Another article that tells the reality of the educational profession.

Public Education Today

My column appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on Tuesday, September 16. Here’s the link, but since it’s behind the paywall, I’m pasting it below.

Stevenson: Get ready for the great teacher exodus

By Sara Stevenson – Special to the American-Statesman

If teachers are the most important school factor in student achievement, how do our current policies and national conversation help us to grow and retain better teachers? Tenured Stanford University professor Eric Hanushek wants us to fire “bad teachers,” but we should worry more about keeping the good ones. This year my public middle school lost a wave of talent.

To those, such as Wendy Kopp of Teach For America, who believe that experience doesn’t matter, why are our new teachers cautioned, before Back to School Night, not to tell the parents they’re a first-year teacher? Studies cited in Dana Goldstein’s “The Teacher Wars” show that first-year teachers underperform experienced…

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THIS SAYS IT ALL! Thank you Daniel Katz Ph.D.

Daniel Katz, Ph.D.

Back in 1993, when I had barely been teaching in my own high school English classroom for a month, I had an epiphany.  I looked around my classroom of ninth graders and realized, consciously, that they were not all going to become high school English teachers.  As epiphanies go, I admit that does not sound exceptional, but it was actually foundational for the rest of my career in education.  The reason for this was that I simultaneously realized that I was teaching English because of the lifelong qualitative relationship that I had with reading and writing in English.  My father probably read “Oscar the Otter” to me every night for a month when I was four.  As a young reader, I often wondered if I would ever have a friend as cool as Encyclopedia Brown’s sidekick, Sally Kimball.  Later, I was positive that I found a lifelong friend in Charles…

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The CCSS are a good implementation for many reasons which the above link demonstrates.  I have issues with the standards for a few reasons.  The first one is not all teachers implement them or know how or care to do it.  It does take a lot of work and research.  Teachers have to tweak their curriculum as well as add to it.  Teachers have so much on their plates or buffet, as I would prefer to say, that another requirement can be daunting.  But the best teachers jump in and do their best.  They are  rare.  Many think they are doing a fabulous job, but are not.  I cannot name names, but some of my UCONN friends are the best.  They are devoted and work late and hard and every flipping day of the week.  Of course there are more from my last place of employment who shall remain nameless.

My second issue is the money that districts pour out to train, educate, and attempt to implement.  Then there is the issue of the big money spent on ASSESSMENT!  Way too much time on data, testing, and the tests themselves.  BIG business have created the tests for assessments.  The latest is the Smarter Balance test.  Not really sure how many real educators were involved in this creation.  A preview would be for third, yes, third grade students.  They will read a non-fiction article, research the topic, and write a paper.  THEY HAVE THREE HOURS TO COMPLETE, all on the computer.  That will be interesting…  Not that I don’t have faith in third grade students, but I had seventh and eighth grade students that would be unable to complete that task.  Somewhere-I wish I could remember where and who-I read about a school that went back to the basics…taught the basics.  Amazingly enough–(sarcasm)– their scores soared up!  Imagine that.  Back to the basics:  Let teachers teach.

My third issue is just hilarious.  It is growing near election time.  The governor of Wisconsin has decided that the CCSS should be eliminated and replaced with standards designed by the Wisconsin government that will apply specifically to the students of Wisconsin.  So the districts that have spent all that money to train, educate and implement the CCSS have basically flushed that money down the toilet.  Fabulous.  Remember, this is the governor that broke unions, supports high-end charter schools, and never graduated from college.  Fabulous.  And you wonder why I find this hilarious?

I left at the right time.  How sad for our future and students.


Really….the horror. More innocent lives lost for? Why? No one knows the answer; the question swirls around my head because it is so senseless. I sit in the tranquillity of the woods with the sun shining, birds singing, and on the other side of the world more people die a horrible death. I am ever so grateful for my life and family.

The title Shot Down reminds of teachers-the bad ones. The ones that shoot kids down and never give them a chance. If they don’t fit the teacher’s mold, they are shot down. A teacher can’t like every student that our way. It is against human nature. But if one decided to go into the art of education (and it IS an art) one best love children. If not, that teacher is doing all of the students a huge disservice. Do you really think they don’t know when you don’t like them? They may not exhibit intelligence in a core subject, but they aren’t stupid. They know you don’t like them. And that inhibits their learning. I remember my first year of parent teacher conferences. A wise, experienced teacher told me to end the conference by saying nice about the student. Find something–anything–leave on a positive note. He was right; I always did, and that is the best you can do.

Let’s not even get started on the adult educational staff that do the same thing to each other. Let’s save that for another day.

Dennis Anderson's photo.
I found this on Facebook today.  Struck me hard as I pondered the state of our country, medical research, and people whose paths I have tripped across.  The author of 1984 and Animal Farm and more wrote beyond his time on government corruption.  Imagine that….  That is all I have to say.  Thinking…  So should you.


One can purge things from their life at any time.  But retirement seems to be the biggest moment of purging: closets, bookshelves, drawers, knick-knacks, clothes, shoes, accessories, bad memories, and people.

Every work place has its nasty people that ruin a day, a week, a month.  Arrogant jerks that try their best to make you (a valued human being in the universe) feel worthless.  Dealing with those people daily can debilitate job performance, dedication, and self-esteem.  Family members and friends tell us to “just let it roll off your back!”  I am NOT  a duck.  Those barbs, actions, and lies hurt.  And that impedes my ability to do my job to the best of my ability.  What have I retired from doing?  I am a public school educator.  I teach.  I will not say I WAS a teacher….I AM a teacher.  I will always be a teacher.  That is my passion.  It is now time to teach myself how to purge the garbage.  I have started on the house purge.  That is not as difficult as I envisioned.  I don’t need every single cookbook my dad owned.  I can choose the ones that will be most meaningful and useful.  I certainly don’t need five hundred million shoes, earrings, purses, sweaters, pants, or other garments that stuff my closets.  What I DO need to do is dump the garbage people have dumped on me.  It is time to let go of the bad memories and the people that caused them.  I could list the garbage, and maybe I will in another post.  But for today, I am just glad that the process has begun.

The first of many that do not require the panic of a coming Monday. Retirement does that. Of course it also brings waves of panic over money:  “Will I have enough?  Can I make it?  What if…”    This is just the first step of a new journey, not to be underminded by panic. Take a backseat panic!  One day at a time is the mantra today.