Time‘s cover this week incensed me, to be sure. It reminded me of moment this summer when I was in central Wisconsin visiting a friend. We all were at a public beach and I came back out to the car to get a pair of sunglasses, and as I was rifling through my car, I heard someone say, “Hey– she’s at the car.”
A man who was putting his boat into dock came over to talk to me, shuffling apologetically. He pointed out the long black mark on my bumper and driver’s side and said he had grazed my car when parking his boat carrier. I looked over the damage, thinking it superficial but afraid of being hasty.
He spied my “My Heart is in the Public Schools and My Children Are Too” bumper sticker and, reading it, asked me if I was a teacher.
The moment I used to associate with pride, but now associate with fear. Fear of the reprisal, the judgement, the scorn, the pity, the condescension. I am proud to be a teacher, but I don’t volunteer the information anymore. I don’t know many who do. My friend reprimanded her husband on vacation once for telling the people they just met she was a teacher. She, too, has come to dread the moment.
My moment stretched. The man looked my two-year-old Toyota Camry over and said, “Nice car.” Was that nice car as in “oh, my, look at what you over-paid teachers can afford?” or nice car as in “I just hit your car with my boat and I am trying to make you like me so you will be nice”– and I still don’t know. I rubbed at the black mark, found it came off, and, consulting with my friends, walked back to the beach.
That night at dinner, I heard my friends’ family talk about how bad teachers should be fired. I ate quietly, because I love my friends’ family and my friends and it wasn’t the time, but I thought about the year not-so-long-ago my team teacher was fired over spring break. That was a stressful year. I thought about the so-so and failing educators I’ve seen driven out by good administrators. The process is there, I wanted to say.
I have thought about that dinner when the Colorado teachers had a sick-out to protest the pressure the AP teachers are feeling to sanitize US history. Teachers need protection. They need process. And good administrators do indeed have the power to fire.
So when I grabbed Time Magazine, I thought of when my car got hit by a boat and I felt familiar worry and angst. I am tired of being a punching bag. Tired of scorn. And I wish the public knew the real facts of the different “reform” movements, though they can be captured a bit in these alternative covers, gleaned off Twitter’s #TIMEfail.
PS: I just visited a site by Susan DuFresne asking for a Twitter storm on Oct. 26th. Hence, the posting today.
PSS: I first thought about responding to this by asking what exactly a bad teacher is… but Jose Vilson beat me to that question, and some more. You should read it. And, as always, if you want some great insight into controversies in education, read Jersey Jazzman.