals, but are not always regarded as such. Ever hear that old (terrible!) gem, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach" ? Yeah? Well, that's highly insulting and, if you think about it, completely absurd. To teach a concept, one needs to be an expert on it so one can break it into parts to make it more understandable and offer the support that's needed to help others grasp it, too. So really, those who CAN, teach! This negative attitude toward teachers is part of the base issue.

People--parents, students, administration, the general public, government officials--need to trust in their highly trained professional teachers. PA public school teachers (and I know this varies by state and, in some cases, by district if there's some emergency need of teachers) generally have the following training:

First, they need a bachelor's degree and must complete (and pay to complete, I might add) an unpaid internship for 4-6 months (the student teaching experience which is on-the-job training in the way of an apprenticeship). Then they earn their Level 1 Temporary certification. Then, they have 6 years to earn their Level 2 Permanent certification, which one achieves after actively working for that time, earning a Master's degree, and having 6 satisfactory observations within one's school. In addition, every 5 years, teachers need to complete additional training (Act 48) to stay current with their certification. That means that teachers are continually trained and educated throughout their time teaching, in an effort to keep them up to date with the latest educational research models and other relevant (and sometimes even irrelevant!) training.

And yet, with all of that specialized training, people second-guess and blame teachers for so many of the problems that exist in education today. Do we go to our doctors and lawyers and tell them how to do their jobs, and second-guess everything they do? Do we stand alongside chefs at restaurants and tell them we think the boulliabaisse looks like it needs some more saffron? No. We trust them to do what they've been trained to do. Of course it's ok to ask questions along the way so we can know why something is happening or understand the process--but at the end of the day, some trust needs to come into play, too. Let's let teachers do their jobs.

Second, there's often a misconception about the work that teachers do on the day-to-day. Some people think that teachers make up one lesson and teach it that way for 25 years. Teaching, though, is not a one-and-done situation. Not only do teachers have to create lessons, they need to modify them to meet the needs of different students with different abilities, aptitudes, learning styles, and the like. In my experience, I've had 3 sections of the same class. Even if I'm teaching the same material, the lesson always changes for each class. Sometimes it's drastic changes--parts are cut, emphasized more, approached differently, for instance--and sometimes it's subtle changes--more examples are provided, more time is allowed to complete a task, the product expectations are different--but there's always some change.

I think that part of the angst toward teachers stems from the fact that we've all had a bad teacher along the way. Yes, of course they exist. But people who are inept in their fields exist in all fields. One or two bad eggs along the way doesn't mean the whole lot of teachers are ineffectual. I also think part of the resentment comes from the summers-off end of things. Trust me when I say this: A. Teachers more than do the work of 12 months in the 10 official months they work, and B. Most teachers work through the summers preparing for the next school year (or even have second jobs in the summer to supplement their incomes.) With many jobs, when you punch out, you go home and the job is done until the next day at punch-in time. The job can be left at the job site. But with teaching, the job is almost never done. Many teachers bring home stacks of work each night and on weekends and over breaks and on vacations, and stay at work long after the sun has gone down. This work is unseen and unknown and, often, not even considered to exist. It becomes even more galling to be accused of being in a "coddled" profession when you know how hard you work but others think you're some lazy slacker. Most teachers aren't seeking an award or applause for this extra work, but would happily settle for some simple respect that they are professionals.

This considered lack of respect for teachers as professionals translates into power being given to students and their parents, and a lack of teacher support from those same people and administration.

I'll cover that topic in my next post.

Until then...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bloggate- Day 1: The Scandal Begins

When I woke up Wednesday morning and went to work, I certainly couldn't have foreseen what my day--and, in turn, the rest of my life--would be like from that point.

My alarm rang as normal and I hit snooze as normal. I dressed; ate breakfast (the most important meal of the day!); chatted with a friend during my drive to work; performed my requisite morning duty as lunch-room monitor whereby I'm supposed to "check for sticky fingers"--the thieving kind, not the danish-eating kind--in the food purchase area and make sure kids clean up after themselves in the dining area; and headed up to the planning center to start the day. All as normal.

