Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Joanna Molly Call Teachers Stupid

You can read her snark here.

I responded with this email:

Ms. Molloy,

Your column about educators lacking common sense is simplistic.

There are 85,000 teachers in New York City. There are 6,100 principals and assistant principals.

Some of those people lack common sense and do stupid things like having a girl who drew on a desk handcuffed or a boy who brought in a little toy gun arrested.

That leaves lots of other educators who do NOT engage in stupid behavior and do NOT lack common sense.

I would put myself, a teacher for 9 years at a large public high school, in that group.

Three weeks ago I had a fight in my class and had to call security for the first time in my nine years as a teacher. It was an ugly fight in which one girl pulled chunks of flesh from another girl's face with her fingernails. I followed protocol, ran to the phone to call security, and tried to keep the class from breaking into complete chaos while security ran up nine flights to my classroom. After it was all over, I had to clean up a spilled thermos of iced tea, blood and hair extensions, then teach my next class. My folders of student work were covered with coffee and blood. Shaken, I changed my lesson from what I had planned to "WHAT ARE HEALTHY WAYS TO EXPRESS OUR ANGER?" for my next class. It was one of the best classes I have ever taught. Students gave honest responses as they talked about respect, anger, unresolved emotions and other things that can lead to fights.

Two weeks ago, a girl collapsed in my class. I ran to help her and yelled for a student to call security and have them call the EMT's. I thought she was okay because I could feel a pulse and hear her breathing (albeit shallowly), but you never know with these things. Fortunately she was okay and after the EMT's came and took her, I went back to teaching.

Those are two of the most extreme examples of my having to deal with the unexpected on the fly. But nearly every day, there is some point where I have to make a split second decision about something. I usually make good decisions, but occasionally I do not and then I learn from those mistakes.

That's called being an adult. I can tell you that the overwhelming majority of teachers in my building are the same way (and we have over 100 teachers.)

So I am insulted by your column. Frankly, it's a piece of snark written by somebody who doesn't know much about teaching or the current conditions in NYC public schools. It's funny if you're in the BASH TEACHERS camp (as some who work at your paper are), but if you have any idea of the number of scary, dangerous or simply worrisome incidents most teachers deal with every day, you would know what you wrote is as ridiculous as the principal who had the kid with the little toy gun arrested or the teacher who had the kids who wrote on the desk cuffed.

I will say that you are right about one thing, however, Ms. Molloy. "Grown-ups can be idiots" - you ought to look in the mirror to see one. Given the kinds of things your colleagues at the paper write about education and teaching, you can look around the Daily News to see quite a few more.

I am so sick of newspaper writers and stenographers pointing to one or two teachers who do stupid things and extrapolating that behavior to all educators.

It's like pointing to wifebeater Dominic Carter, former NY1 reporter, to say all reporters are criminals and spousebeaters.

Unfortunately that's pretty much all the media stenographers and politicians do these days.

The most extreme rubber room example is used to tar all teachers in the rubber room as bad teachers.

One teacher gets investigated for sexual abuse and all the other teachers laid off at the same time are tarred as abusers (see here for that story.)

One teacher does something stupid in the classroom, all teachers are stupid.

It's time to push back and let the people writing and saying these things know just how ridiculous they are.

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