Blogging for me is a form of self-defense in a world in which teachers have been thrust into the role of scapegoat. Teachers are painted as incompetent, lazy individuals who do not deserve the due-process rights of tenure. Teachers are blamed for poverty and the inability of Walmart workers to manage simple tasks for subsistence pay. If I have learned much of anything from studying history, I have learned that there is a time for action. There is a time to kiss your reticence goodbye.
I speak only as one NYC teacher, but I speak for many: The current path of educational reform mirrors insanity. When I witness some of the people who have called the shots, Michelle Rhee (teacher for three years who boasts of taping kids' mouths shut to the point of bleeding), and the Walmart family, I cannot believe this is real. Are teachers the new Gregor Samsa?
I offer my voice as one of experience. There are fewer and fewer of us left in the City. I first set foot into a classroom with clipboard in hand (the same one I tote with pride today), twenty-four years ago. I have seen the rapid decline of my profession. I do not take it lightly. I may be dangerous because I remember all too well how teachers were once respected.
I speak to counter the negative stereotyping of teachers. I am not lazy. I used to run ten miles, four times a week, prior to work, only to enter the classroom fully charged and ready to go. Every teacher I know is full of life, although exhausted at times from all the grading and demoralizing changes. Without boundless energy, one would not survive long in this occupation.
And, as to the point teachers are incompetent, test scores are a poor judge of teachers. My life has been built around learning. I graduated college with the highest honors, but I am most proud of the work I did outside the classroom, at home, in a living room, with a book in hand and later a computer by my side. Teaching was not a last resort for me. It was a calling. I am a NYC public school teacher by choice. If you think you can out-teach a NYC teacher, step into a classroom. Observe. Then, have a go at it. Not so easy, hey? How long will it be before you give up or suffer burnout? There must be incompetent teachers, but, from where I stand, I wouldn't be able to point to any.
And, I blog, of course, because I have little 'uns of my own. From the vantage point of a parent, I recognize the inanity of forcing teachers to prep for dear life. I recognize the inanity of sucking the love of learning out of school. I recognize the inanity of robbing childhood and painting a generation of public-school children as failures. The standards which some would call rigor will more likely than not lead to rigor mortis of the academic kind.
Although much of my blogging might paint a drab picture, I still love my profession. My colleagues are part of my extended family. I love the kids. And, I will say it. And, I am not a pedophile. I love the kids. When I close my doors to teach, I forget the insanity of this ed. deform. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to work with kids for a living. I will blog to preserve a profession which is not primarily for those who wish to make money or live the easy life. I will blog to preserve a profession for people who value ideas as well as their fellow human beings. I blog, therefore I am!