But then a colleague pulled me aside to tell me that students had somehow found my blog and were all abuzz and up in arms about how I'd cursed and said negative things about students in it. The colleague wanted me to know in case it became a bigger deal.

I didn't realize, however, that it already WAS a big deal.

Within the hour, I was in a meeting with the principal who had a pile of my blogs printed out and sitting before him. Within the next 15 minutes, I was gathering my bags from my office and being escorted from the building.

I realize that maybe this escort out is standard protocol when someone is suspended from her duties, but I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from remarking to the stone-faced principal, "Um, I assure you, you don't need to walk me to the door. My 8.5 month pregnant self is hardly going to freak out on my waddle out of here!" At one point, it was a Natalie sandwich--the principal, giant melon me, followed by the school security guard. Yes, I was quite the threatening figure there. I'm sure it was supposed to be a walk of shame, but I couldn't help but feel it was over-the-top ridiculous under the circumstances. Were they concerned I would cause a scene as I left? Steal some school materials? Graffiti the walls with a parting message? At worst, I may have stopped to use the bathroom--at this point, I can pretty much always pee.

But that was that. I walked out into the morning light and drove back to my house around 9am, still unaware of quite the degree to which this blog had gotten out there.

Around 2 pm, the first reporter showed up at my house. That is when I started to feel violated. We had to pull our drapes so they couldn't peer into the house. My 3-year-old daughter was confused as to the hullabaloo surrounding her. I told her people wanted to take my picture but I didn't want them to. (I didn't know until a couple of hours later that they already had my picture from the blog cache.) I was a big story on the news that night--after the butt injection situation and among some Lindsay felony-theft news. (A shout-out to Lindsay here for trying to keep me out of the limelight, but felony theft ain't what it used to be, particularly when there are more juicy local scandals around town.) Around dinnertime, the second reporter showed up. The calls trickled in most of the day. It was bizarre that I was getting this much attention over something so mundane.

See, what I'd done was written a casual blog. I talked about everything--such exciting topics as our trip to Sesame Place, my favorite (and least favorite) restaurants, my work experiences, the diaper genie. I had 9 followers--2 of whom were my husband and myself, the other 7 were friends. When I started it, my goal was to write 1-3 times a week, though I didn't usually have time to do it that much. I ended up writing 84 blogs between 8/9/09 and 11/25/10. (I remember that, at one point, my track of blogging was about equal with my gym-going, but my gym-going eventually surpassed my blog track. I went there religiously at least 3 times a week until my morning sickness started...) I slowed down at the end, writing only about 10 blogs between June and November. I was too busy with being pregnant, teaching a new curriculum, and being harassed at school to write anything between November and February.

When I wrote, I kept things as anonymous as possible; I know there are crazies out there and I didn't want anyone trying to track me down. I blogged as "Natalie M" and had no location information or email address or anything listed or accessible. Nor did I ever mention where I worked or the names of students. Yet, there's this perception that I was trying to lambaste everyone in the school without heed. That's bollocks.

What bothers me so much about this situation is that what I wrote is being taken out of context. Of my 84 blogs, 60 of them had absolutely nothing to do with school or work. Of the 24 that mentioned it, only some of them were actually focused on it--others may have mentioned it in passing, like if I was listing things that annoyed me that day and wrote without any elaboration that students were annoying that day.

In essence, people are latching onto pieces of what I wrote without A. knowing any back story, and B. knowing the whole story. The student or parents who took it upon themselves to dig up my blog--and be assured that that is what happened, as they were looking for it and didn't just stumble upon it--are the ones who started this fracas, and they also made sure that only pieces of the whole picture came to light. I'm sure the media helped with that second part, too. After all, a juicy story is more exciting to the masses.

In the now-infamous blog that is circulating across the nation, one of the oft-quoted lines is: "I'm being a renegade right now, living on the edge and, um, blogging AT work. However, as I'm blogging about work stuff, I give myself a free pass of conscience." At least one newspaper reports that the timestamp on the post was 9:01 am on a Thursday. What was conspicuously cut out of the story--and what nobody seems to feel like focusing on or even acknowledging--is the paragraph that followed it and said, "For the record, my computer froze and had to be shut down at work; when I rebooted, I didn't bother signing back on to finish this as other things to do came up. At present, then, I'm not being a renegade at all, as I'm writing this at my kitchen table." I actually wrote and posted that blog from home after 7pm. My archived blog time log records the time the post actually went live.

