It is hard for me to express how proud I am of the courage shown by so many teachers who are fighting to reverse what has been done by career DoE bureaucrats to cheat a generation of children out of their right to a good education. One tangible example follows at the end of this post – a letter to three Massachusetts legislators who are actively starting to look at destructive education mandates, made possible by the courage of a handful of teachers led by one feisty retired teacher (a man after my own heart!). And you can help their effort — see below!
For most teachers, the passion to help fix education for the next generation is despite knowing that school administrators routinely retaliate against any teacher who speaks out about the real issues in schools. “Troublemakers,” like me and 51,000 other teachers who have visited and followed this blog in just the few months since we started, know they will be on the principal’s poop list for assignments, coaching positions, club leadership, class assignments, and training if they speak out. They know the school’s Facebook mole will make sure the school administration hears quickly about any post or “like” on a page like this one.
Yet teachers are speaking out with a stronger and stronger voice despite the risk!
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This blog is dedicated to just one thing – letting teacher voices be heard about the real issues in education so that we can start to fix things, and not just throw more money at the same inept mandates that got us here in the first place. Just look at the thousands of posts and comments here and on our related Facebook page ! Look at the dozens of passages written by teachers nationwide that I have been permitted to use as the heart of these blog articles. Dozens of unions and teacher organizations across the country have started to follow and contribute to seeing real change. Just four months ago, this brand new blog had yet to top 1,000 visitors – yesterday it reached 51,000 because of the passion and caring of teachers nationwide.
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Here is just one example of how powerful teacher voices can be when they speak out. At a school committee meeting in a small Massachusetts town last week, because teachers had the courage to speak out, three Massachusetts legislators got the message! The topic was mandates that tie the hands of teachers, force teachers to dumb-down their instruction, mandates that lead to forced promotion of children who should be failed, and mandates that micromanage teachers to the point where an average of 35 minutes of our class period is taken away from teaching the lesson plan.
A retired teacher at the meeting actually armed the legislators with the “I don’t teach anymore…” buttons to wear during the meeting. The end result? The three legislators – one the minority leader of the house and a member of the state education committee – asked the teachers to provide specific examples of how these mandates hurt our children.
What will come of it? That is yet to be seen.
The question is whether or not these three state legislators can show the same level of courage shown by the teachers who spoke out. Will the legislators follow through on their request? Will they look past the loud and false mantra that the problems in education are due solely to bad funding, bad unions, bad children and bad teachers? Will they have the courage to start to enact some of the eleven changes (nine of which require less funding) I laid out based upon three years of research and interviews with teachers, in Lifting The Curtain: The disgrace we call urban high school education? I hope their stated interest, and request for examples, turns out to have been sincere.
We will start to see in the days ahead. But you can help! Below is a copy of a letter I sent to each legislator, along with a copy of Lifting the Curtain – with its detailed look at the destructive mandates they asked about, and specific solutions they could help enact. It was sent to all three state legislators. Please call, write, send a carrier pigeon or smoke signal! Let them hear the voice of teachers. We have to keep trying until parents and legislators start to hear the real issues.
The letter was sent to:
- Richard J. Ross, State House, Room 520, Boston, MA 02133
- Jeffrey N. Roy. State House, Room 134, Boston, MA 02133
- Karen E. Spika, State House, Room 212, Boston, MA 02133
11 February 2015
Richard J. Ross
Boston, MA 02133
Dear Mr. Ross,
Last night you and two of your colleagues from the Massachusetts state legislature had the courage to speak up about education at the Franklin School Committee meeting. You requested information about the mandates that have so crippled our schools by preventing our teachers from teaching, and have cheated an entire generation of children out of the education they deserve. Thank you for being among the very few legislators who have started to look beyond the simplistic and false claims that “…we just need more money” to see that there are serious systemic problems that we must solve. And nine of the eleven fixes we beg you to help enact would require less funding for schools, not more!
Your stand last night is far from alone – parents, teachers, and students everywhere are getting more and more vocal in our pleas for legislative help in effecting change. We all want to get behind legislators with the courage to help us make changes that matter.
Some examples of the widespread and growing support legislators would have:
- Two weeks ago I was the guest on the Dan Rea show on WBZ. There was such an outpouring of calls from parents, students, and teachers that Mr. Rea extended the show another hour, cancelling the program that had been scheduled to follow. He has asked me to return for a follow-up show. Parents, students, and teachers had all phone lines to the show full all night – unanimous in their plea for legislators to help eliminate all the mandates that so hurt our children by preventing teachers from teaching.
- On my blog, 48,000 parents and teachers have visited and followed in just the five months since it was started, consistently hoping legislators would jump in and start to fix the real problems with education. The companion Facebook page is getting thousands of posts, likes and shares each week in near unanimous support of real education change
- The heartfelt interest in true education reform is at the point where the Huffington Post, of all unlikely places, has asked me to become a regular blogger on education issues.
I enclose a copy of a book based upon three years of research in Massachusetts schools. It reflects surveys and interviews of 760 Massachusetts teachers and students. Even the review services like Kirkus and Clarion were stunned by what they called “…the unique perspective of an urban high school teacher.” Most of all, it details both the mandates that are killing us, and eleven specific proposed changes that would make huge improvements quickly.
We need your help to make real change. If I can help by meeting with you or your staff, or publicizing your views on my blog, please do not hesitate to ask. We have cheated a generation of children out of their education. We must not do the same for the next generation. Not on our watch.
Thank you for your consideration
Donald A Russell
The 2nd edition of the acclaimed book about today’s failed education system
– Lifting the Curtain: The disgrace we call urban high school education –
is now available, with dozens of teacher submissions from across the USA and nine
new chapters. Both KIRKUS and CLARION praise this important book
“…from the unique perspective of a classroom teacher”
that shows the real problems that have destroyed the education
of our children. Please get a copy HERE or on Amazon.