Furthermore, regarding my discussion of comments I'd like to make on report cards, those, too, are somewhat misunderstood. At report card time, we are obliged to add a comment to supplement and/or expand on the letter grades. We are strongly encouraged to use the "canned comments" option, which have a limited number of comments from which teachers may choose to explain students. However, much like options on those magazine quizzes where you sit there scratching your head and mumbling, "Well, I'm a little bit A, but somewhat D, too... um, I wonder what I should pick," some of the options don't work for some of the kids. Some of the students don't fit within the canned comments. And none of them allow teachers to truly reflect any sort of behavior or academic deficiency in any truly negative way. Examples of canned comments are: "cooperative in class," "achieving at ability level," "needs to complete homework," "needs to increase study time," "doesn't take advantage of second chance learning." So I took the opportunity for myself and the possible amusement of my friends--since I was content and expected for everything to stay low-key with only my 7 pals reading my ramblings--to list those real behaviors that exist but that you just aren't allowed to write. (Parents don't want to hear the truth; administrators don't want us to share the truth.) But regardless, they weren't comments meant to fit all students, and nor were they even for every student I wrote "cooperative in class" about--I was just being pithy when I made that joke.

Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, I didn't--and don't--feel negatively toward all students. As I mentioned in another blog that nobody chooses to talk about, there were delightful students in school, too. I fondly discussed some wonderful students who shined in the school's Jazz and Poetry Festival, and I even said that I was proud to be part of the school at events like that.

But the fact remains that every year, more and more, students are coming in less willing to work, to think, to cooperate. These are the students I was complaining about in my blog. The same way millions of Americans go home at the end of the day and complain about select coworkers or clients or other jerks they had to deal with, I came home and complained on my blog about those I had to deal with.

When my boss makes a general comment about something at a faculty meeting that is pointed at certain individuals but not all of us, I don't sit there and think, "I can't believe he said that about me!" I know if it's directed at me or not. I ask myself, "Are these things that I do? No? Then it must be for someone else." I think that most people are probably the same way. In fact, if people have a lack of self-perception, I'd bet they'd err on the side of thinking things are NOT being directed at them. S0 if these students or their parents (again, one of either group who felt the need to dig up year-old blog postings) see my comments and identify themselves or their kids with things they read, that, to me, indicates a problem within themselves. It feels like they're projecting their personal issues onto me. The truth hurts sometimes. Maybe instead of getting pissed off at the person pointing out the behavior, people need to examine their behavior and make a change. Better to know now before the Ghost of Christmas Future shows up.

In reading some of the posts my most angry objectors have written, I've read that I must not have been doing a good job because I couldn't possibly separate my feelings for some of the students from my work. Someone said I must be doing the minimum. That is absolutely not the case. If you read my blogs, you'd have read account after account of the preparatory work I did for lessons. You'd have read about the new lessons and units I'd created to help my students achieve success. I was not shirking my duties in or out of the classroom, regardless of the frustration I felt as a result of the disrespect and disengagement I was living through so often in the classroom. I am a professional and take pride in my work. I am perfectly capable of separating my personal feelings about some of the people I have to work with from the work I accomplish. In that way, I'm also like millions of people around the world; at some point, we all have to work with someone we don't like. But we do it anyway, get the job done, and move along. That's how life works. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous.

As I went to bed Wednesday night, things were about 100% the opposite of 'normal.' As I fell asleep, I couldn't help feeling how surreal the day had been. While I never in a million years would have guessed that this many people would ever see my words, and I didn't even intend them to, I stand by what I wrote and think it's good that people are aware now. There are serious problems with our education system today--with the way that schools and school districts and students and parents take teachers who enter the education field full of life and hope and a desire to change the world and positively impact kids, and beat the life out of them and villanize them and blame them for everything--and those need to be brought to light. If this 'scandal' opens the door for that conversation, so be it.

Let that conversation begin. Stay tuned here.